Because of spam, I personally moderate all comments left on my blog. However, because of health issues, I will not be able to do so in the future.

If you have a personal question about LI or any related topic you can send me an email at I will try to respond.

Otherwise, this blog is now a legacy site, meaning that I am not updating it any longer. The basic information about LI is still sound. However, product information and weblinks may be out of date.

In addition, my old website, Planet Lactose, has been taken down because of the age of the information. Unfortunately, that means links to the site on this blog will no longer work.

For quick offline reference, you can purchase Planet Lactose: The Best of the Blog as an ebook on or Almost 100,000 words on LI, allergies, milk products, milk-free products, and the genetics of intolerance, along with large helpings of the weirdness that is the Net.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Prebiotics and Probiotics

Everyone who has lactose intolerance should know by now that one of the major sources of symptoms can be the bacteria that live in your colon. More than 500 known species of bacteria have been found living in people, and like any group of 500 you find a range from the very good to the very bad.

For us, the bad bacteria are the ones that ferment any lactose that reaches them. The fermentation process releases gas, just like it does when beer is made. And you probably know all too well what the gas can do.

You can change the "bad" bacteria into "good" bacteria, the type that digests lactose rather than ferments it by using probiotics. Probiotics, literally "for life" contain the good bacteria and the idea is that the good bacteria will dominate the bad ones. I've written many times before about probiotics. The live and active cultures in yogurt are probiotics. You can also buy the bacteria in pill form in such products as Digestive Advantage and Lactagen.

What are prebiotics? Wesley Canfield of the Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center talks about them in his column.

Prebiotics ("before life") are nondigestible or fiber components of foods, usually complex carbohydrates that beneficially affect the host by stimulating the growth of intestinal bacteria. Certain bacteria prefer a particular prebiotic to use as a source of energy.

There are some potentially major advantages to eating more prebiotics, he says.

In addition to making vitamins, intestinal bacteria also produce other nutrients of benefit. We've all heard advice about limiting our intake of fats, especially saturated ones. However, not all saturated fats are bad for us. Many of the gut bacteria ferment digestion-resistant fiber to short-chain saturated fatty acids. These fats have two to four carbon atoms.

Acetate, propionate and butyrate all are examples of SCFA. Some scientists estimate that up to 10 percent of a person's daily energy needs can be met by using the SCFA as fuel. Butyrate, in particular, has been shown to have anti-cancer effects in animals. In addition, a probiotic containing butyrate-producing bacteria also reduced cancer formation in an animal model.

Another way of increasing butyrate production by intestinal bacteria is to eat prebiotics similar to the high-galactose type found in breast milk. Inulin, for example, is a type of high-fructose, nondigestible fiber that is present in wheat and onions. Many studies in both humans and animals have demonstrated the bifidobacteria-promoting benefits of inulin and other high-fructose prebiotics.

Prebiotics and probiotics. All part of a good healthy diet. Eat enough of them and hopefully you won't have to take any antibiotics.

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1 comment:

Margo Dill said...

Probiotics deliver positive results in nearly all cases of allergies. They can reduce the severity of hives, hay fever, asthma and food allergies.

In the final instance, the good bacteria strengthen the intestinal lining and reduce the sensitivity of the gut to foods that could potentially cause irritation/intolerances.