Beneficial Effects of Probiotics and Prebiotics
by Fereshteh Safarzadeh Markhali
makes up the second largest surface area of the body). The GI tract can harbour
high extent of flora (>500 various bacterial species) among which some are
beneficial, e.g. stimulating and supporting the host from invading bacteria and viruses
and assisting digestion.
A research about germ free animals has implied that microbial colonization has
essential (health) roles for humans. However microbes may occasionally develop a
pathogenic relationship with a host that can result in occurring disease or even death
of the host.
Microbial metabolites may have mutagenic or carcinogenic activity. As a result cancer
can develop during the long period of exposure, Therefore understanding the
influence of colonizing microbes in addition to learning desired factors to encourage
the positive and inhibit the negative activities of commensal attacking microbes.
The probiotic abstraction has been an important issue. They are known as live
micro-organisms involving a health influence on the host when consumed in
adequate amount (Guarner and Schaafsma 1998). In other words, Probiotics are the
foods for the beneficial bacteria. They can be added to the diet to help the beneficial
bacteria grow and survive the digestive mechanism.
Prebiotics are known as nondigestible food ingredients that can beneficially influence
the host byselectively stimulating the growth or /and activity of a certain number of
bacteria in the colon. In fact, they are the food for the friendly bacteria. They may be
added to the diet to provide the situation for effective bacteria to grow and survive in
the digestive mechanism.
Probiotics aim to generate a useful effect on the host by administration of live
micro-organisms such as those in traditional yoghurt and other fermented foods or in
powders, tablets, liquid suspensions and lyophilised in capsules.
Probiotics have the ability to inhibit intestinal bacterial enzymes involved in the
synthesis of colonic carcinogens. They have proved to be effective on modulation of
immune function, humoral, cellular and non-specific immunity.
Some advantages of probiotics over conventional therapy can include virtually low
cost, and the fact that probiotics are not expected to increase the incidence of
antibiotic resistance and the mechanisms in which probiotics may suppress
pathogens, so reducing the extent of resistance against the probiotic.
Prebiotics may be more efficient than probiotics in obtaining colonic bacterial
adaptation and also affecting lactose intolerance. However, both probiotics and
prebiotics may finally have beneficial effects on colonic disease.
Prebiotic foods generally have certain absorption, fibre contribution, gut integrity,
immune function and cholesterol control. Some prebiotics are consumed for the
treatment of constipation and hepatic encephalopathy.
Prebiotics can protect against some intestinal pathogens and may be helpful in some
inflammatory bowel disease. They can have some anticarcinogenic influences.
The market trends and biological potential of both probiotics and prebiotics are
considerable. The growing demands of natural alternatives over conventional
medicine are expected to improve the prebiotic market.
Americans are constantly recognising that their low-fibre diet could be the main cause
for the growing occurrence of obesity, diabetes mellitus, and coronary vascular
While there is a greater awareness that gut health translates to overall health, most
Americans are unaware of the potential benefits offered by prebiotics.
About The Author
Fereshteh Safarzadeh Markhali
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Large number of micro-organisms
live on various sections of human
body (skin, mouth and
gastrointestinal tracts) that are
exposed to the outside environment.
These are known as commensal
microbes have associated with
humans. They are greatly
interdependent with them.
The highest concentration of
commensal organisms believed to be
in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract that
has above 400m2 surface area (this
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