Each year, 3.8 million men and 3.4 million women die from heart disease around the world, and at least 90 million people in the US alone report having chronic illnesses like infections, diabetes and cancer.
These figures are astonishing, but the medical community has learned about a new way to reduce risk for coronary heart disease and to boost immunity at the same time.
The humble onion is actually a naturalprebiotic- it can feed the friendly bacteria, orprobiotics in your gut without encouraging the growth of harmful pathogens.
Prebiotics are one of the newest fields of nutritional research and offer promising benefits for your heart, your immunity and more. Prebiotics stimulate the growth of healthy microflora that populate your large intestine. When these healthy microflora (beneficial bacteria) are allowed to flourish, they help keep you healthy and strong.
Due to stress, the Standard American Diet (full of processed foods and sugar), lifestyle choices and regular use of antibiotics and other drugs, you may be lacking the microflora your body needs to maintain healthy digestion, to fight illness and disease, and to make sure your body gets all the nutrients it needs.
And just as important, if parents lack a healthy inner ecosystem, they may pass this on to their children, setting the stage for a whole generation with lowered immunity. Read more in: What Every Girl & Woman Needs to Know NOW if They Every Want to Have a Baby.
Prebiotics and Probiotics
In a healthy body, your inner ecosystem contains enough good bacteria (microflora or probiotics) to outnumber the bad and help maintain control over them. Probiotics may be a buzzword in the health and wellness industry, but you need to consume plenty of prebiotics, to ensure you have enough probiotics populating your gut.
Prebiotics are derived from insoluble fiber and fructooligosaccharides or FOS (carbohydrate molecules made up of a relatively small number of simple sugars).
If you make fermented foods and drinks at home, you know that you have to add a prebiotic, like honey or EcoBloom, as food for the microflora.
While sweets like honey feed yeast and are not recommended on the Body Ecology program, the microflora in our Body Ecology fermented food and drink Starters "eat" the sugar up in the fermentation process, leaving us with all the healthy benefits of fermented foods.
In fact, the combination of prebiotics and probiotics, as in fermented foods and drinks, have a combined beneficial or synbiotic effect for your health, which is why these foods and drinks are emphasized on the Body Ecology program.
In your body, prebiotics nourish the microflora (probiotics) and encourage them to work more efficiently, keeping you healthy and strong. The synbiotic effect from fermented foods and drinks means that not only do they help populate your intestines with beneficial bacteria, they also help improve the survival, implantation and growth of newly added microflora strains.
Once you've re-established your healthy inner ecosystem and have conquered viral, bacterial and fungal infections, you can add naturally sweet foods, like fruit, to your diet, which will also feed the microflora in your gut.
Until then, you have better choices for prebiotics, which I will outline below.
Types of Prebiotics
Anything with sugar in it can be a prebiotic, since microflora love to consume sugars.
Inulin - Inulin is found in 36,000 plants such as:
- Herbs - chicory root, burdock root and dandelion root
- Fruits - such as apples, bananas
- Sweet vegetables - such as onions, garlic, asparagus, leeks and Jerusalem artichokes
- Raw apple cider vinegar
- EcoBloom - Body Ecology's prebiotic dietary fiber supplement
§ Mother's milk for babies
- Fructooligosaccharides (FOS), a subgroup of inulin, is also a prebiotic and is often added to dairy foods and baked goods. It improves the taste and stimulates the growth of the beneficial bacteria, bifidobacteria.
Dairy products - studies are starting to show that lactose may be considered a prebiotic.1
What Can Prebiotics Do For You?
- Heart Health
Prebiotics have been shown to moderate cholesterol and triglyceride levels- both indicators of heart disease. Specifically, one study shows that inulin can reduce artherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries by 30%.
As heart disease becomes more widespread among men and women, new approaches to treatment and prevention that do not involve medications are proving to be effective and have the added benefit of being side effect free, unless you count improved health as a side effect!
From an immunity standpoint, who doesn't want to feel better and get sick less often? In preliminary research, prebiotics boost white blood cells and killer T cells, and may even improve your body's response to vaccinations.
Children in one test group who ate yogurt containing inulin had fewer daycare absences, fewer doctor visits and took fewer antibiotics.
- Chronic Illness and Digestion
Because prebiotics act in your intestines, they have a profound effect on the pathogens and bad bacteria in your body that can cause disease. Prebiotics are being used to treat Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Crohn's Disease, and may also prove useful for treating cancer, osteoporosis and diabetes.
Prebiotics and Body Ecology
Think of a fish tank: to keep your fish healthy, you need to keep their environment clean and give them food. Microflora are very similar: they need water and prebiotics (food), and since they are anaerobic, they do not like oxygen.
Pathogenic yeast (like the fungal infection, candidiasis) also feast on sugars and starches that easily break down into simple sugars. So the key is to focus on prebiotics that don't feed these pathogens so you can encourage the growth of friendly microflora.
I created the gluten-free, casein-free, sugar-free Body Ecology system to starve pathogenic and infection-causing organisms while simultaneously feeding immune-enhancing good bacteria. So how do you feed the microflora but starve the pathogens (like candida)?
- Fermented Foods & Drinks - The Body Ecology program has a large array of fermented foods and drinks that you can choose from to get the synbiotic effect of prebiotics and probiotics. In the intitial stage of the Body Ecology program, here are some options: cultured vegetables, Coco-Biotic and Young Coconut Kefir.
In the later stages (after about 3 months or when you conquer candida and your inner ecosystem is re-established), add milk kefir and fermented soyfoods (like natto, miso and wheat-free tamari).
- Sour Fruit - In early stages of the Body Ecology program when your inner ecosystem is still being recolonized by good bacteria, take special care to avoid all sugars, even natural ones found in fruits. Initially, we recommend only these sour fruits: lemons, limes, unsweetened black currants and unsweetened cranberries.
- Gluten-Free Grains - While grains like wheat act as prebiotics, they also feed yeast. Body Ecology grain-like seeds (amaranth, quinoa, millet and buckwheat) are gluten-free alternatives that act as prebiotics AND don't feed pathogenic yeast. For more information on our recommended grains, read: The Risks of Choosing Typical Grains and the Healthy Grains to Choose Instead.
- Sweet Vegetables - Vegetables are 80% of the Body Ecology Diet, so you can eat plenty of asparagus, leeks, onions, garlic, Jerusalem artichokes and other sweet vegetables to feed healthy microflora without feeding pathogenic yeast.
Also try EcoBloom, Body Ecology's 100% powdered chicory inulin that you use as your fermented food and drink prebiotic. Or add it to soups, salad dressings, sauces and even beverages for a healthy dose of prebiotics and a smooth, velvety texture. Read How to Make Your Gut Most Inviting to Healthy Probiotics to learn more about EcoBloom!
EcoBloom is 100% inulin, a prebiotic that not only boosts your immune system, but it also makes your food taste even better!
We are still discovering all the amazing intricacies of the human body and digestive system, and it's great that research is finally being done to support what Body Ecology has long taught about health and healing: whole foods that feed your inner ecosystem are the way to maintain health and wellbeing.
At Body Ecology, we have always recommended the principle of balance and the principle of uniqueness in all the guidelines we suggest, but one thing seems to remain constant among the thousands who've found health with our system: a return to the way of eating that heals your inner ecosystem results in improved health, energy and immunity. That is my wish for this and future generations.
- 1 Can J Gastroenterol. 2004 Mar;18(3):163-7 Redefining lactose as a conditional prebiotic.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=15054489&dopt=Abstract
Daniells, Stephen, Prebiotics Could Reduce Artery Hardening, Boost Heart Health, NutraIngredients.com, 2 January 2007. http://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/news/ng.asp?id=73004-orafti-inulin-oligofructose-prebiotics
- Hamilton-Miller, JMT, Probiotics and Prebiotics in the Elderly, 20 January 2004.
- New Research Shows Beneo Prebiotics Could Improve Heart Health, NPICenter.com, 22 December 2006. http://www.npicenter.com/anm/templates/newsATemp.aspx?articleid=17301&zoneid=28
Saavedra, J.M. and Tschernia, A., Human Studies With Probiotics and Prebiotics: Clinical Implications, British Journal of Nutrition, Volume 87, Supplement s2, 1 May 2002, pp. 241-246(6). http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/cabi/bjn/2002/00000087/900000s2/art00015