Prebiotics and Synbiotics: Dietary Strategies for Improving Gut Health

Janina A. Krumbeck; Maria X. Maldonado-Gomez; Amanda E. Ramer-Tait; Robert W. Hutkins


Curr Opin Gastroenterol. 2016;32(2):110-119. 

In This Article


More than a century ago, Nobel laureate, Ilya Metchnikoff wrote 'The dependence of the intestinal microbes on the food makes it possible to adopt measures to modify the flora in our bodies and to replace the harmful microbes by useful microbes'.[92] Noting the experimental challenges implied by this goal, Metchnikoff added that 'Notwithstanding this difficulty, however, a rational solution of the problem must be sought.' These experimental difficulties no longer exist, and the ability to modulate the gastrointestinal microbiota by prebiotic fibers and rational synbiotics is now possible. Current efforts to relate shifts in the microbiota, and specific taxa, in particular, to health and disease or to affect a clinically proven health benefit, may well lead to well tolerated and effective therapies for improving human health. In particular, formulation of synergistic synbiotics containing strains having established health benefits may provide opportunities for personalized treatments.