Probiotics, Prebiotics and Synbiotics
Picture Credit: (C) Nutricia Research
You may already know that kefir, yogurt, kimchi, and kombucha are all packed with gut-healthy probiotics, while foods like green bananas, asparagus, and artichokes contain prebiotics for huumans! And for our fur kids, magical green tripe! In case your forgot what the differences are between prebiotics and probiotics, here’s a quick refresher: Probiotics are microorganisms that add good-for-you microbes to your gut and can help aid digestion. Prebiotics are non-digestible carbohydrates that feed that good bacteria in your gut.
But what about synbiotics? Synbiotics and other functional foods are now being considered important tools to help maintaining huumans and pets in good health, for prevention of disease, and / or as alternatives for reducing the risk associated with diseases. Studies conducted on the relationship of the microbiota of huuman gut and fur kids gut and immunology have highlighted the role of synbiotics in the health of mammals. There is evidence to suggest that synbiotics influence the microbial ecology of the intestines of huumans and pets and play a role in alleviating various ailments. The majority of studies dealing with synbiotics are conducted in huumans 1, but increasing research has been focused on animals2 . Improvement in the number of beneficial bacteria and the reduction of the potential pathogen load has been demonstrated following administration of synbiotics in farm animals. Despite the fact that the understanding of the effects of synbiotics has increased, important information relating to their impact on the host is so far incomplete. Potential combinations of most appropriate probiotics and prebiotics may reduce the risk associated with intestinal diseases and eliminate specific microbial disorders.
In simple terms, the idea behind synbiotics is that adding prebiotics to a probiotic supplement can help ensure that the digestion-friendly microorganisms arrive in the gut alive and well. These supplements are said to be particularly useful for huumans and pets with conditions like IBS, other bowel disorders, and diabetes. Synbiotics may deliver a greater impact than if you were to take prebiotics and probiotics separately. The health benefits imparted by probiotics and prebiotics as well as synbiotics have been the subject of extensive research in the past few decades, and topic of hot debate. What is the real role of probiotics strains, prebiotics and synbiotics in influencing a health? To battle the increase in health care costs, in recent years has been developed a preventive approach to medicine with the development of new probiotics and prebiotics or symbiotic products. Many studies suggest that probiotics, prebiotics and synbiotics supplementation may be beneficial in prevention and management of nutritional and health. While these studies show promising beneficial effects, the long-term risks or health benefits of prebiotics, probiotics and synbiotics supplementation are not clear.
Nicoleta-Maricica Maftei published an in-depth paper on this topic reviewing the literature regarding available information and summarises the current knowledge on the effects of probiotics, prebiotics, and synbiotics on human health and explore recent trends and developments in this field that is worth reading 3.
Not unlike probiotics, the key to synbiotics lies in the types of strains used and the dosages. It’s essential that both the probiotic and prebiotic microbial strains get along with each other and can function synergistically. Some of the most common synbiotic combinations include the probiotic strains of Bifidobacterium longum, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus acidophilus, and Saccharomyces boulardii with prebiotics like fructooligosaccharides (FOS), galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS), inulins and resistant starch for huumans.
Scientific studies have shown that specific synbiotic formulations can improve the symptoms of diarrhoea, irritable bowel syndrome, and other problems affecting the gastrointestinal tract4 . We can safely assume that this will also be the case for our fur kids.
- Probiotics and prebiotics benefit your body by keeping your immune system in working order, keeping your moods level, and keep the lining of your gut sealed tight.
- When your gut bacteria misbehave, it makes you tired, inflamed, and weak.
- Probiotics are the organisms in your digestive tract that benefit you.
- Prebiotics feed those organisms so they can flourish and take the place of harmful strains.
- Synbiotics combine probiotics and prebiotics to magnify the beneficial effects of friendly microorganisms and help them thrive, so they can in turn make nutrients and protective compounds that help you thrive.
Why is this important for longevity?
You have close to 100 trillion cells living in your digestive system, which form your gut microbiome. Our (huumans, mutts, pups, nobles and masters) digestive tract houses a diverse variety of bacteria, yeasts and viruses that benefit you when in balance, or cause inflammation and disease when a few strains are allowed to take over (like a typical yeast infection).
To keep you running on all cylinders, your gut microbiome has to have the right bacteria and fungi in the right amounts. The right microorganisms keep your immune system in working order and keep the lining of your gut sealed tight.
The wrong ones weaken your immune system and damage your membranes, which can lead to autoimmune reactions to undigested foods. Since a large portion of your neurotransmitters are made in the gut, these imbalances can also affect your mood and personality.
When your gut bacteria misbehave, it makes you tired, inflamed, and weak. In fact, an imbalanced gut is linked to conditions as diverse as diabetes, obesity, depression, eczema, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Ok, so what now?
Simple. For your mutts, pups, nobles and masters, ensure that your mix up your meal plan to include both pre- and probiotic food and supplements. If you do not want to food tripe, make sure you add some kefir or liquid probiotics to the meal, and vice versa. It is all about ensuring that the pre- and probiotic items works together to help manage or fix the gut, instead of relying on them to do this individually. Snap! It’s like having fermented veggies with your freshly prepared asparagus!
Articles and Videos
- Synbiotics: Safety and Toxicity Considerations, Chapter 57, Nutraceuticals Efficacy, Safety and Toxicity (ScienceDirect);
- Treatment of Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Ulcerative Colitis, Chapter 37, The Microbiota in Gastrointestinal Pathophysiology (ScienceDirect);
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Chapter 50, Integrative Medicine (Fourth Edition) (ScienceDirect);
- The Role of Prebiotics in Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Chapter 12, Dietary Interventions in Gastrointestinal Diseases (ScienceDirect);
- Allergic and Immunologic Disorders, Chapter 32, The Microbiota in Gastrointestinal Pathophysiology (ScienceDirect);
- Immunoassay Applications in Veterinary Diagnostics, Chapter 8.1, The Immunoassay Handbook (Fourth Edition) (ScienceDirect);
- Probiotics, Prebiotics, and Synbiotics. What Are They and When Should They Be Implemented? (WSAVA Congress Proceeding);
Pet’s Probiotics and Intestinal Health
The Overuse of Antibiotics in Veterinary Applications
Dr. Becker Interviews Roxanne Stone About Fermented Foods for Dogs
References and Research
- 1.Markowiak P, Śliżewska K. Effects of Probiotics, Prebiotics, and Synbiotics on Human Health. Nutrients. 2017;9(9). doi:10.3390/nu9091021
- 2.Pinna C, Biagi G. The Utilisation of Prebiotics and Synbiotics in Dogs. Italian Journal of Animal Science. January 2014:3107. doi:10.4081/ijas.2014.3107
- 3.Maftei N-M. Probiotic, Prebiotic and Synbiotic Products in Human Health. In: Frontiers and New Trends in the Science of Fermented Food and Beverages. IntechOpen; 2019. doi:10.5772/intechopen.81553
- 4.Vyas U, Ranganathan N. Probiotics, prebiotics, and synbiotics: gut and beyond. Gastroenterol Res Pract. 2012;2012:872716. doi:10.1155/2012/872716