Prebiotic (nutrition)

Prebiotic (nutrition)

Prebiotics are a category of functional food, defined as::"Non-digestible food ingredients that beneficially affect the host by selectively stimulating the growth and/or activity of one or a limited number of bacteria in the colon, and thus improve host health". [Gibson GR, Roberfroid MB. "Dietary modulation of the human colonic microbiota: introducing the concept of prebiotics." J Nutr. 1995 Jun;125(6):1401-12. PMID ]

This was updated by Roberfroid in 2007 J. Nutr.; 137:830S to: "A prebiotic is ‘‘a selectively fermented ingredient that allows specific changes, both in the composition and/or activity in the gastrointestinal microflora that confers benefits upon host well-being and health.’’ Today, only 2 dietary nondigestible oligosaccharides fulfill all the criteria for prebiotic classification." Those 2 being fructooligosaccharides and galactooligosaccharides. Use of the term other than in that manner is incorrect, since all oligosaccharides do not fit this definition, i.e. mannanoligosaccharides (MOS). They may confer other positive benefits, but are minimally utilized by the comensural bacteria.

Typically, prebiotics are carbohydrates (such as oligosaccharides), but the definition does not preclude non-carbohydrates. The most prevalent forms of prebiotics are nutritionally classed as soluble fibre. To some extent, many forms of dietary fibre exhibit some level of prebiotic effect.


The prebiotic definition does not emphasize a specific bacterial group. Generally, however, it is assumed that a prebiotic should increase the number and/or activity of bifidobacteria and lactic acid bacteria. The importance of the bifidobacteria and the lactic acid bacteria (LABs) is that these groups of bacteria have several beneficial effects on the host, especially in terms of improving digestion (including enhancing mineral absorption) and the effectiveness and intrinsic strength of the immune system. A product that stimulates (or claims to stimulate) bifidobacteria is considered a bifidogenic factor. Some prebiotics may thus also act as a bifidogenic factor and vice versa, but the two concepts are not identical. [ [] Wageningen University]


Traditional dietary sources of prebiotics include soybeans, inulin sources (such as Jerusalem artichoke, jicama, and chicory root), raw oats, unrefined wheat, unrefined barley and yacon. Some of the oligosaccharides that naturally occur in breast milk are believed to play an important role in the development of a healthy immune system in infants, but these are not considered prebiotics, as they do not act through the intestinal microflora.

Prebiotic oligosaccharides are increasingly added to foods for their health benefits. Some oligosaccharides that are used in this manner are fructooligosaccharides (FOS), xylooligosaccharides (XOS), polydextrose and galactooligosaccharides (GOS). Some monosaccharides such as tagatose are also used sometimes as prebiotics.Fact|date=January 2008

In petfood also mannooligosaccharides are being used for prebiotic purposes.


Studies have demonstrated positive effects on calcium and other mineral absorption, immune system effectiveness, bowel pH, and intestinal regularity. Correlations have also been made with other positive health factors, but more research is required.

The immediate addition of substantial quantities of prebiotics to the diet may result in a temporary increase in gas, bloating or bowel movement. It has been argued that chronically low consumption of prebiotic-containing foods in the typical Western diet may exaggerate this effect.

ee also


External links

* [ Intelligent Nutrition]
* More reading on prebiotics: [ on prebiotics and bifidogenic factors]
* [ International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics]


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Probiotic — Probiotics are live microorganisms thought to be beneficial to 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 …   Wikipedia

  • Fructan — A fructan is a polymer of fructose molecules. They occur in foods such as: *Artichokes *Asparagus *Green beans *Leeks *Onions (including spring onion) *WheatIn animal fodder, fructans also appear in grass, with dietary implications for horses and …   Wikipedia

  • Lactobacillus casei — Taxobox color = lightgrey name = Lactobacillus casei regnum = Bacteria divisio = Firmicutes classis = Bacilli ordo = Lactobacillales familia = Lactobacillaceae genus = Lactobacillus species = L. casei binomial = Lactobacillus casei binomial… …   Wikipedia

  • Dietary fiber — Dietary fiber, dietary fibre, or sometimes roughage is the indigestible portion of plant foods having two main components: soluble (prebiotic, viscous) fiber that is readily fermented in the colon into gases and physiologically active byproducts …   Wikipedia

  • Resistant starch — (RS) is starch that escapes digestion in the small intestine of healthy individuals. [Asp NG. Resistant starch. Proceedings from the second plenary meeting of EURESTA: European FLAIR Concerted Action No. 11 on physiological implications of the… …   Wikipedia

  • Inulina — Nombre (IUPAC) sis …   Wikipedia Español

  • Inulin — Not to be confused with insulin. Inulin Identifiers CAS number …   Wikipedia

  • Mannatech — Inc. Type Public (NASDAQ: MTEX) Industry Wellness, Personal care, Multi level marketin …   Wikipedia

  • Dried fruit — Traditional dried fruit retain most of the nutritional benefits of fresh fruit, and gain others …   Wikipedia

  • Fructooligosaccharide — Fructooligosaccharides (FOS) also sometimes called oligofructose or oligofructan, are oligosaccharide fructans, used as an alternative sweetener. FOS exhibits sweetness levels between 30 and 50 percent of sugar in commercially prepared… …   Wikipedia