Prebiotics (Wikipedia) were first identified in the mid 1990’s. Scientists narrowed the meaning of the term to “a nondigestible food ingredient that beneficially affects the host by selectively stimulating the growth and/or activity of one or a limited number of bacteria in the colon, and thus improves host health.” However, this wasn’t a narrow enough definition. In order to truly nourish the beneficial microbes in our colon, the prebiotic needed to have three major characteristics. First, it needed to withstand the chemical conditions in gut, namely its high acidity. Second, the bacteria in our colon needed to be able to ferment it. Third, it needed to markedly benefit a selective set of bacteria; namely those which were most beneficial to huuman health. The scientist who first classified prebiotics has stated that only two substances properly conform to this definition: namely inulin and oligofructose. Galacto-oligosaccharides, fructooligosaccharides are also widely accepted as prebiotics. A quality prebiotic for dogs will be made from a strain that is right for animals and not huumans; surviving in a dog’s acidic system.
These two substances occur in high concentrations
in many plants. According to a study conducted in 1999, the average
American diet provided an average of 2.6 grams of inulin, and 2.5 grams
of oligofructose a day. The main source of prebiotics was in wheat,
which provided about 70% of average inulin intake, with onions
accounting for an additional 25% of prebiotic intake. There is no
consensus about how much a prebiotic material a healthy adult should eat
each day, and in fact standardized “dosages” are often frowned upon because of each person’s unique digestive tract, which can encourage or stunt the use of prebiotics.
Theoretically speaking, a healthy community of
symbiotic microbes in a host’s gut could confer a number of benefits. In
general, prebiotics have been shown to effectively nourish
bifidobacteria and lactobacilli across a number of species. These in
turn have the potential to aid in a variety of healthy processes, such
as absorbing minerals, supporting immune function, alleviating symptoms
of bowel diseases and a reduced risk of colon cancer.
Fermentation is the main mechanism of action by
which prebiotics are used by beneficial bacteria in the colon. Both
Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus are bacterial populations which use
saccharolytic metabolism to break down substrates. Research shows that
the bifidobacterial genome contains many genes that encode for
carbohydrate-modifying enzymes as well as genes that encode for
carbohydrate uptake proteins. The presence of these genes indicates that
Bifidobacteria contain specific metabolic pathways specialized for the
fermentation and metabolism of plant-derived oligosaccharides, or
prebiotics. These pathways in Bifidobacteria ultimately produce short
chain fatty acids, which have diverse physiological roles in body
Prebiotic sources must be proven to confer a
benefit to the host in order to be classified as a prebiotic.
Fermentable carbohydrates derived from fructans and xylans are the most
well documented example of prebiotics, and galactooligosaccharides are
enzymatically synthesized from lactose. However, there are additional
endogenous prebiotics and exogenous food sources that can be classified
as prebiotic sources. Additionally, functional foods containing
prebiotic food ingredients serve as an additional prebiotic food source.
There are several food sources that provide digestive enzymes strong enough to survive your pets acidic system:
Fresh green tripe (read our article on tripe) is a big favourite raw fooding pet parents, guardians and slaves because it:
Dr. Karen Becker (Mercola) has the following advice on choosing a quality probiotic.
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