Halal Consumer - Issue 52

Many of us have heard of probiotics and their associated health benefits, but what are prebiotics? Prebiotics are elements contained in certain foods that help feed and nourish the growth or activity of beneficial microorgan- isms such as bacteria, yeast, and fungi. They are the non-digestible carbohy- drate components of foods, such as inulin from chicory root. Prebiotics are often used as ingredients in func- tional foods, conventional, ormodified foods that provide an added benefit beyond basic nutrition. HEALTH & NUTRITION By YaQutullah Ibraheem Muhammad MS, RDN, LD Prebiotic fibers are not digested, rather they ferment in the colon. This fermentation process feeds beneficial bacteria colonies (including probiotic bacteria). It helps to increase the number of desirable bacteria in our gastrointestinal (GI) systems (also known as the gut), which may help to improve GI health and reduced the risk of disease. (www.ecronicon.com) Consistently including prebiotics can help boost your overall health because prebiotics contain anti-inflam- matory properties and can assist with reducing chronic systemic inflammation in the body, which in turn reduces the risk for heart disease. Additional health benefits include improved calcium absorption and decreased allergy risk. Prebiotics aren’t hard to find and there’s a good chance that you are already eating them. They are contained in high-fiber foods, including fruit, vegetables, whole grains, onions, garlic, legumes (beans, chickpeas, lentils, and soybeans), nuts (cashews and pistachios), Jerusalem WWW.IFANCA.ORG 10