• Prebiotics are non-digestible food ingredients that beneficially affect the host by selectively stimulating the growth and activity of the micro-flora.
  • They were first identified and named by Marcel Roberfroid in 1995.
  • Prebiotics are heat resistant, which keep them intact during the baking process and allow them to be incorporated into every day food.
  • By consuming a non-digestible ingredient, it allows for growth of biocultures by reaching the intestine unaffected by the digestion process.
  • This can provide good digestive health. The positive effects prebiotics have by reaching the intestine in an unaltered form is known as the prebiotic effect.

Prebiotic Effect

  • A prebiotic effect occurs when there is an increase in the activity of beneficial bacteria in the human intestine.
  • The prebiotics stimulate the growth of bacteria such as Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli in the gut and increase resistance to invading pathogens.
  • This effect is induced by consuming functional foods that contain prebiotics. These foods induces metabolic activity, leading to health improvements.
  • Beneficial bacteria in the intestine can combat unwanted bacteria, providing a number of health benefits.

Prebiotics Food Sources

  • Prebiotics are natural food ingredients that are available in a variety of food sources.
  • The most common type of prebiotic is from the soluble dietary fiber inulin. Inulin is common in many plants containing fructan.
  • Many of these plants are frequently eaten as vegetables – asparagus, garlic, leek (related to onion; white cylindrical bulb and flat dark green leave), onion, artichoke, Bananas, barley, wheat, rye, and chicory root  and are an excellent source of inulin.
  • As the need for functional foods rises, prebiotics are being added to many every day food choices such as cereals, biscuits, breads, table spreads, drinks, and yogurts.
    • FOS (fructooligosaccharides)
    • Inulin
    • GOS (galacto-oligosaccharides)

Prebiotic Mechanisms

Mechanisms by which prebiotics modulate the immune system.

  • Increases the amount of lactic acid producing bacteria
  • Increases the amount of Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFAs)
  • Activates carbohydrate receptor immune cells

Regulation of Prebiotics

  • Biological products require premarket review and approval by the FDA; however, dietary supplements do not.
  • The safety, purity, and potency, as well as efficacy, of a biological product must be demonstrated for approval.
  • Dietary supplements are not required to demonstrate any of these properties to be marketed.
  • The FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) regulates probiotics and prebiotics marketed as dietary supplements or food ingredients.



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