Large number of micro-organisms live on various sections of human body (skin, mouth and gastrointestinal tracts) that are exposed to the outside environment. These are known as commensal microbes have associated with humans. They are greatly interdependent with them.
The highest concentration of commensal organisms believed to be in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract that has above 400m2 surface area (this makes up the second largest surface area of the body). The GI tract can harbour high extent of flora (>500 various bacterial species) among which some are beneficial, e.g. stimulating and supporting the host from invading bacteria and viruses and assisting digestion.
A research about germ free animals has implied that microbial colonization has essential (health) roles for humans. However microbes may occasionally develop a pathogenic relationship with a host that can result in occurring disease or even death of the host.
Microbial metabolites may have mutagenic or carcinogenic activity. As a result cancer can develop during the long period of exposure, Therefore understanding the influence of colonizing microbes in addition to learning desired factors to encourage the positive and inhibit the negative activities of commensal attacking microbes.
The probiotic abstraction has been an important issue. They are known as live micro-organisms involving a health influence on the host when consumed in adequate amount (Guarner and Schaafsma 1998). In other words, Probiotics are the foods for the beneficial bacteria. They can be added to the diet to help the beneficial bacteria grow and survive the digestive mechanism.
Prebiotics are known as nondigestible food ingredients that can beneficially influence the host byselectively stimulating the growth or /and activity of a certain number of bacteria in the colon. In fact, they are the food for the friendly bacteria. They may be added to the diet to provide the situation for effective bacteria to grow and survive in the digestive mechanism.
Probiotics aim to generate a useful effect on the host by administration of live micro-organisms such as those in traditional yoghurt and other fermented foods or in powders, tablets, liquid suspensions and lyophilised in capsules.
Probiotics have the ability to inhibit intestinal bacterial enzymes involved in the synthesis of colonic carcinogens. They have proved to be effective on modulation of immune function, humoral, cellular and non-specific immunity.
Some advantages of probiotics over conventional therapy can include virtually low cost, and the fact that probiotics are not expected to increase the incidence of antibiotic resistance and the mechanisms in which probiotics may suppress pathogens, so reducing the extent of resistance against the probiotic.
Prebiotics may be more efficient than probiotics in obtaining colonic bacterial adaptation and also affecting lactose intolerance. However, both probiotics and prebiotics may finally have beneficial effects on colonic disease.
Prebiotic foods generally have certain absorption, fibre contribution, gut integrity, immune function and cholesterol control. Some prebiotics are consumed for the treatment of constipation and hepatic encephalopathy.
Prebiotics can protect against some intestinal pathogens and may be helpful in some inflammatory bowel disease. They can have some anticarcinogenic influences.
The market trends and biological potential of both probiotics and prebiotics are considerable. The growing demands of natural alternatives over conventional medicine are expected to improve the prebiotic market.
Americans are constantly recognising that their low-fibre diet could be the main cause for the growing occurrence of obesity, diabetes mellitus, and coronary vascular diseases.
While there is a greater awareness that gut health translates to overall health, most Americans are unaware of the potential benefits offered by prebiotics.