Prebiotics are nondigestible carbohydrates that act as food for probiotics. When probiotics and prebiotics are combined, they form a synbiotic. Fermented dairy products, such as yogurt and kefir, are considered synbiotic because they contain live bacteria and the fuel they need to thrive.
Probiotics and prebiotics are two food ingredients that have physiologic effects through the gastrointestinal tract. Probiotics have been defined as live microorganisms that (when ingested) have a beneficial effect in the prevention and treatment of specific medical conditions. These microorganisms are believed to exert biological effects through a phenomenon known as colonization resistance, whereby the indigenous anaerobic flora limits the concentration of potentially harmful (mostly aerobic) germs in the digestive tract. Other modes of action, such as supplying enzymes or influencing enzyme activity in the gastrointestinal tract, may also account for some of the other functions.
Side effects are rare, and most healthy adults can safely add foods that contain prebiotics and probiotics to their diet.Indications:
Although more research is needed, there's encouraging evidence that probiotics may help:
- Prevent and treat vaginal yeast infections and urinary tract infections
- Treat irritable bowel syndrome
- Reduce bladder cancer recurrence
- Speed treatment of certain intestinal infections
- Prevent and treat eczema in children
- Prevent or reduce the severity of colds and flu