Probiotics and Prebiotics


  • The term probiotics are derived from Greek.
  • Literally means “for life”.
  • Firstly, observed by Lilly and Stillwell in 1965.
  • Currently defined by WHO and FAO
  • “live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit to the host.
  • Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) and Bifidobacteria are the most common types of microbes used as probiotics but certain yeasts and bacilli may also be used.


  • They are microbial organisms.
  • probiotics remain viable and stable after culture manipulation and storage before consumption.
  • They survive gastric and pancreatic digestion.
  • Able to adhere to the mucosal surface.
  • Able to induce host response once they enter the intestinal microbial ecosystem and they yield functional and clinical benefits to the host when consumed.
  • They should colonize.
  • They should colonize the intestine.
  • Able to utilize the passage through the digestive system.
  • Nonpathogenic and non-toxic.
  • Capable of exerting a beneficial effect on the host.


  • Although not well documented, some mechanisms probiotic action includes.
  • Competition for adhesion sites with pathogens in which:
  • Adhere to the epithelium and act “colonization barriers” by preventing the pathogen from adhering to the mucosa.
  • Synthesis of antimicrobial compounds:
  • Produce bacteriocin and other antimicrobial compounds such as hydrogen peroxide, diacetyl, and short-chain fatty acids.
  • Stimulate the immune response:
  • Increase the secretion of IgA, enhance the phagocytic activity of macrophages, enhance lymphocyte cytokines response.
  • Probiotics may also compete for nutrients that would otherwise be utilized by pathogens:
  • Probiotics utilize the monosaccharides, which results in the inhibition of Clostridium difficile.
  • Promote excretion of toxic substances such as bile acids, nitrosamines, and mutagenic compounds.


  • There are two main forms in which probiotic organisms can be ingested:
  • Fermented foods:
  • dairy e.g. yogurt
  • vegetable origin e.g. Sauer kraut
  • probiotic supplements;
  • freeze-dried bacteria in powder, capsule, or tablet form

Probiotics and Prebiotics

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  • Firstly, observed by Gibson and Roberfroid, who define a prebiotic as
  • “a non-digestible food ingredient that confers beneficial effects in the host by selectively stimulating the growth or activity of one or a limited number of bacteria in the colon and thus improves host health and well-being”.

Prebiotics are essentially fiber from plants (fruits, vegetables or whole grains).

  • Prebiotics transit through the stomach and small intestines undigested.
  • They make their way to intact to the colon, where they will be bacterially fermented together with the unabsorbed nutrients.
  • Lactobacilli and Bifidobacterium more likely to benefit from prebiotics.

Examples of prebiotics

  • Fructooligosaccharides (such as inulin and its derivatives).
  • Other oligosaccharides such as raffinose, stachyose, and verbascose.
  • Polysaccharides (such as cellulose, hemicellulose, pectin)
  • Soybeans oligosaccharides, etc.


The most recognized beneficial effects of prebiotics are:

  • Reduce blood glucose.
  • reducing energy intake (which results in weight management especially in combination with probiotics.
  • having positive effects on the immune system (e.g., less risk for allergy in both infants and adults especially in combination with probiotics).
  • Enhancing the feeling of satiety.
  • Providing energy-yielding metabolites through colonic fermentation.
  • Improving laxation or regularity by increasing stool bulk.


  • Most human mucosal surfaces colonized by bacteria.
  • Colonization of the gut with healthy normal microflora begins immediately after birth increasing through infanthood.
  • At birth, the gut is sterile, but it is rapidly colonized by bacteria from the mother’s birth canal and the environment.
  • Some bacteria are got from breast milk during breastfeeding.
  • With the introduction of solid foods, microflora becomes more complex and resembles that of adults by the second year of life.
  • The density of colonization increases from the stomach to that distal colon.


  • Probiotics have a wide range of beneficial effects and numerous indications.
  • Acute diarrhea
  • Antibiotic associated diarrhea
  • Allergy prevention


  • Probiotics reduce 57% diarrheal diseases especially acute infection diarrhea.
  • Antibiotic-associated diarrhea is an acute inflammation of the intestine mucosa by the administration of a broad spectrum of antibiotics.
  • Several probiotic bacteria reduce risk from 28.5% to 11.9%.
  • Nosocomial diarrhea is reduced by B. bifidum, S. thermophiles.


  • Lactobacillus normally inhabit the vagina.
  • Lactobacilli bacteria produce H2O2 which keeps the healthy balance of virginal microorganism.
  • H2O2 interacts with peroxidase present in vaginal fluid.
  • Disruption in microflora balance in vagina results in disease.
  • Probiotics cure and reduce the reoccurrence of the vaginal disease.
  • It can be administrated orally or vaginally.


  • It is a disease in which the body cannot regulate the amount of sugar in the blood.
  • Diabetes is increasing alarmingly; it is estimated that 342 million people will be suffering from it by 2030.
  • Prebiotics (insulin) controls the glycemic index by reducing the absorption rate of glucose.




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Probiotics and Prebiotics

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