Scientific evidence for health effects attributed to the consumption of probiotics and prebiotics: an update for current perspectives and future challenges

Br J Nutr. 2015 Dec 28;114(12):1993-2015. doi: 10.1017/S0007114515003864. Epub 2015 Oct 7.


Probiotics and prebiotics, mainly commercialised as food ingredients and also as supplements, are considered highly profitable niche markets. However, in recent years, the food industry has suffered from a series of health claim restrictions on probiotics and prebiotics in many parts of the world, including those made by the European Food Safety Authority. Therefore, we reviewed the core benefits of probiotic and prebiotic consumption on health. A number of studies have examined the prevention and/or management of intestinal infections, respiratory tract infections, CVD, osteoporosis, urogenital infections, cavities, periodontal disease and halitosis, allergic reactions, inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome and Helicobacter pylori gastric infections. In fact, a deeper understanding of the mechanisms involved in human microbiota and immune system modulation by probiotics and prebiotics relies on continuous efforts to establish suitable biomarkers of health and diseases risk factors for the design of clinical trials required for health claim approval. In spite of the promising results, the performance of large, long-term, well-planned, well-aligned clinical studies is crucial to provide more reliability and a more solid basis for the outcomes achieved and to support the potential use of probiotics and prebiotics in clinical practice.

Keywords: Bifidobacterium; CD Crohn’s disease; CDAD Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhoea; CFU colony-forming units; FOS fructo-oligosaccharides; GIT gastrointestinal tract; GOS galacto-oligosaccharides; Health effects; IBD inflammatory bowel diseases; IBS irritable bowel syndrome; Inulin; LAB lactic acid bacteria; Lactobacillus; Prebiotics; Probiotics; RS resistant starch; UC ulcerative colitis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Europe
  • Food Safety
  • Humans
  • Immune System / physiology
  • Microbiota
  • Prebiotics*
  • Preventive Medicine
  • Probiotics*


  • Prebiotics