Immune boosting functional foods and their mechanisms: A critical evaluation of probiotics and prebiotics

Biomed Pharmacother. 2020 Oct:130:110625. doi: 10.1016/j.biopha.2020.110625. Epub 2020 Aug 11.


Comprehensive studies conducted on the link between the gut microbiome and immunity in recent decades have correspondingly led to ever increasing interests in functional foods, especially probiotics and prebiotics. Probiotics and prebiotics play crucial roles in managing the intestinal microbiota in order to improve host health, even though their influence on other body sites are being investigated. Different colonic bacteria metabolize dietary prebiotics to produce beneficial metabolites, especially short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) that improve luminal contents and intestinal performance, while positively affecting overall host physiology. Thus, this review provides a general perspective of the immune system, the gut immune system and its microbiota. The review also evaluates functional foods with critical but comprehensive perspectives into probiotics and prebiotics, their immune boosting and mechanisms of action. It is recommended that further mechanistic and translational studies are conducted to promote health, social life and also empower poverty-stricken communities.

Keywords: Functional foods; Microbiota; Prebiotics; Probiotics; Short chain fatty acids.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adjuvants, Immunologic*
  • Animals
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Functional Food*
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / immunology
  • Humans
  • Prebiotics*
  • Probiotics*


  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Prebiotics