Mckinney Courier-gazette > News
“Pro” or “Pre” Biotics
– OR “Synbiotics” and Their Efficacy?
By Cheramy Rusbuldt, Viewpoint
Forgive me this foray into the advertising world I inhabited for so many years with major corporate clients and stellar, award-winning agencies on Madison Avenue. But I have noticed in the recent past that there are SO many health claims on TV...including those pertaining to humans as well as canines...I am confused.
Some of Mad Avenue turns out to be true. Example: I have not used bleach for several years because the oxygen product works better, doesn’t destroy the fabrics, and my antique dealer friends use it for delicate linens. But, I have been unsure about my own insides.
So, in a search for truth, I have navigated the Internet to get some guidance BEFORE I stroll the pharmaceutical or dairy aisles. As a retiree (and grandmother), I do contemplate the not-too-distant future when I will occupy the same frightening place my parents and grandparents peopled before me. But, I hope I can be a little more enlightened about those closing years so I can be with my progeny as long as possible without becoming a burden.
Enter the (in my mind) recent onslaught of TV ads about “probiotics” amd “prebiotics.” Nothing in either pitch made much sense to me (chalk that up to a lack of a medical degree and the current trend of less-than-30-second ads) with characters slurping dairy products in an almost R-rated ecstasy and old dogs regaining puppy behavior through a magical mix in a bag.
So, when I decided to look up the real science of all that, I found some amazing things NOT included in Madison Avenue’s scripts:
To wit: The concept of “Probiotics” dates back to the 1800’s, including Pasteur and Nobel winner Elie Metchnikoff. “Prebiotics” are newer. “Pro” are live microbial food ingredients which exert health benefits, while “Pre” are nondigestible food ingredients which stimulate growth of bacteria in the (ahem) colon. And to further confuse the recipe, combining the two is called “Synbiotics.”
“Pro” is consumed mostly in Japan and Europe. “Pre” can be either natural or synthesized.” So, in my ignorance, I think the “Pro” is more natural, but I have no benchmark to judge one against the other.
In my naïveté, I am sorta thinking that if I believe I need any “biotics,” I should eat plenty of natural stuff like celery and other vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and perhaps less fat (which is probably killing me, since I love steak, pork and other forbidden stuff!)
This is not about weight loss. We all get plenty of that on TV and in the mail. It is not about aspirin saving us from a fatty heart attack or stroke. It is slick advertising pushing “pro” and “pre” biotics about which we mere mortals have absolutely NO knowledge.
So, do we go to the grocery store and pay homage to the “pro” and “pre” goddesses or do we just use common sense, which means feeding our families healthy fruits and vegetables, requiring exercise, adequate sleep, etc....that’s what our own parents did to keep us alive and healthy!
I have long loved Madison Avenue. I had a great career dealing with those creative, provocative geniuses. But, if the facts don’t fit the slogans, we all need to take notice. The “fine print” gets smaller and smaller on commercials, and the time on the screen get less and less. If you can’t understand the disclaimers or they are on the screen too briefly to read...RUN! There is a reason.
And shop for your family with your own senses in charge. This is not about politics (I hope), but it is about credibility. “Pre” or “Pro” might mean something, but if you follow a sensible mix of homemade and take-out, we should be able to weather this phony assault.
Cheramy Rusbuldt is a freelance journalist who lives in McKinney’s Historic District.