What is the difference between probiotics and prebiotics?


Probiotics are living microorganisms which, if they are prescribed in sufficient quantity, render positive effect on human organism.

Probiotics may increase in comparatively short time quantity of beneficial bacteria in the intestine, which is important, for example, after course of antibiotics. But the effect doesn’t stay long for strange microorganisms die quickly in the organism.

Experiments show that integration of bacteria leads to change of the microflora composition for a short period of time, then the primary composition restores soon. It’s necessary to mention that some compositions of probiotics affected negatively on health. Any immune system reaction to strange microorganisms in prebiotics may have both positive and negative effects. So, probiotics have advantages as well as disadvantages. That’s why it is very important to consult doctor before take them.

As living organisms, probiotics:

  • Not always survive in the intestine;
  • Are exposed to negative influence of antibiotics;
  • Don’t live long in the organism (approximately 5-7 days), then the human micro flora force them out of organism;
  • May render resistance to antibiotics to the strains of the human microflora.
Prebiotics are food components which don’t digest and don’t soak into upper segments of digestive tract but are fermented by beneficial micro flora of the human colon stimulating its growth and activity.

Prebiotics can render more influence on microflora than probiotics beacuse:

  • Cannot be destroyed in digestive tract and are not exposed to negative influence of antibiotics and acidic conditions of the stomach;
  • Stimulate growth and evolution of own strains of various human beneficial bacteria;
  • Don’t cause secondary immune response of organism for they don’t contain non-self genes;
  • Don’t bear genes of resistance toantibiotics.

R. Walker, M. Buckley.Probiotic microbes: the scientific basis.A report from the American Academy of Microbiology, 2006.


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