Gut flora, prebiotics, probiotics :essentials concepts

Wikipedia: ‘A prebiotic is a non-digestible ingredient that has beneficial health effects by selectively stimulating the growth or activity of a specific bacterium (or a small bacterial population) of the intestine. According to the WHO / FAO, a probiotic “is a living microorganism that, when ingested in sufficient quantity, produces beneficial effects on the health of the person who consumes it” (see also footnote *)

So to summarize :

-probiotic = a selection of microorganisms that will positively influence the proper balance of intestinal flora

– prebiotic = ‘food’ (non-digestible substrates) for these microorganisms.

Some important notions

  • We host about 1 kg of intestinal flora biomass in our intestine, which represents a number of microorganisms about 10 times greater than the number of cells in our body (100,000 billion!), Distributed among several hundred different types.
  • This flora has a considerable influence on two vital functions: digestive and immune, and it is its composition that will mainly determine its effectiveness.
  • The composition of the intestinal flora is relatively stable in the adult, but varies widely from one individual to another, particularly according to his diet. Diseases, antibiotic treatments, diets low in fruits and vegetables and fermented products (yogurt, kefir etc), age have a negative influence on the performance of the intestinal flora.
  • The principle of Probiotics: to provide a selection of ‘useful’ bacteria that will multiply in the intestine and improve the effectiveness of the flora in its main functions
  • Vegetarian diets are normally rich in prebiotics (insoluble fiber), which generally suffices to ensure a good balance of the flora, but in case of intestinal discomfort, or after a disease a cure of pro and pre biotic may be relevant . It is even more so for Seniors and low consumers of fruits and vegetables.

For probiotics to have a beneficial effect, several conditions must be met

  • Arrive alive (or lyophilized) in the intestine and in particular resist gastric acidity and bile; “To be effective on the intestinal flora”, it is necessary that the probiotics arrive alive in the colon and “in sufficient number”. They should therefore not be degraded as a result of their passage in the stomach and “must be able to withstand gastric acidity and pancreatic juices” reason why VEGAFLORE is packaged in resistant capsules
  • Be composed of strains selected for the desired effect (mainly from the genus Lactobacillus and Bifidum);
  • be used as a cure for at least 10 days a month;

* On a regulatory level, and despite the scientific results showing the importance of the intestinal flora on health it should be specified that in the EU, so far no probiotic has been accepted by EFSA in the Regulation1924 / 2006 governing the claims of food supplements.