Pharmaceutical companies have developed a number of probiotics, prebiotics, and synbiotics aimed at improving gut health.
Probiotics, Prebiotics, and Synbiotics Science
Probiotics, prebiotics, and synbiotics are additional pharmaceutical products that have joined the array of fiber supplements on pharmacy shelves. Probiotics, prebiotics, and synbiotics are also aimed at improving gut function based on emerging science. In my blog and under the “Fiber/IBD Research” tab, I will present and discuss the scientific foundation for the use of probiotics, prebiotics, and synbiotics to improve gut function.
Probiotics are “live organisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.”1 In other words, probiotics are good bacteria that we want to flourish in our guts.
Prebiotics are defined as “a non-digestible food ingredient that beneficially affects the host by selectively stimulating the growth and/or activity of one or a limited number of bacteria in the colon.”2 In other words, prebiotics are a substance that is a food source for the good bacteria that we want to promote in the gut. It is important to remember that fiber is the part of food that is non-digestible (by human enzymes); thus, prebiotics = fiber.
Synbiotics are products that contain both probiotics and prebiotics.
- Sanders ME. Probiotics: definition, sources, selection, and uses. Clin Infect Dis 2008;46:S58-S61.
- Schrezenmeir J, de Vrese M. Probiotics, prebiotics, and synbiotics–approaching a definition. Am J Clin Nutr 2001;73:361S-364S.