Give a gut a chance: Discover the key to improved health

Every fall, millions of Americans search for ways to maintain their family’s health throughout the cold season. Although there is a general understanding of how diet and exercise contribute, many people still do not make the connection between their guts and improved overall wellness. Warming up to this connection by giving your gut a chance will improve your odds of battling the cold this fall.

Host to both beneficial probiotic and pathogenic bacteria, our guts play a key role in affecting health in a variety of ways, including immune response, digestive function, bone preservation and development, essential nutrient absorption, and more. By maintaining a proper balance of these bacteria, and by keeping the levels of pathogenic bacteria down, you can achieve optimal health.

“Many health-conscious consumers are aware that the live cultures, such as Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria, in their yogurts are actually naturally occurring probiotic bacteria found in the gut,” says Linda C. Douglas, R.D., Ph.D. with GTC Nutrition. “In fact, some people know that these, and other beneficial gut bacteria, play significant roles in promoting health. However, what they may not know is that in order for the beneficial probiotic bacteria to thrive, they need their own special food—prebiotic fiber.”

Prebiotic fiber is a relatively new concept to American consumers—a concept that nicely dovetails with its better known counterpart, probiotics. Prebiotic fiber provides a special advantage to Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria that helps them to flourish in the gut environment. Since probiotics are living, they need a fuel source to survive, and prebiotic fiber is that source.

By including prebiotic fiber in the diet, you give these beneficial cultures the advantage they need to tip the bacterial balance in the gut in the right direction, as this type of fiber feeds only the probiotic bacteria. Additionally, when the probiotic bacteria are properly nourished, they not only thrive and benefit health, but also crowd out pathogenic bacteria, which can encourage the onset of illness.

Increasingly popular for inclusion in functional foods, prebiotics can be found in yogurts, smoothies, bars, and more at popular grocery stores. For example, the most effective prebiotic fiber on the market today, NutraFlora short-chain fructooligosaccharides (scFOS), can be found in Horizon Organic Dairy’s yogurt products for babies, children and adults as well as in their line of fruit smoothies. Horizon’s product packaging features a logo of NutraFlora to distinguish it as offering a multitude of unique health benefits to consumers.

Prebiotics are not just found in dairy products. Meal replacement drinks, nutrition bars, cereals, supplements, juices, and even bottled waters contain prebiotic fiber for proven health benefits. Give yourself a boost this season with prebiotics—your body is certain to thank you. To learn more about prebiotic fiber and its associated health benefits, visit

From the Nov. 23-29, 2005, issue

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