Digestive Health

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Digestive Health and Prebiotics

1. What about “colon cleansing”?

From a medical and scientific standpoint, colon cleansing makes no sense. You can never rid your colon of bacteria, nor should you ever want to. The good bacteria are your friends and should be fed properly. “Colon cleansing” is advertised as: Enemas – These are often called colonics or high colonic enemas. All of them simply empty out the lower portion of the colon. Nothing more. Within minutes after a colonic, bacteria begin to grow in this empty portion. And you should hope they are the good ones. Herbal formulas – Some herbs such as cascara and senna or sennasides are true stimulant or, what we in medicine call, irritant laxatives. These can be useful for temporary constipation. Virtually all the other herbs put in colon cleansing formulas provide nothing but plant fiber. There is probably nothing wrong with any of them but few or none of them have the medical research behind them that there is for inulin, oligofructose and our special formula, oligofructose enriched inulin. Additionally, these herbal formulas are much more expensive than eating fresh foods that contain natural fiber. Psyllium – some manufacturers promote psyllium as a “cleansing” agent. Psyllium is simply a plant fiber that encourages a large, bulky stool. We are not sure what is meant when psyllium is referred to as a cleansing agent.

2. What about “toxins” in the colon?

Medically, these are called “endotoxins”. Many bacteria in the colon make endotoxins or toxins. E. coli is one such commonly known bacteria. It is almost impossible to get rid of most of these bacteria completely. What is known to help is to use prebiotics such as Prebiotin. Prebiotics vigorously stimulate the good bacteria to grow and, in so doing, restrict the bad endotoxin producing ones from growing. An even more important fact just recently discovered is the fact when “bad” bacteria predominate in the colon, then the lining of the gut becomes weaker. The endotoxins or toxins from colon bacteria are then able to more easily move through the colon wall and into the blood stream. This, indeed, is what a leaky gut is. Prebiotics and Prebiotin can help prevent this from happening.

3. Are probiotics helpful for a healthy person?

Probiotics are live bacteria most commonly found in yogurt, other dairy products and pills. There is now good medical research to indicate that probiotics provide positive digestive health benefits when they become a significant part of the entire bacterial mix within the colon. It is particularly important that enough nutrients are provided to encourage the growth of these bacteria. That is why a prebiotic such as Prebiotin can be so important. Prebitoics enhance the power of probiotics.

4. What are the best probiotics?

The names of these organisms unfortunately are technically difficult names for those not familiar with the field. Still, these are the names on the labels of yogurt, other dairy products and pills. The best probiotics seem to be:
+ Lactobacillus (L.) acidophilus
+ L. bulgaricus
+ L. rhamnosus
+ L. casei
+ Bifidebacterium (B.) longum
+ B.fidum
+ B. breve
+ Streptococcus thermophilus
+ Saccharomyces boulardii
Yogurt will often have a blend of several of these good bacteria species.

5. In what medical conditions have probiotics been found to be useful?

First, no probiotic should be taken for a medical problem without a physician’s concurrence.  With this understanding, the following medical disorders have shown improvement with a specific probiotic.  It needs to be stressed that in each of the conditions below a specific and different probiotic was helpful.

  • Childhood diarrhea due to a virus
  • Diarrhea when an antibiotic is taken
  • Diarrhea due to bacteria called C. diff (clostridium difficile)
  • Diarrhea when traveling overseas in developing countries
  • Dermatitis due to allergies, especially in children
  • Pouchitis after surgical removal of the colon
  • Bloating due to irritable bowel syndrome

6. Are Prebiotin and Prebiotin-Bone Health supplements gluten free?

Yes. Our prebiotic supplements for celiac disease and better bone density and strength have been independently tested and are gluten free. They are an effective replacement for celiac disease probiotic supplements as well.

7. Why do some celiac patients still have symptoms even after they are on a gluten-free diet (GFD)?

There may be another GI problem present such as irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease or some other disorder. Another possibility is the fact that when a GFD is followed and wheat is withdrawn from the diet, that there is a precipitous reduction in food prebiotics. This, in turn, can result in a significant deterioration in the bacteria makeup of the gut. Symptoms may result. Adding prebiotic-rich foods and/or a prebiotic supplement such as gluten-free Prebiotin may be helpful.

8. Why do some celiacs have constipation while on a gluten-free diet?

Of course, there may be another cause for constipation such as an underactive thyroid gland. In addition, a GFD removes wheat from the diet and wheat is a rich source of prebiotics. Prebiotics and prebiotic supplements indirectly stimulate the wall of the colon to make more nerve cells, which in turn can make the colon more active. This research has been found in animals. It may be that a similar result can occur in humans. The easy way to test this is to use a prebiotic supplement such as Prebiotin for at least several months and see if constipation improves.

9. Where can I get the best information on celiac disease and gluten intolerance?

An experienced dietitian should be seen first so that the basics of a gluten-free diet are well understood. In addition, there are excellent non-profit support groups online at:

  • Gluten Intolerance Group (gluten.net)
  • National Foundation for Gluten Awareness (celiaccentral.org)
  • National Institutes of Health (nih.gov.org-search for celiac disease)
In many parts of the country, there are local celiac and gluten support groups. A prebiotic supplement may help with the symptoms of celiac disease.

10. Do enzymes help celiac disease?

No, they do not. An enzyme is simply a protein like any other protein in the body or in the food we eat. Within the body an enzyme’s special role is to dramatically speed up a metabolic process. The pancreas juice is loaded with different digestive enzymes to break down protein, fat and carbohydrates in our food. The small bowel also makes some enzymes such as sucrase and lactase which, in the untreated celiac, may be lacking. Additionally, there are many, many enzymes throughout the body that are made for us. It is not possible nor needed to give these by mouth. More importantly, most enzymes that are taken by mouth are quickly rendered ineffective by the strong acid in the stomach. They then are simply broken down by the pancreatic juices into amino acids and absorbed like any other protein that is eaten. Some enzymes may be needed when there is pancreatic disease and the pancreas does not make enough of these naturally occurring enzymes, but in the absence of pancreas problems, enzymes generally are not needed and are not known to help any other condition.

11. What about autism and gluten or celiac disease?

It is very unlikely that gluten is related to autism. Over many thousands of years, wheat has been a major part of the human diet. It is only in the last 30-40 years that the incidence of autism has been seen to markedly increase. What has also increased during this time are the marked number of chemicals and additives in the foods we eat. Prepared foods in boxes and packages are the suspected ones. Fresh foods have none of these additives. Prebiotics and prebiotic supplements come from vegetable fibers and have no additives. If a person is placed on a gluten free diet, then prebiotic- rich foods and/or a prebiotic supplement such as Prebiotin can be used.

12. What is the gut microbiota?

The microbiota is a fancy medical term for the incredible mix of bacteria within the colon. This may be a good or bad mix depending on the diet eaten and whether there are enough prebiotics in it to stimulate the good bacteria to grow. The Prebiotin prebiotic supplement is pure prebiotic and it stimulates the growth of a good microbiota.

13. Why is the bacterial mix or microbiota important to the celiac or anyone on a gluten free diet?

The answer to this question is now clear. Wheat has been and is the major source of prebiotics in the diet. This prebiotic is what has kept the microbiota or the bacterial mix in the gut healthy. When wheat is withdrawn, so are the valuable prebiotics. The colon bacterial mix deteriorates. Other prebiotic-rich and gluten- free foods or prebiotic supplements should replace that which is lost when wheat is no longer eaten. A prebiotic supplement such as Prebiotin is appropriate to assure you that adequate prebiotics are in the diet.