The most recent snowstorm has left four-foot drifts here at NeuroScience, and we find ourselves fantasizing wistfully about warmer climes. The riches of the desert never cease to amaze, and their benefits show up in the unlikeliest places. Did you know, for example, that the prickly pear cactus (Opuntia ficus indica) contains high levels of soluble and insoluble fiber, which is ideal for slowing down the release of dietary sugars into the bloodstream? This fact was recently highlighted by Dr. Oz in his program, The 7 Wonders of the Natural World (go to the 2:00 mark in his video).
How does the cactus fit into what we do at NeuroScience? The benefits of prickly pear, it turns out, are manifold. Ever vigilant in identifying innovative, natural products to improve GI health, the folks in NeuroScience’s NEI Nutrition™ division were among the first to recognize its value in healing the damaged GI tract.
It all begins with our appreciation that imbalances in the Neuro-Endo-Immune Supersystem© can often be traced back to disturbances in the GI tract. The intestinal mucous layer is a vital protective barrier that acts a molecular “sieve”, keeping out large molecules, food antigens, and pathogens while still allowing for the passage of vital nutrients. The mucous layer also supports symbiotic microflora (or “good” bacteria) so essential to our health. Damage to either the mucous or epithelial layer results in an increase in intestinal permeability or “leaky gut”, an altered microflora milieu, and ultimately disturbances in the NEI Supersystem© with health implications that transcend the gut.
Prickly pear leaves contain a combination of carbohydrate-containing polymers as well as fiber to supply a healing mixture of mucilage and pectin. In addition, prickly pear increases the activity of goblet cells, specialized cells in the GI tract that produce protective mucus. We have found that prickly pear supports mucosal tissues better than other ingredients in the marketplace, and that is why you’ll find certified organic prickly pear cactus in our GI Barrier Repair product, part of our 6-week GI Repair System.
As a bonus, research suggests that prickly pear cactus also supports healthy blood lipids as well as control carbohydrate metabolism, as highlighted by Dr. Oz.
If you think prickly pear cactus is innovative, take a look at the rest of NEI Nutrition’s approach to GI health!
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