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Pre-biotics and Pro-biotics


Probiotics are live microorganisms that, when ingested in adequate amounts, exert a positive effect on the health of the individual.  There are many probiotics available with different preparations, bacterial strains and doses.

It is not generally possible to make recommendations about probiotics as there is insufficient good evidence to recommend any specific probiotic product when looking at the benefits of taking probiotics for general health, however, it is considered safe to use probiotics for people with IBS.  There is now a growing body of evidence that spefic pro-biotics give specfic benefits. It is important that the individual probiotic addresses the particular metabolic problem that contributes to disease. This relates to the microbiome as yet few probiotics have been demonstrated in good quality clinical trials to have specfic positive effects. Nevetheless much exciting and interesting research is pushing forward to elucidate which organisms we should be taking to address specfic diseases. There is evidence for benefit in psychological disease, particularly in increasing resilience in the setting of anxiety (zenflore) and also in alleviating sensitvity and inflammation in inflammatory disease (Alforex and VSL3#).

If one pro-biotic doesn't wrk it doesn't mean others will not do so.

If you choose to try probiotics, take these for at least four weeks at the dose recommended by the manufacturer and monitor the effect on your symptoms


These are food substances which encourage the growth of healthy bacteria, they may be part of a normal diet or patients may choose to supplement their diet with  specific components that increase the likelihood of increasing the number and diversity of healthy bacteria living within the colon. Prebiotics often contain oligosaccharides, disaccharides or other sugars that are metabolised by bacteria rather thn human proteins. Foods which include pre-biotics are fermented foods, onions, garlic, fibre, beans, many fruits and Jerusalem artichokes. Readers may note that all these are foods that may increase flatulence and for those with Irritable bowel syndrome – symptoms. Some pre-biotics may promote the growth of particular species.



These are pre-biotics given in combination with probiotics, with the specific aim of encouraging the growth of that particular probiotic.

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