Fibre and effects on probiotics (the prebiotic concept)
Gibson, G.R. (2004) Fibre and effects on probiotics (the prebiotic concept). Clinical Nutrition Supplements, 1 (2). pp. 25-31. ISSN 0261-5614
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1016/j.clnu.2004.09.005
The burden (economic and medicinal) of acute and chronic gut disorders continues to increase. As efficient therapies are few, attention has turned towards the use of so-called functional foods to mediate against gut disorder. These target particular genera of gut bacteria seen as beneficial, e.g. bifidobacteria, lactobacilli. The use of products containing live microbial species (probiotics) has a long history of use in humans and many trials have been reported as 'positive'. Taking the view that positive components of the gut flora already exist in the intestinal tract, the prebiotic concept has been developed. Here, dietary carbohydrates have a selective metabolism within the gut flora thereby shifting the community towards a more advantageous structure. Conventional fibres like pectins, cellulose, etc. are not selectively metabolised by gut bacteria. However, certain oligosaccharides do have this capability. Most research has been conducted with fructooligosaccharides, like inulin, which have a powerful bifidogenic effect. Trials are ongoing to determine the clinical benefits of prebiotic use. Intestinal disorders like ulcerative colitis, gastroenteritis and irritable bowel syndrome are particular targets. (c) 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.