News from CRIS: Probiotics & Prebiotics - Foods & Supplements

February 28, 2022

What are probiotics and prebiotics? 

Probiotics and prebiotics can be foods, ingredients, supplements, products, and more that contain or support microorganisms, most often beneficial that may impact our microbiome, impacting our overall health (1).

Typically, manufacturers design prebiotic and probiotic products to encourage beneficial bacterial growth that supports our microbiome.

What is the difference between a prebiotic and a probiotic?  

Prebiotics are food, ingredients, supplements, products, and more that support the wanted beneficial bacteria in our microbiome by providing an ideal nutritional source for the bacteria.
To support our gut microbiota, a prebiotic ingredient must (1,2):

  • not be easily digested (or only partially digested);
  • not be absorbed in the small intestine;
  • be poorly fermented by bacteria in our mouth;
  • be well fermented by seemingly beneficial intestinal bacteria;
  • be poorly fermented by potential pathogens in the bowel.

The above requirements are met in foods containing high dietary fiber levels, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and more (1,2).

Other prebiotic products designed to support microbiota on our skin have not undergone extensive studies to support their claims. However, there is limited evidence that prebiotic ingredients in skincare products may help support a healthy skin microbiota (1,2,3).

Probiotics are food, ingredients, supplements, products, and more that contain the wanted beneficial bacteria. 
To support our gut microbiota, as defined by regulatory agencies, a probiotic ingredient must be:

  • Safe, meaning the ingredient should contain beneficial bacteria that don’t cause adverse reactions in the gut.
  • Functional, meaning it needs to work as intended and be able to survive and thrive properly in the gut
  • Technologically useful, meaning manufacturers can easily replicate, store, and continue to use the ingredients ongoing. 

The above requirements are met in fermented foods and beverages, such as yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha tea, kefir, and more.

We can also find probiotics in skincare products such as lotions, deodorants, and more that manufacturers design to support our skin microbiota.

Probiotics in skincare is an emerging research area, so there are limited but promising studies showing their efficacy to help treat acne, atopic dermatitis, and other skin conditions (1,2).
As research in this area evolves, we’ll continue to update the article. 


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