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Gut health experts define ‘synbiotic’ supplements

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A panel of scientists has published a document that clarifies the definition of synbiotic products, which contain “friendly” bacteria and a substrate on which the bacteria feed. It also makes recommendations for establishing the products’ safety and efficacy. Supplements containing probiotics or prebiotics can help the “gut microbiota” A healthy community of gut bacteria helps protect against disease-causing microorganisms. The bacteria in our intestines or “ gut microbiota ” also play essential roles in digestion, immunity, and metabolism.

However, antibiotics, changes in diet, and infections can disrupt the gut microbiota, which may contribute to a wide range of illnesses, including inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and metabolic syndrome , which increases a person’s risk of developing heart disease and diabetes.

One way to restore a healthy balance of microorganisms in the gut is to take a supplement containing probiotics and prebiotics. Probiotics are live, beneficial bacteria, and prebiotics are indigestible substrates, such as fiber, on which “good” bacteria feed.

Researchers first proposed combining probiotics and prebiotics into a single product called a “synbiotic” 25 years ago .

“Synbiotics are starting to gain traction in the marketplace, but there’s a lot of confusion around the term, even among scientists,” says Kelly Swanson, a […]

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