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Prebiotics and Synbiotics May Improve Cholesterol and Insulin Levels

People who are obese have a higher risk of type-2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and triglycerides, coronary heart disease and stroke. A recent study suggests that taking prebiotic and synbiotic supplements may help overweight and obese people improve their cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

Prebiotics are nondigestible carbohydrates that act as food for probiotics. Probiotics are bacteria that are similar to beneficial microorganisms found in the human gut. Synbiotics are a combination of prebiotics and probiotics.

For this study, researchers examined data from 13 clinical trials that included 513 overweight and obese adults. Nine of those trials included prebiotics and the other four looked at synbiotics.

The researchers found that taking prebiotic supplements was associated with lower LDL and total cholesterol levels as well as improved triglyceride and HDL levels in obese people with diabetes. The synbiotics, however, were only associated with lower fasting insulin levels and lower triglyceride concentrations.

Researchers from the Federal University of Santa Catarina in Brazil conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on October 20, 2014, in Clinical Nutrition.

While probiotics are most commonly linked to improving digestion and gut health, they have also been shown to have other health benefits, including a stronger immune system, and a reduced risk of chronic disease.

Probiotics can be found naturally in many foods, such as yogurt, milk and sauerkraut. You may also consider taking a high quality supplement but make sure it is packaged to block light, air and moisture, which can easily kill probiotics.

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