Monday, March 31, 2008

What My Gut Says

I have a coupon for $1 off a new cereal that claims to promote better digestive health because it has a “prebiotic fiber.” So is it still worth it even with that savings?

If I lived in Europe, I’d probably be used to all these pre- and pro-biotic claims. But here it is all new marketing to us. Probiotics and prebiotics – loosely – are foods that keep our “good’ digestive microflora thriving. The thing is, the benefits of the living microorganisms in our food has been apparently common knowledge for-like-ever. The Old Testament apparently says that Abraham owed his longevity to drinking sour milk. And Roman historian Plinius raved about fermented milk products too. (I found these references in a AJCN article published in 2001). Sugar-free, plain yogurt is a probiotic….so is sauerkraut and pickles. Anything fermented and live cultures growing on it is technically a probiotic, from what I know so far. Prebiotics are foods that help your good gut flora to flourish. Examples include veggies high in a fiber called inulin (found in chicory root or asparagus) so we’re not exactly talking about rare rainforest produce here that is just being discovered….

So a cereal touting its prebiotics seems to be a harbinger of products to come that are throwing out a fancy word from items that we’ve had available already in the supermarket aisles—and perhaps more important, containing bacteria that we JUST MAY NOT NEED. It’s just a gut feeling I’m having…

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