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Published on January 22nd, 2013 | by ScientiFIT


FAQ’s on Probiotics, Prebiotics, and The Health of Your Gut

Did you know… [1]

  • The gastrointestinal (GI) tract is a highly complex environment
  • The GI contains more than 100 trillion bacteria which together make up most of the gut “microbiota” (i.e. ecosystem)
  • The average total number of bacterial species is estimated to be 1,000 per individual
  • The health of the GI tract can provide significant insight regarding the overall health of an individual

1) What are probiotics?
Probiotics are live microorganisms (i.e. bacteria), that if consumed at the appropriate amount, can have health benefits [2]

2) What is the health benefit of probiotics?

An growing body of research has emerged over the past few decades demonstrating the role of probiotics in improving digestive function, enhancing immune function, and reducing the risk of inflammatory bowel disorders [3, 4]

3)  Are probiotics safe? 

“Probiotics that contain Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, Streptococcus thermophilus, and Saccharomyces strains have an extensive safety record for use in the generally healthy population. Other types of probiotics (eg, Enterococcus, Escherichia coli, and Bacillus) should be considered for specific individuals.” [5]

4) What is a source of probiotics?

Yogurt and other dairy products are generally a good naturally derived source of probiotics

5) What are prebiotics?

Prebiotics are nondigestible food ingredients that maintain the growth and activity of some bacterial populations within the gut [6]

6) What is the health benefit of prebiotics?

Prebiotics have been shown to promote the colonic health by a variety of mechanisms, including increasing fecal weight, reducing the colonic pH, etc. [7]

7) Are prebiotics safe?

Considering that prebiotics are generally derived from a source of fiber, consumed in the appropriate amount, they are generally considered to be safe [8]

8) What is a good source of prebiotics?

Luna bar, Cliff bar, cereal, and in general, high fiber foods (for further reading on health benefits of fiber, click here; for fiberful recipes, click here)

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About the Author

ScientiFIT is a site that translates the most recent scientific findings in the fields of fitness and nutrition into a language that is easy to understand by all.

3 Responses to FAQ’s on Probiotics, Prebiotics, and The Health of Your Gut

  1. Kim says:

    Thank you for all the answers. I also have a question: I have a very small son – he is just 2 weeks old. He is suffering from stomach ache almost all the time. Our therapist prescribes to give him probiotics to ease up his stomach ache by increasing bacteria in his stomach (if I understand this all correctly). Is this really safe for him? I’m so worried, he is so young and I have to give him these pills right after the birth, won’t this be harmful? Please advise.

    • ScientiFIT says:

      Dear Kim,

      Thank you for your question. The best way to get advice on your question is to consult a physician (preferably, a pediatrician). We are only here to provide the scientific backdrop but prescriptions of any kind are very patient-specific and require the examination of the subject by a licensed physician. We do recommend, however, that if you are, in any way, worried about the use of probiotics for your son, you seek a second opinion from another physician. Also, make sure to ask your doctor as many questions as you can (i.e. What are all the ingredients of this pill? Have all of its ingredients been shown to be safe? Have scientific studies shown the safety of probiotics for infants? For how long do I need to give him the pills? etc.) Ask, ask, ask! That is the biggest advice we can give you. Don’t accept anything until you have asked as many questions as you can. Always be a skeptic until you are convinced!

      Best of luck and please feel free to contact us again if you have any further questions.

      ScientiFIT Staff

      • Kim says:


        Thank you very much for paying attention to my problem. Now I feel that I’m right when asking our doctor about everything (they look a bit nervous when hearing all these questions). I will certainly find another doctor to consult with as well, don’t know why I haven’t thought of this before.
        Anyways, thank you for everything. I hope everything is going to be fine with my baby.

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