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Prebiotic and Probiotic Facts and Information

Updated/Revised Date: 2021-06-19

Synopsis: Information and facts on the types and uses of both prebiotics and probiotics for human health enhancement. Prebiotics come from types of carbohydrates (sugars, starches and fibers found in fruits, grains, vegetables and milk products) but mainly fiber that humans can't digest. Live probiotic cultures are part of fermented dairy products, other fermented foods, and probiotic-fortified foods and can be obtained from foods such as yogurt and sauerkraut.

Main Document

Defining Prebiotic and Probiotic Difference

Prebiotics
Prebiotics are a form of dietary fiber that feed friendly bacteria in your digestive system. Prebiotics are special plant fibers that help healthy bacteria grow in your gut. This makes your digestive system work better by allowing your gut bacteria to produce nutrients for your colon cells, which leads to a healthier digestive system. Prebiotics come from types of carbohydrates (sugars, starches and fibers found in fruits, grains, vegetables and milk products) but mainly fiber that humans can't digest. The beneficial bacteria in your digestive system eat this fiber. Prebiotics can be obtained from foods such as onions, garlic, soybeans, whole grains, bananas, greens and artichokes. In addition, probiotics and prebiotics are added to some foods and are also available as dietary supplements.

Recent Publications:

Probiotics
Probiotics are tiny living microorganisms, including bacteria and yeast, found in some foods or supplements that provide health benefits.The World Health Organization (WHO) defines probiotics as "live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host." Probiotics are part of a bigger picture concerning bacteria and your body - namely your microbiome. Live probiotic cultures are part of fermented dairy products, other fermented foods, and probiotic-fortified foods and can be obtained from foods such as yogurt and sauerkraut. Lactobacillus is one of the most common probiotics.

You don't necessarily need probiotics, foods or supplements that contain "good" bacteria, to be healthy. However, these microorganisms may help with digestion and offer protection from harmful bacteria, just as the existing "good" bacteria in your body already do.

Assortment of tablets including probiotic supplement pills.
Assortment of tablets including probiotic supplement pills.

At the start of the 20th century, probiotics were thought to beneficially affect the host by improving its intestinal microbial balance, thus inhibiting pathogens and toxin producing bacteria. Today, specific health effects are being investigated and documented including alleviation of chronic intestinal inflammatory diseases, prevention and treatment of pathogen-induced diarrhea, urogenital infections, and atopic diseases.

Probiotics are live microorganisms thought to be healthy for the host organism. According to the currently adopted definition by FAO/WHO, probiotics are: "Live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host".

Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) and bifidobacteria are the most common types of microbes used as probiotics; but certain yeasts and bacilli may also be helpful. Probiotics are commonly consumed as part of fermented foods with specially added active live cultures; such as in yogurt, soy yogurt, or as dietary supplements.

Experiments into the benefits of probiotic therapies suggest a range of potentially beneficial medicinal uses for probiotics. For many of the potential benefits, research is limited and only preliminary results are available. It should be noted that the effects described are not general effects of probiotics. Recent research on the molecular biology and genomics of Lactobacillus has focused on the interaction with the immune system, anti-cancer potential, and potential as a biotherapeutic agent in cases of antibiotic-associated diarrhea, travelers' diarrhea, pediatric diarrhea, inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome.

Research is emerging on the potential health benefits of multiple probiotic strains as a health supplement as opposed to a single strain. The human gut is home to some 400-500 types of microbes. It is thought that this diverse environment may benefit from multiple probiotic strains; different strains populate different areas of the digestive tract, and studies are beginning to link different probiotic strains to specific health benefits.

Probiotics Added to Fruit Juice

Probiotics are often added to products in order provide additional nutritional benefits to the consumer, thus making them "functional foods." A new study in the Journal of Food Science, published by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), found that fruit juices could potentially be good carriers for two different kinds of probiotics. The study found that certain strains of probiotics are stable in a fruit juice, namely a mix of red-fruits, and doesn't affect the sensory score.

Currently most probiotic foods are dairy-based, but there is a growing interest toward nondairy probiotic products because of lactose intolerance and cholesterol content. Fruit juices are appealing due to their high content in beneficial nutrients like minerals, vitamins, dietary fibers, and antioxidants, and with additional research could become a good source of probiotics as well.

Probiotics: Facts, Contradictions and Studies

More research is needed but there is encouraging evidence probiotics may also help:

NOTE: Studies on the medical benefits of probiotics have yet to reveal a cause-effect relationship, and their medical effectiveness has yet to be conclusively proven for most of the studies conducted thus far.

Subtopics and Associated Subjects

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Cite This Page (APA): Disabled World. (2021, June 19). Prebiotic and Probiotic Facts and Information. Disabled World. Retrieved January 24, 2022 from www.disabled-world.com/medical/alternative/probiotics/