Critical Health News

Inulin & FOS: Benefits of Prebiotics

Chemicals

If you’re a label reader, you’ve probably run across the terms inulin and oligofructose (also known as fructooligosaccharides or FOS) on various processed food ingredient decks including those on soups, yogurt, cereals, breads, snack and energy bars, cookies and cakes. Although naturally found in various plants and veggies, like onions and grains and bananas, asparagus and Jerusalem artichoke, and chicory root, inulin and oligofructose are also industrially prized for their ability to provide a non-caloric sweetening benefit and are most often found in the standard American diet in the form of processed food additives. In addition to their inclusion in processed foods, these ingredients can be found as stand-alone products marketed as diabetic friendly sweeteners, with names like Fruta-Fit, Frutalose or simply Inulin/FOS.

Technically inulins and FOS are “fructans”, which are long molecular chains of the fruit sugar known as fructose. By linking many fructose molecules together, the characteristic sweetness of the fruit sugar is dampened and its spiking effects on blood sugar are mitigated. From a chemical structure standpoint, the only difference between inulin and FOS involves the sizes (lengths) of FOS molecules, basically being little inulin chunks or short chains of fructose that are formed by the breakdown of the parent inulin element.

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Melatonin

Sleep

Everyone knows you can take melatonin to help you sleep but it’s actually involved in much more than brain health. In addition to being an important digestive hormone, melatonin is involved in supporting the body’s defense system, it has anti-inflammatory properties, it can help lower blood pressure, stabilize blood sugar and it’s been used medically for anti-fibrosis properties. And that’s not all. Savvy practitioners have used it to treat tinnitus and fibromyalgia as well. It can help build bone. And it’s a powerful anti-aging molecule that helps prevent cancer too; that’s a lot of benefits for a non-toxic supplement that will cost you less 2 cents a dose!

Levels of melatonin and the alertness hormone serotonin cycle back and forth, with dark of night and light of day. Serotonin, the hormone which promotes vigilance and awareness of the environment, is secreted in response to the sun as perceived by the pineal gland, while it’s production hormonal partner melatonin predominates at night. This back and forth dance of hormones with day-night cycles is part of what biologists call a circadian (daily) rhythm.

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Importance of Sleep

Sleep

One of the key weapons in the so-called “War on Terrorism” is what the George W. Bush administration officials called Enhanced Interrogation Techniques. Featuring nebulous or mildly discomforting names like “waterboarding”, “the attention grab” and “long time standing”, that inspire confusing or perhaps mildly uncomfortable images, EITs are either lauded as wonderful tools for saving American lives or illegal government-sanctioned torture.

One of the most dramatic apparently is too severe to make the list of officially approved EITs. While no one officially owns up to it, according to at least one released prisoner, a British national, “one guard had told him that he was following orders by making as much noise as possible while detainees …tried to sleep”.

So what’s wrong with a little sleep deprivation? Can’t be that big a deal right? Wrong! Sleep deprivation is a big deal, a very big deal. Aside from the obvious grumpiness and irritability associated with a lack of shut eye, sleep deprivation can have serious consequences for overall health and wellness.

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