Research on humans and lab rats has got scientists all fired up about the health benefits of prebiotics in recent times. One study showed how taking prebiotics as a daily supplement could actually boost the absorption of calcium and magnesium inside the gut. The researchers suggest that this could help to build stronger, healthier bones during those adolescent years.
Researchers at Purdue University, West Lafayette, say that the inclusion somewhere between 2 – 6 percent of a group of prebiotics called GOS (galactooligosaccharides) saw the following results in lab rats:
- A notable increase in the utilization of both magnesium (1.7 %) and calcium (3%)
- Improvements in the bone properties of developing (growing) rats
In this video, Dr. Alexander Shikhman talks about the prebiotics you've probably never heard of, and he explains why they are so important to human health.
Bones and Fibers
Science is learning more all the time about the health benefits of prebiotic fibers, and especially in the field which looks at the potential benefits to bone health. The way these fibers assist bone strength is by actually changing the composition of your gut intestinal flora (flora found within the colon). It works because these prebiotic fibers feed the good bacteria in the gut, thus helping them to thrive and survive. The upshot of this is that the beneficial bacteria get to produce something scientists call short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). These SCFAs can decrease the pH inside the intestine. This results in an improved solubility of all the minerals that are present. Needless to say, this is how both calcium and magnesium are better absorbed inside the host body.
Why this Is so Important in Adolescents
These findings are important because it's crucial to maximize the build-up of bone throughout those pubescent years. It's important because it reduces the risk of a condition called osteoporosis later in life. This is a condition whereby bones become weakened and brittle, so delicate in fact that they can fracture even under mild stresses.
Post-menopausal women are also in the high-risk category and should therefore try to boost their bone density by improving diet or by taking supplements. At the last count, a guesstimated 75,000,000 people currently suffer with osteoporosis in the US, Europe and Japan. Women are actually four times more prone to develop the condition than their male counterparts.
Read the Science
Research into this field of study is ongoing. You can read an abstract from the scientific angle here:
Prebiotics, probiotics, and synbiotics affect mineral absorption, bone mineral content, and bone structure.