Zeitschrift für Lebensmittelmikrobiologie


Potential Health Benefits of Probiotics, Prebiotics and Synbiotics: A Review

Suman Upadhyaya

The concept of probiotics is the colonization of beneficial bacteria in the intestinal tract, promoting efficient functioning of digestion, helping prevent digestive upsets, and stimulating and maintaining the natural immunity of the body. Probiotic bacteria are normal inhabitants of the intestines and are normally found in the healthy gut of all humans. Probiotics have been in use for as long as people have consumed fermented milks, but their association with health benefits dates only from the turn of the century when Metchnikoff drew attention to the adverse effects of the gut microflora on the host and suggested that ingestion of fermented milks ameliorated this so-called auto-intoxication. The use of the term 'probiotic' to describe food supplements specifically designed to improve health, dates from 1974 when Parker used it to describe growth- promoting animal feed supplements. He defined the term as 'organisms and substance which contribute to intestinal microbial balance. Supplementation with probiotics, prebiotics and synbiotics has shown promising results against various enteric pathogens due to their ability to compete with pathogenic microbiota for adhesion sites, to alienate pathogens or to stimulate, modulate and regulate the host's immune response. Hence, this review aims to study the beneficial impact of probiotics, prebiotics and synbiotics.