Main Content

Prebiotics, probiotics and fantastic


Have you ever been recommended to take probiotics when you go overseas? Would you think of probiotics when you can’t poo? 

Do you actually know how to get probiotics and what it is? Apart from probiotics, you may have also heard of prebiotics.

The following passage serves to help you understand what they are and how you can benefit from them.


Probiotics is originally derived from a Greek word “for life”. It is first used in 1965. According to FAO/WHO, the most recent definition of probiotics is “live micro-organisms or the “good bacteria” in your gut.

Many different types of bacteria are considered as probiotics. The most common probiotics for commercial use are Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria. They are found in yogurt and fermented foods. Probiotics occur naturally from food fermentation in the large intestine and work to improve intestinal health by fighting with the “bad bacteria”.

To keep this simple – We need the right balance of good bacteria and bad bad bacteria. Probiotics can be obtained from natural food synthesis or food supplements.


Some may neglect the importance of prebiotics. Prebiotic is a non-digestible part of foods like bananas, onions and garlic, the skin of apples, beans, and many others. Prebiotic fiber goes through the small intestine undigested and is fermented when it reaches the large colon. This fermentation process feeds beneficial bacteria colonie including probiotic bacteria and helps to increase the number of desirable bacteria in our gut that are associated with better health and reduced disease risk.

The relationship between prebiotics and probiotics 

To avoid using scientific jargons, we are going to use a metaphor to help you understand what prebiotics and probiotics are: To start a garden with flourishing flowers and vibrant plants, we need seeds – PRObiotic bacteria. To raise the plants, we also need water and fertilizers – PREbiotic fiber, which provides nutrients to the soil. A blossoming garden is comparable to a healthy body.

Health benefits

Do you know that the benefits of prebiotics and probiotics go way beyond helping you poo?

Prebiotics and probiotics are associated with certain health benefits, for example:

– Maintaining gut function, including the gut transit time. 
– Improving tolerance to antibiotics
– Increasing calcium absorption and improving bone density
– Regulating the immune system by reducing inflammation
– Improving gut homeostasis (eg. reducing chronic intestinal inflammation) 
– Improving markers of glucose homeostasis and lipid metabolism
– Reducing overall risk for different chronic diseases (eg. Type 2 diabetes) 

The food source

Knowing the beneficial of prebiotics and probiotics, where can we get it from food then? 

asparagus, leeks, yams, skins of apple, bananas, onions and garlic, artichoke, chicory root, beans, etc.Kefir, Yogurt (regular milk/ coconut milk/ soy milk), miso soup, kimchi, kombucha, etc. 

Eatology does provide these yummy food, to build a good gut environment. to feed your happy tummy and to keep your taste buds satisfied! 


Chu, H. & S.K. Mazmanian. 2013. Innate immune recognition of the microbiota promotes host-microbial symbiosis. Nat. Immunol. 14: 668–675

Drakoularakou, A., G. Tzortzis, R.A. Rastall, et al. 2010. A double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized human study assessing the capacity of a novel galacto-oligosaccharide mixture in reducing travellers’ diarrhoea. Eur. J. Clin. Nutr. 64: 146–152.

FAO/WHO. 2002. Guidelines for the evaluation of probiotics in food. Report of a joint FAO/WHO working group on drafting guidelines for the evaluation of probiotics in food. London, Ontario, Canada.

Leenen, C.H. & L.A. Dieleman. 2007. Inulin and oligofructose in chronic inflammatory bowel disease. J. Nutr. 137: 2572S–2575S.

Struijk, E.A., A. Heraclides, D.R. Witte, et al. 2013. Dairy product intake in relation to glucose regulation indices and risk of type 2 diabetes. Nutr. Metab. Cardiovasc. Dis. 23: 822–828.

Smithers, G. 2013. Probiotics and Prebiotics. Advances in Dairy Ingredients. Oxford, UK: Wiley‐Blackwell. 269-290.

Tong, X., J.Y. Dong, Z.W. Wu, et al. 2011. Dairy consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus: a meta-analysis of cohort studies. Eur. J. Clin. Nutr. 65: 1027–1031.

Vasiljevic, T. and Shah, N.P. (2008) Probiotics—from Metchnikoff to bioactives. Review. International Dairy Journal 18, 714–728. 

Van Baarlen, P., J.M. Wells & M. Kleerebezem. 2013. Regulation of intestinal homeostasis and immunity with probiotic lactobacilli. Trends Immunol. 34: 208–215.