Prebiotics are non-digestible food ingredients that have a specific stimulatory effect upon selected populations of gut bacteria. The usual target microorganisms for prebiotic approaches are bifidobacteria. Numerous human feeding studies have shown the prebiotic influences that galactans and fructans can exert. Other candidate prebiotics are under investigation. The field is now moving towards identifying the health aspect associated with their use. Many avenues of gut related health are being researched, including reduction of diarrhoea, immune stimulation, and improved mineral bioavailability. Most current emphasis appears to be towards various parameters associated with metabolic syndrome. These include markers of insulin resistance, appetite, satiety, blood lipids and inflammatory status.
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