Over the past few years, the skeptical me has come to terms with the fact that some food additives are better than I ever expected they’d be. Nowhere is this more true than in the case of prebiotics.
According to Marcel Roberfoid, who first identified and named them in 1995:
"A prebiotic is a selectively fermented ingredient that allows specific changes, both in the composition and/or activity in the gastrointestinal microflora that confers benefits upon host well-being and health."
In other words, prebiotics are helpful for optimal intestinal health. Though they come in easy to swallow powders, capsules, and even in specific ingredients (like raw oats and soybeans), most pets are only fed prebiotics in their foods when their veterinarian recommends a specialized diet that contains them. Prebiotics are usually prescribed for animals suffering from obvious intestinal disease. But not always.
For your greater edification, here are five reasons vets love to use prebiotics:
- Calcium and mineral absorption appears to increase in the presence of prebiotics. Tell me that’s not a good thing.
- Prebiotics support the workings of the normal intestinal immune system, and even appear to improve the immune system with regular use. Again, a very good thing.
- In humans, prebiotics reduce the risk of certain intestinal cancers, and it’s postulated they might have the same effect in pets.
- Prebiotics also appear to be reducing the inflammation associated with aberrations of the immune system, such as those associated with dietary intolerances, true food allergies, and disorders that manifest as ulcerative colitis.
- Whenever pets suffer minor gastrointestinal (GI) disturbances that manifest as diarrhea or gas, many veterinarians will now reach for a prebiotic to more quickly assuage these symptoms.
But mostly, veterinarians like prebiotics because — very simply — they do work.
Dr. Patty Khuly