Probiotic, prebiotic, synbiotic, postbiotic and antybiotic- what do this terms mean ?

There is so many articles, information and research about healthy eating, the beneficial effects of good bacteria on the body's immunity and various diseases including Celiac disease and other autoimmune diseases. But what are all these ''BIOTIC'' names ? How are they different?


Probiotics are strains of bacteria that support immunity, inhibit the growth of pathogenic bacteria, facilitate digestion, increase the absorption of vitamins and minerals

regulate the functioning of the intestines and prevent diarrhoea. The best-studied strains of probiotic bacteria, also available in ready-made preparations are:

Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, Lactococus and Streptococcus.

Good bacteria live naturally in the human body, but sometimes there are too few of them, for example during antibiotic treatment. Then supplementation is necessary. We will deliver natural probiotics to the body along with food. They are found, for example, in silage and fermented milk products. There are also ready-made probiotics available on the market containing the most important strains of bacteria.

Why do we need probiotics?

There is a reason why it is often said that the gut is the second brain. In fact, our health and well-being depends to a large extent on their efficient operation. A healthy,

sealed and evenly working intestine is not only an ally in the fight against obesity, food allergies or digestive problems.

This is where our resistance to diseases comes from, it is here that the centre of the fight against all infections attacking the body is located. The intestines can only

function thanks to the beneficial bacteria that are probiotics.

Types of probiotics :

Shielding probiotics

The administration of a probiotic is very often recommended with an antibiotic. The probiotic has a protective (protective) effect. Often, the only way to fight the disease

is to take antibiotics, but their use has side effects - antibiotics destroy the beneficial bacteria that live, among others, in in the digestive tract. Ringworm, abdominal

pain, gas and diarrhoea can develop as a result. To prevent this, protective probiotics are administered, usually containing lactic acid bacteria (Lactobacillus).

Soothing probiotics

Probiotic may have a soothing effect on the body - such properties are used in new-borns and infants suffering from colic. The probiotic for children contains live

bacterial cells (eg Lactobacillus rhamnosus), which restore the balance of the intestinal microflora. Relief probiotics also include preparations used, for example, in the

treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. In addition, probiotic bacteria help to relieve the symptoms of lactose intolerance.

Moisturizing probiotics

Natural probiotics have a beneficial effect on the condition of the skin. Hence, probiotics are more and more often used in the production of cosmetics, such

preparations have a moisturizing, nourishing and regenerating effect. The vaginal probiotic works in a similar way, restoring the balance and hydration of the vaginal

flora. Probiotics for women care for the sexual organs and provide them with an adequate level of hydration, so they are especially recommended in the case of

problems with vaginal dryness.

Antifungal probiotics

In the case of mycosis, antifungal probiotics will work. This is especially true of vaginal mycosis in women for whom gynecological probiotics are recommended. Such

drugs have a beneficial effect on health and prevent recurrence of vaginal fungal infections. Their use is recommended for pregnant women. Antifungal probiotic bacteria

are also indicated in the case of candidiasis (yeasts) caused by the Candida albicans fungus. Candidiasis may concern, inter alia, skin, mucous membranes, nails.

Antimicrobial probiotics

The probiotic will also work well in the case of a bacterial infection. It works by restoring the proper functioning of the digestive tract and improving the immune


The probiotic will help fight pathogenic bacteria and rebuild the intestinal microflora. Antibacterial probiotics can be used for a variety of ailments, e.g. constipation,

diarrhoea, digestive problems, bacterial infections, etc.


Prebiotics are not digested in the digestive tract, they provide a nutrient for probiotics, and thus have a beneficial effect on the human body.

We find them in many plant products. They are also used as an additive to functional and dietary foods and as an ingredient improving the quality of

finished products in the food industry.

Properties of prebiotics

Prebiotics reach the large intestine unchanged and are fermented by bacteria inhabiting this part of the gastrointestinal tract. As prebiotics pass through the lumen of

the intestine, they bind water and increase the volume of the intestinal contents. Due to the loose structure and large surface area, these contents provide a good

breeding ground for bacteria. Both increasing the volume of faecal masses and the production of gases in the fermentation process promote better intestinal peristaltics,

prevent constipation, allow you to get rid of toxins from the body faster, and thus reduce the risk of colon cancer. In the process of fermentation of prebiotics, short-

chain fatty acids are formed, which play an extremely important role in the proper functioning of the intestines. They are a breeding ground for beneficial bacteria, and at

the same time inhibit the growth of pathogens, accelerate the healing and regeneration processes of the intestinal epithelium, increase the production of mucus,

maintain the correct pH in the intestine, which limits the growth of pathogenic bacteria, increase the absorption of calcium, iron and magnesium, and also have an effect.

favourably on glucose and protein metabolism in the liver.

To be considered a prebiotic, a product (food or supplement) must meet the following conditions:

*stimulate the growth and activity of selected strains of bacteria that have a beneficial effect on health,

*lower the pH of the intestinal contents,

*be resistant to hydrolysis and the action of gastrointestinal enzymes,

*not be absorbed in the upper gastrointestinal tract,

*provide a medium for one or more beneficial microorganisms in the colon,

*be stable in the food processing process.

The role and action of prebiotics

The role of prebiotics in the body is very important. It is often identified with the role of dietary fibre, but it is not entirely correct. Prebiotics do belong to the fibre

fraction, but not all types of fibre are prebiotic. Prebiotics are designed to nourish the colon microbiota, and their effects include:

* Restoring the balance of the intestinal microflora, e.g. after antibiotic therapy,

* Relieving constipation,

* Preventing diarrhoea,

* Lowering the pH of the intestinal contents,

* Supporting the absorption of minerals,

* Lowering blood cholesterol,

* Reduction of the risk of colon cancer,

* Positive effect on the immune system.

Types and sources of prebiotics:

Prebiotics are carbohydrates that are not digested in the digestive tract. Among them, there are oligosaccharides and polysaccharides. Among the oligosaccharides,

fructo-oligosaccharides, lactulose and soy oligosaccharides are of the greatest importance for humans. Among the polysaccharides, mention may be made of inulin,

resistant starch, cellulose, hemicelluloses and pectin. Some of these compounds occur naturally in food as fibre. Others are obtained through chemical and enzymatic

processes, and then added to food products or produced in supplements.

A natural source of fructo-oligosaccharides are, inter alia, onions, asparagus, wheat, bananas, potatoes, and honey. Industrially, as a food additive, they are produced

by the breakdown of inulin or by synthesis from sucrose.

Lactulose is obtained by converting lactose from milk.

A very good source of soy oligosaccharides is soy, especially soy whey - a by-product of soy protein production.

Inulin is found naturally in chicory, onions, garlic, Jerusalem artichoke, tomatoes, bananas and wheat.

Starch, as a rule, is a compound that is easily digested by humans. However, a small part of it (resistant starch) passes through the gastrointestinal tract unchanged. In

order to obtain resistant starch, chemical or physical modifications are made which reduce the possibility of the starch being digested by amylolytic enzymes.

Cellulose is found in the cell walls of all plants, some fungi and bacteria. We can find it in fruits, vegetables and grains, but the most cellulose is flax, cotton and hemp.

On an industrial scale, it is obtained mainly from wood.

Hemicelluloses are found in food in seeds and bran. Their sources for production are wood and straw.

Pectin are found naturally in all fruits and vegetables. On average, they make up 35% of plant cell walls. In industry, their source is dried apple pomace and lemon peel.

Prebiotics such as fructo-oligosaccharides, soy oligosaccharides, inulin, cellulose and pectins are found naturally in foods and we can provide them with the diet. Often,

however, these substances are used in the food industry, both to create functional food with a beneficial effect on health, but also as additives replacing sugar or fat,

gelling, stabilizing, improving the consistency and durability of products.

Prebiotic food sources

Vegetables: artichokes, asparagus, beets, bell peppers, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, chicory root, cucumbers, daikon radish, dandelion greens, fennel

bulb, garlic, hearts of palm, jicama, konjac root, leeks, mushrooms, onion, peas, radishes, seaweed, sweet potatoes, tomatoes.

Fruit: apples, avocado, bananas, berries, cherries, kiwi, mango, olives, pears, plantains.

Other sources: chia seeds, coconut flour, dark chocolate, flax seed, ginger root, hemp seeds, honey, legumes, pumpkin seeds, quinoa, wild rice.

Prebiotics in processed foods

Prebiotics can be found in ready-made foods in such products as:

* low-calorie foods (soft, light), e.g. low-fat cottage cheese and dairy desserts, chocolate products, cakes, candies and creams,

* diabetic food,

* yoghurts,

* fruit drinks,

* jellies and jams,

* bread,

* meat products,

* candy,

* soups and sauces,

* baby food, milk formulas.

Supplements with prebiotics

Prebiotic supplements are not very common. First of all, due to the fact that by feeding on a rational diet containing plant products, we cover the body's need for these

ingredients. An effective dose of prebiotics for an adult is 5-10 g per day, which is what the average diet provides. It is worth reaching for prebiotics from the pharmacy

when we have problems with defecation, diarrhoea, have undergone antibiotic therapy or our diet is monotonous. We will most often buy prebiotic supplements in the

form of liquids, sachets and capsules. Especially popular are those based on aloe and lactulose in the form of a syrup.


A synbiotic is nothing more than a probiotic with a prebiotic in the form of one preparation. It usually contains a similar amount of beneficial microorganisms as the

probiotic itself. Synbiotics are most often bought as preparations for children and are available in various forms with a pleasant taste. They alleviate digestive problems,

abdominal pain and gas.

Prebiotics found in synbiotic preparations are often selected to change the pH in the digestive tract and thus facilitate the survival of probiotics. They also stimulate the

growth of beneficial bacteria that colonize the intestines.

What is a synbiotic and how does it work?

Simply put, a synbiotic is the term used to describe the combination of a probiotic and a prebiotic, which when delivered to the body exhibit synergistic (i.e. stronger)

effects to maintain or restore normal intestinal microbiota.

This term primarily refers to specially formulated pharmaceutical products, available mainly in the form of dietary supplements. However, the combination of probiotics

and prebiotics can also be made on the basis of natural sources, i.e. food products, or by combining special probiotic preparations with, for example, prebiotics from


It is synbiotics that combine the functions of probiotics and prebiotics in one preparation. The task of the prebiotic substance is to selectively promote and

support the probiotic component. This means that a specific prebiotic can stimulate the multiplication and activity of individual probiotic strains, and thus enhance their

beneficial effects.

Taking synbiotics is primarily related to the beneficial properties of probiotics, but also to the beneficial effects of the prebiotics themselves.

Combining forces of probiotic and prebiotic contributes to the joint health-promoting effect on the body and goes far beyond the digestive system. This means that

synbiotics fulfill a number of important functions, including:

* Take care of maintaining or rebuilding the proper intestinal microbiota

* Strengthen the immune system

* Alleviate the negative effects of antibiotic therapy

* Support the treatment and prevention of diarrhoea of ​​various etiologies

* Lower the level of bad cholesterol

* Increase the absorption of vitamins, elements and nutrients

* Have a positive effect on the activity of liver enzymes

* Affect the proper pH in the intestines

* Relieve symptoms of gastric and duodenal ulcers

* Weaken the action of allergens

* Fight pathogens and inhibit their development

* Facilitate the treatment and prevention of constipation

* Help to reduce gas

* Stimulate intestinal peristalsis

* Support the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome, various types of enteritis and other intestinal ailments

* Increase the effectiveness of Helicobacter pylori infection treatment

* Reduce the symptoms of lactose intolerance

* Increase the quality of life of people suffering from celiac disease

* Take an active part in the regeneration processes of the intestinal epithelium

* Accelerate the elimination of toxic substances from the body

* Support the treatment and prevention of vaginal infections

* Affect the well-being of people struggling with anxiety and depression

* Can support the treatment and prevention of obesity

* Reduce the risk of developing colorectal cancer

How to choose a good synbiotic? What to look for?

A good synbiotic is one that will contain specific probiotic strains and a properly composed and sufficient dose of prebiotics that will be an ideal support for beneficial


The quality of the probiotic will prove the value of the synbiotic in the first place. The presence of even the best prebiotic substances is useless if ineffective

microorganisms are found in a given preparation. Therefore, in the composition of the synbiotic, one should look for probiotic strains that have a proven, supported by

scientific research and appropriate documentation, beneficial effect on the human body.

Moreover, each probiotic microorganism must have a precisely defined activity profile. It is worth remembering that a particular beneficial strain has individual

properties that should not be ascribed to other microorganisms, even those belonging to the same species.

This means that certain beneficial bacteria or yeasts may, for example, prove to be excellent in the treatment of infectious diarrhoea, but will not prove effective during

antibiotic therapy.

In order to check the effectiveness of a particular synbiotic, read the information on the label and in the package leaflet. In this case, special attention should be paid to

the description of probiotics. Regardless of the scope of activity, probiotic microorganisms should be listed:

* Strain type and species classification

* Full characteristics of the strain or strains

* The number of living microbial colonies (in CFU), which should be sufficiently high, preferably around 15-20 billion

* Precise indications for use

* Recommended dosage

* Storage method

* Expiration date

The description of the synbiotic should also include the name of the nutrient, i.e. the prebiotic.


Postbiotics are metabolites of probiotic bacteria. After eating, the food in our intestines undergoes fermentation processes involving probiotic bacteria. Postbiotics are

the product of these reactions. They have a positive effect on the entire body similar to that of probiotics. They improve immunity, reduce inflammation, improve

digestion, and can have a positive effect on well-being.

Postbiotics - types

The most common types of postbiotics are short-chain fatty acids, enzymes, teichoic acids and vitamins. They are produced by inactivating probiotic strains using heat,

ultraviolet, chemicals, gamma radiation and sonic waves. However, the method of using heat is most often used.

How do postbiotics work on the body?

They affect homeostasis, i.e. the balance of the intestinal microflora, rebuilding it after antibiotic therapies, a poorly balanced diet poor in prebiotics and after stressful

situations, with an emphasis on chronic stress. Regaining the intestinal balance has a positive effect on the entire body on its various levels.

Why are postbiotics gaining in importance?

Unlike probiotics, postbiotics are not alive. This means that they can be stored under normal conditions without fear of losing their properties. Let me remind you that

probiotics are living organisms, so they should preferably be kept in the refrigerator for a fairly short period of time.

There is no such problem with postbiotics. They can be stored for longer and even enrich food without fear of losing their properties.

What are postbiotics used for?

Postbiotics have so far been studied in small groups. However, they show surprising properties that improve the condition of patients with many diseases

Postbiotics - safety of use

Postbiotics do not appear to cause serious side effects, while retaining similar effectiveness to probiotics. However, it is a product that has been attracting the attention

of scientists recently. So we are waiting for more extensive research gathering a larger number of participants to fully confirm the effectiveness and safety of these

natural substances.


Antibiotics are a group of substances used to treat bacterial infections. Antibiotics are medicines that are used to treat all kinds of bacterial infections, helping the

body to control them (they kill or stop the growth of bacteria and their division). They are also used prophylactically, e.g. before surgery and in the prophylaxis of

bacterial endocarditis.

At the beginning, antibiotics were only natural substances active against bacteria. Now they are also synthetic substances. Currently, chemotherapeutic agents, i.e.

substances produced by man with chemical methods, are also considered drugs that act on microorganisms.

Antibiotics are not effective against viruses that cause seasonal infections or the flu.In viral infections, treatment with antibiotics does not make sense, because they do

not work on viruses and do not cure diseases caused by them, so we do not treat colds or flu with antibiotics. The flu is a viral infection, as are most colds with a runny

nose and cough, and viruses are not susceptible to antibiotics. Special drugs have been invented against viruses that inhibit their development.

Even a very bad feeling or a high fever during a viral infection is not a reason to resort to an antibiotic. However, in a small percentage of cases, after viral infection,

bacterial superinfection may occur, and then the antibiotic may be justified.

Their activity is based on inhibiting the multiplication or killing of bacteria. Antibiotics can be administered for both treatment and prophylaxis of bacterial infections.

The first antibiotics discovered were substances of natural origin. Penicillin extracted by Fleming is a substance produced by mould fungi. In nature, antibiotics are

chemical weapons produced by certain bacteria and simple fungi. In current medicine, both substances of natural origin and their artificially modified versions are used.

Antibiotics - history.

Where did the antibacterial drugs come from?

Substances with antibiotic properties have been used in the treatment of bacterial infections since ancient times. It is true that people who lived centuries ago did not

know the term "antibiotic", but they unknowingly used chemical compounds from this group in medical practices.

In many ancient civilizations, medics applied mouldy bread containing antibiotic substances to wounds. This treatment reduced the risk of developing a bacterial


The first researcher to scientifically prove the anti-infective properties of mould was John Parkinson (1567–1650). However, several centuries had to pass before the

purified antibiotics found their way into hospitals and pharmacies. Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin in 1928, thus beginning the era of antibiotic therapy.

In the 20th century, antibiotics revolutionized medicine. Thanks to the introduction of these drugs, mankind has overcome many deadly diseases so far. Unfortunately,

easy access to antibiotics has led to their overuse by patients. As a consequence, the bacteria became resistant to drugs and many drugs that were effective in the

past no longer work.

How do antibiotics work against bacteria?

The war of antibiotics against bacteria is exciting. It is like a battle in which the balance of victory is tilted to one side and the other. To save a patient whose body

develops a bacterial infection, antibiotics are used. And they work, but blindly. By destroying the bad bacteria, they also kill the good ones. They also create free space

for new, more drug-resistant. The bacteria themselves are not idle either: they change their metabolism so that the antibiotic cannot damage them, or they intentionally

damage the drug themselves.

It may happen that the selected antibiotic is completely wrong with the species of bacteria that caused the infection. Then they will develop completely unshakable,

but additionally they will learn this antibiotic. Then it is enough for such a colony to meet other bacteria that would normally be susceptible to the antibiotic in question

and teach it to know how to defend itself. Yes! Different species of bacteria can "communicate" with each other and transmit this knowledge (sometimes it is the killing of

one bacteria by another, but it is "general good").

The action of antibiotics can be divided into two parts: bactericidal antibiotics - they kill microbial cells and bacteriostatic antibiotics - affect the metabolism of the

bacterial cell, preventing its growth and multiplication.

Do all antibiotics kill the same bacteria?

The spectrum of action of antibiotics

Antibiotics can  be categorized on the basis of target specificity. This means that there are types of antibiotics that kill a large group of different bacteria, and those

that are specialized for a small set of microbes.

Differentiation on the activity spectrum makes it easier to understand how a particular drug works. Narrow-spectrum substances are active against a particular type of

bacteria, for example gram-negative or gram-positive bacteria. "Broad-spectrum" antibiotics, on the other hand, are effective against many types of bacteria.

Different antibiotics work against different bacteria. The ideal would therefore be to use an antibiotic that would act strictly against the bacteria that caused the


To this end, pathogenic bacteria are isolated from a patient sample (blood, urine, throat swab) and their susceptibility to various antibiotics is checked. The result of such

a test is called an antibiogram. This avoids the use of antibiotics that do not work.

Probiotic, Prebiotic, Postbiotic, Synbiotic, Antibiotic what are all these ''BIOTIC'' names? How are they different?‍

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