[Pre- and probiotics]

Ther Umsch. 2007 Mar;64(3):161-9. doi: 10.1024/0040-5930.64.3.161.
[Article in German]


Nowadays, the regular consumption of pre- and probiotics is recommended to provide various positive health benefits. The in vitro and in vivo demonstrated actions on the intestinal microflora, the mucosal barrier and the immunological system are very interesting to propose beneficial health effects, but the scientific proof in humans is not demonstrated yet. Pre- and probiotics are very active in the intestinal tract (mainly in the colon) by maintaining a healthy gut microflora and influencing metabolic, trophic and protective mechanism. Prebiotics stimulates the growth of apathogen bacteria and increase the short chain fatty acid concentration by fermentation. Short chain fatty acids are necessary substrates for a healthy gut. Probiotics inhibit the growth of pathogen bacteria, reduce the translocation of bacteria and toxins and modulate the intestinal immune system. For some specific clinical diseases (ulcerative colitis, pouchitis, diarrhoea) a therapeutic and prophylactic effect with pre- and probiotics was shown. In the near future more indications for pre- and probiotics (used as a single strain or as in a combination) will be added. Promising results are already shown in irritable bowel syndrome, prevention of antibiotic induced diarrhoea, in surgical and in intensive care patients. Future studies should focus to determine the characteristics of a healthy gut and the evaluation of specific health benefits by well-designed, controlled human studies of adequate duration.

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diet Therapy / methods*
  • Food, Fortified*
  • Food, Organic*
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Diseases / diet therapy*
  • Intestinal Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Probiotics / therapeutic use*