Using probiotics and prebiotics to improve gut health

Drug Discov Today. 2003 Aug 1;8(15):692-700. doi: 10.1016/s1359-6446(03)02746-6.


Recent molecular-based investigations have confirmed the species diversity and metabolic complexity of the human gut microbiota. It is also increasingly clear that the human gut microbiota plays a crucial role in host health, both as a source of infection and environmental insult and, conversely, in protection against disease and maintenance of gut function. Although little is known about the health impact of the dominant groups of gut bacteria it is generally accepted that bifidobacteria and lactobacilli are important components of what might be termed the beneficial gut microbiota. The microbiota management tools of probiotics, prebiotics and synbiotics have been developed and, indeed, commercialized over the past few decades with the expressed purpose of increasing numbers of bifidobacteria and/or lactobacilli within the gastrointestinal tract.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Digestive System / drug effects*
  • Digestive System Physiological Phenomena
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Probiotics / pharmacology
  • Probiotics / therapeutic use*