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Know About the Importance of Prebiotics

Here's why Prebiotics are Important for your Child's Immunity

From infants to adults, intake of prebiotics is a must. Pixabay

Science has revealed that the human body hosts ten times more microorganisms than the tissue cells it has; microorganisms, that account for about 2.5 percent of our body weight.

Dr Pankaj Garg, Senior Consultant, Department of Neonatology, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi, speaks of the importance of Prebiotics.

Among these, there are around 500 types of bacteria living in our digestive tract that help us in maintaining good health, especially in infants and young children who are more prone to infections, digestive problems and allergies.

Nutrition plays a key role in building immunity, especially during the early years of life and breast milk which is the primary source of nutrition for infants contains components that both actively and passively modify the immune system of an infant. One such component is Oligosaccharides. After carbohydrates (lactose) and fats, oligosaccharides are the third largest component of breast milk. The concentration of oligosaccharides in breast milk exceeds that of even proteins thereby drawing attention of scientists across the world. These oligosaccharides are also known as Prebiotics.

Newborn babies cannot easily consume natural sources of prebiotics like onions, garlic or bananas, and hence breastmilk and baby food is essential for them. Pixabay

Prebiotics are non-digestible fibres which promote growth of healthy bacteria (probiotics) in the intestine. Naturally one can obtain prebiotics from certain whole cereals, pulses, fruits and vegetables. This is because some of these foods contain complex carbohydrates like fiber and resistant starch which is not digested easily. The body passes it through the digestive system undigested to convert this into food for the bacteria and other microbes.

The common available foods which have prebiotics are banana, chicory, onions, garlic, leeks etc. Cow and buffalo milk do not have prebiotic oligosaccharides which are present in mother’s milk.

Prebiotics are known for their health benefits:

It helps in the gut to increase the number of healthy bacteria, aid digestion and enhance the production of valuable vitamins.

Good bacteria perform a major role in regulating the immune system, preventing the growth of disease-causing bacteria.

Daily intake of prebiotics also helps in reducing glycation which is the cause of free increased radicals in the body. Pixabay

Prebiotics also help in keeping the body’s mineral and electrolyte levels in balance which then indirectly helps in keeping the blood pressure in check. They also help in maintaining healthy hormone levels which therefore keeps our gut healthy and helps in mood regulation.

Daily intake of prebiotics also helps in reducing glycation which is the cause of free increased radicals in the body. Therefore, it helps in fighting cardiovascular diseases.

From infants to adults, intake of prebiotics is a must. A healthy digestive system which includes good gut health and immune system is essential for all ages. Newborn babies cannot easily consume natural sources of prebiotics like onions, garlic or bananas, and hence breastmilk is essential for them.

Understanding the positive effects of oligosaccharides on gut health in infants, researchers have developed a non-human milk oligosaccharide as an alternative. Galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS), fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS), polydextrose, inulin and their mixtures are the most common prebiotics that have been developed for infants. Among these the most studied prebiotic is a combination of Galacto-oligosaccharides and Fructo-oligosaccharides (GOS & FOS).

In case of insufficient breast milk, baby formula that contains GOS/ FOS (oligosaccharides) should be considered. Insufficient beneficial bacteria in infants make them prone to common gut infections.

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There are over 30 clinical studies and 55 peer reviewed publications on clinical benefits of GOS/FOS. The latest studies show clinical benefits in terms of lesser incidence of diarrhea, upper respiratory tract infections, lesser use of antibiotics, less allergies and softer stools.

Moreover, there are no side effects of prebiotics and they are considered safe for term as well as preterm infants by US FDA and European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). Ultimately prebiotics tell us the golden old rule “Prevention is better than Cure” and are a useful tool in making every child a healthy child. And as it is said, a healthy child is a happy child! (IANS)

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Old and Gold Tips to Boost Immunity

Age old traditions to boost immunity

It's time to look homeward and rediscover our age old traditions to boost our immunity at such trying times. Pixabay

The modern lifestyle mantra revolves around the concept of “Detox”. Magazines and social media continuously feed us with umpteen choices and the newest trends in foods and beverages that promise us health.

But very often, we fall in the abyss of marketing, social media trends and forget our traditional Indian rituals, busy adopting imported concepts. How many times are we guilty as charged for ordering a Turmeric Latte and forgetting it is the same ‘Haldi Milk’ or ‘Golden Milk’, made in our kitchens with milk, haldi, kesar and nutmeg. Or simply forgetting our humble ‘Kada mix’, and opting for fancier Kombutcha, Matcha or Chamomile tea.

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The latest to join the bandwagon of social media food fads is the “Dalgona Coffee”, a South Korean import, which is basic whipped cream coffee, made with simple 3 ingredients- instant coffee, milk and sugar.

Turmeric milk is known to boost immunity. Pixabay

So, it’s time to look homeward and rediscover our age old traditions to boost our immunity at such trying times.

“It wouldn’t be wrong to say that India has a long history of utilising traditional and organic ingredients to cure many ailments. The contribution of Indian spices to health has been well chronicled since Vedic times. They are addressed as “healing foods” in many such texts,” says Karan Shah, Director, Society Tea.

Indigenous ingredients such as ginger, asafoetida, cardamom, black pepper, clove, cinnamon, green tea extract, turmeric powder amongst others, – know to remove toxins from the body, working towards cleansing one’s system.

“The ingredients used help to accelerate metabolism and build immunity. Refreshing and energising to taste, this tea contains ingredients like turmeric which is known to be beneficial for skin related problems, common cold, etc. Specially crafted for those always on-the-move; to restart a healthy lifestyle,” Shah adds.

And why restrict to only tea concoctions? Some of the best kept secrets of our grandmothers is the good old pickle and chutney. Prepared by the sustainable method of fermentation of fruits and vegetables throughout the year, with seasonal and perennial variants, the pickles are a source of good bacteria to ensure our gut-health. A good gut-health in turn promises better digestion.

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Heritage pickles taste amazing and can also boost immunity. Pixabay

“Heritage pickle recipes that have been passed down over generations, come together to create the spicy Mango pickle, while the amazing combination of mango, jaggery and spices combine and form the Sweet and Spicy Mango pickle. To top it all, the freshest seasonal ingredients and fruits chopped finely and pickled in a traditional a blend of spices come together to create the Mixed Pickle, whilst tangy, plump lemons mixed with crisp, green chilies and select spices combine and form a Green Chili Lime Pickle, says Shah.

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And who can miss the Dry Garlic Chutney, pride of Rajasthan made with best of spices combined in a mortar and pestle, while the choicest ingredients come together to concoct the sweet and sour Tamarind-Dates Chutney, or the traditional recipe of pink onions, tamarind, jaggery and select spices that make the timeless Onion Chutney?

So, while we sit at home during the quarantine, it is a great opportunity to explore health wisdom from our kitchens, and incorporate them to daily diets for a healthy lifestyle. (IANS)