On nutrition: questions about granola and probiotics

We are horseback camping in the Hill Country of Texas. And since this is our second year here with horses and dogs in tow, we are officially what the locals call the “Winter Texans.” At least for the next few weeks we’ll be off the grid…but not really.

We have electricity and running water, woo-hoo! And we survive without television or cell service, unless we walk to the top of a hill. So I think this week is the right one to respond to readers’ letters.

Sue S. of Nebraska writes: “I tried the granola bar recipe you published in the Lincoln Journal Star. I cut the recipe in half. The only thing I changed was pure olive oil instead of canola oil. I cooked them at the right temperature and for the right time. But when I tried to cut it, they fell apart. So now I use it in yogurt treats. But I’m just wondering what I did wrong.

Looks like you didn’t do anything wrong, Sue. Except the recipe was for granola, not granola bars. So yes, it should be crumbly.

Brian S., also from Lincoln, asks: “Can you please provide any reliable clinical studies, books or journals that discuss how pre and probiotics are not destroyed by stomach acids or shelf life in order to be truly useful for improvement. the health of the intestinal biome? What is the best practice regarding quantities and types of live microorganisms? »

I’m not sure anyone has all the answers to your questions, Brian. One reason is that the number of bacteria – good and bad – that reside in our digestive tract probably exceeds the national debt. Discovering from these billions of microorganisms which particular genus (like Lactobacillus), species (like acidophilus), and strain (like NCFM) is best for each individual health condition is extremely tricky. Additionally, each of us has a unique collection of these different organisms.

As you mentioned, it is important to know that the product you swallow will still be alive after passing through our digestive tract. You can start by checking how many CFUs (colony forming units) – living organisms – a product contains. Scientists are also investigating the use of various capsules to help probiotics survive the journey through stomach acids.

Look for brands that have research to back them up for the specific reason you’re looking for. Activia probiotic yogurt, for example, provides more than 18 clinical studies to support the specific culture used in its products marketed for digestive health.

Other good resources include the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics and the International Probiotic Association, which publishes guidelines for manufacturers of these products.

Also remember that we can find these good substances in our food. Probiotics survive thanks to prebiotics, substances found in the fibrous part of the foods we eat. Thus, these prebiotic “fermentable fibers” nourish the beneficial probiotic bacteria present in our intestines. And everybody is happy.

Foods containing beneficial bacteria (probiotics) include yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, tempeh, and kimchi. Good sources of fermentable fiber (prebiotics) include dried beans and other legumes, garlic, asparagus, onions, leeks and other plant foods.

Barbara Quinn-Intermill is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator affiliated with Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula. She is the author of “Quinn-Essential Nutrition” (Westbow Press, 2015). Send him an email at (email protected).

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