Prebiotics: healthier gut, healthier life

Maintaining gut health is essential for all of us throughout our lifecycle. Prebiotics support the body’s natural defenses,1-3 improve the absorption of key minerals4-6 in our diet and promote digestive comfort.7-9

Support natural defences
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Increase mineral absorption
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Aid digestive comfort
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Prebiotics are also helping to meet the rising challenges within the animal husbandry industry. They can play an important role in managing the increasing global demand for protein and pressure to improve animal welfare whilst reducing the over-reliance on antibiotics.

Prebiotics are not the same as Probiotics

Probiotics are live, ‘friendly’ bacteria that create a more favourable gut environment, thereby supporting a healthy digestive tract.10

Prebiotic Probiotic icon

Prebiotics feed these ‘friendly’ bacteria found within the large intestine, encouraging them to thrive and helping to maintain a healthy gut.11-13

GOS supports the body’s natural defences

We all come into contact with harmful bacteria every day and some may be ingested in the food we eat. A healthy digestive system is essential as it is the body’s first line of defence against infection

GOS enhances the natural barriers in the gut

It stimulates the production of mucin to line the gut, providing an effective barrier31

GOS combats harmful bacteria by:

Helping friendly bacteria, especially Bifidobacteria, to thrive and outcompete harmful bacteria12,15,16

Reducing the pH in the gut, an acidic environment is more hostile to harmful bacteria16,32

Exerting an antimicrobial effect which kills harmful bacteria (a ‘natural antibiotic effect’)22,23

GOS stimulates the gut immune system
‘Direct’ effect

GOS ‘directly’ modulates the immune system through its interaction with the epithelial cells in the gut wall and also helps to improve gut cell health30

GOS in conjunction with Bifidobacteria has been shown to suppress intestinal allergic inflammation33

Prebiotic effect

GOS, via the prebiotic pathway, stimulates the immune system through the production of Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFAs).19,29

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In the elderly

GOS has a potential role in helping to reverse age-related changes to the bacteria in the gut.34,35 In healthy elderly people (67-88 years), a decrease in ‘friendly’ bacteria has been shown to be common.36 These changes can alter the effective functioning of the gut.36 Some studies show that age-associated changes in the composition of the bacteria can cause inflammation, which can lead to inflammatory diseases. Including GOS in the diet can help to reduce age-associated inflammation.37

Natural defences diagram

Adapted from reference 31

Essential functions of SCFAs in establishing and maintaining a healthy gut19-25

Healthy gut diagram

GOS helps increase the absorption of essential minerals from our diet4-6

By helping to ensure healthy epithelial cells and by lowering the pH in the gut to make it more acidic, GOS improves mineral absorption:

Calcium

Calcium has several important functions that include helping build strong bones and teeth, regulating muscle contractions (including the heartbeat) and ensuring blood clots normally.

Iron

Iron is important in making the red blood cells that carry oxygen around the body. A shortage of iron can lead to iron deficiency anaemia.

Zinc

Zinc is important for the normal functioning of the immune system. Zinc also helps make new cells and aids wound healing.

Magnesium

Magnesium is essential for many processes in the body, including regulating muscle and nerve function, blood sugar levels, and blood pressure. It also reduces tiredness and improves psychological function.

GOS aids digestive comfort

GOS improves gut motility, in other words ‘keeping regular’, helps avoid constipation, diarrhoea and associated problems.7-9

This can be particularly important in the elderly. As we age we become less active, reduce our fluid intake and eat a less well balanced diet. This combination of events often causes constipation.

GOS is the foundation of gut health

Galacto-oligosaccharides or ‘GOS’ is a unique prebiotic derived from lactose, a natural ingredient in cow’s milk and is similar to the prebiotics found in human breast milk.1,14

GOS reaches the large intestine mostly intact where it is consumed by ‘friendly’ bacteria and helps them thrive – in particular Bifidobacteria12 and Lactobacilli.15

As ‘friendly’ bacteria thrive, there is less room in the gut for ‘harmful’ bacteria to take hold.16

In addition to out-competing harmful bacteria, recent research shows GOS interacts with other mechanisms in the gut to deliver additional benefits. In this short video, you can see how GOS works and its potential for promoting gut health.

This video is the property of Dairy Crest Limited and as such you are not permitted to download, embed, or distribute it without our express permission. Please see our Terms of Use.

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