Prebiotics are non‐digestible food ingredients that beneficially affect the host by selectively stimulating the growth and activity of probiotic bacteria in the colon. All dietary prebiotics and/or dietary fiber provide the physiological and beneficial effects and, therefore, are considered as essential nutrients. According to the Codex Alimentarius and the Canadian Bureau of Nutritional Sciences, dietary fiber consists of carbohydrates with a degree of polymerization (DP) of three or more that naturally occur in foods of plant origin and that are not digested and absorbed by the small intestine. The same definition goes well along with the term dietary prebiotics. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)|Institute of Medicine (IOM) states that dietary fiber only comes from plant foods and anything else is regarded as “added fiber” or “novel fiber.” Dietary fiber and/dietary prebiotics can be industrially produced for a broad range of food applications. They can also be processed into capsules for the purpose of microencapsulating probiotics. In this chapter, the most recognized physiological and/or beneficial effects of the prebiotics are clarified. New evidence on the concentrations of the short‐chain fatty acids (SCFAs) and their metabolic relationship with better health or disease prevention in the host is provided.
Part of the book: Probiotics and Prebiotics in Human Nutrition and Health