Probiotics and prebiotics: prospects for public health and nutritional recommendations

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2014 Feb:1309:19-29. doi: 10.1111/nyas.12377.


Probiotics and prebiotics are useful interventions for improving human health through direct or indirect effects on the colonizing microbiota. However, translation of these research findings into nutritional recommendations and public health policy endorsements has not been achieved in a manner consistent with the strength of the evidence. More progress has been made with clinical recommendations. Conclusions include that beneficial cultures, including probiotics and live cultures in fermented foods, can contribute towards the health of the general population; prebiotics, in part due to their function as a special type of soluble fiber, can contribute to the health of the general population; and a number of challenges must be addressed in order to fully realize probiotic and prebiotic benefits, including the need for greater awareness of the accumulated evidence on probiotics and prebiotics among policy makers, strategies to cope with regulatory roadblocks to research, and high-quality human trials that address outstanding research questions in the field.

Keywords: dietary guidelines; healthy diet; prebiotics; probiotics; public health policy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Expert Testimony
  • Food, Organic / standards*
  • Humans
  • Nutrition Policy*
  • Nutritional Requirements
  • Prebiotics* / standards
  • Probiotics* / standards
  • Public Health / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Public Health / standards*


  • Prebiotics