Prebiotics are a group of nutrients that are degraded by gut microbiota. Their relationship with human overall health has been an area of increasing interest in recent years. They can feed the intestinal microbiota, and their degradation products are short-chain fatty acids that are released into blood circulation, consequently, affecting not only the gastrointestinal tracts but also other distant organs. Fructo-oligosaccharides and galacto-oligosaccharides are the two important groups of prebiotics with beneficial effects on human health. Since low quantities of fructo-oligosaccharides and galacto-oligosaccharides naturally exist in foods, scientists are attempting to produce prebiotics on an industrial scale. Considering the health benefits of prebiotics and their safety, as well as their production and storage advantages compared to probiotics, they seem to be fascinating candidates for promoting human health condition as a replacement or in association with probiotics. This review discusses different aspects of prebiotics, including their crucial role in human well-being.
Keywords: fructo-oligosaccharides; galacto-oligosaccharides; gut microbiota; prebiotics; short-chain fatty acids.