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Understanding the Role of Prebiotics in Elderly Health

By Lauren Robison, 9:00 am on

As a leading provider of senior care in New Hampshire, we often discuss with clients how probiotics (live bacteria and yeasts) can be an effective digestive aid for seniors. However, prebiotics (non-digestible carbohydrates) can be just as beneficial when it comes to elderly health. Prebiotics are more durable than probiotics and a better choice for seniors who may have issues with dairy foods, the best natural source of probiotics.

Prebiotics and Digestion

Prebiotics are specialized fibers that act as food for “good bacteria” already in the large colon. These fibers, which remain undigested, promote healthy bacteria growth to facilitate the digestion process. Prebiotics can be naturally consumed in the following foods:

• Raw and cooked onions
• Wheat flour (baked)
• Raw bananas
• Raw garlic

Note: Most reliable natural sources of prebiotics are raw foods only.

Helping Seniors with Chronic Digestive Disorders

Prebiotics can help seniors with digestive disorders such as Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and constipation. Unlike probiotics, prebiotics aren’t susceptible to damage from stomach acid, so these fibers stick around to foster healthy bacteria growth throughout the digestive system. This abundance of bacteria can ease senior digestive issues by moving things along naturally without the need for additional medications.

Promoting Vitamin and Mineral Absorption

Many seniors take daily supplements to compensate for the loss of essential minerals and vitamins like calcium and magnesium. Prebiotics can help with the absorption process, allowing more of the ingredients in supplements to get into the bloodstream. Research suggests that prebiotics may also promote stronger bones, reduce triglyceride levels, reduce abnormal bacterial leakage, and reduce intestinal infections.

Prebiotics can be combined with probiotics to address multiple dietary and digestive needs in seniors. Since it can be difficult to sustain a diet that includes a significant amount of raw vegetables, supplements tend to be a better source of prebiotics for seniors.

Interested in learning more about senior health and wellness? Reach out to the experienced staff at Home Care Assistance. We provide hourly, live-in, and specialized Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and dementia home care in New Hampshire. Our top priority is promoting senior wellness, and our proprietary care methods focus on all aspects of aging, physical, mental, and emotional. To learn more, give us a call at (603) 471-3004 and request a free in-home consultation.