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Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2017 Aug;14(8):491-502. doi: 10.1038/nrgastro.2017.75. Epub 2017 Jun 14.

Expert consensus document: The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP) consensus statement on the definition and scope of prebiotics.

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Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences, The University of Reading, Whiteknights, PO Box 226, Reading RG6 6AP, UK.
Department of Food Science and Technology, 258 Food Innovation Center, University of Nebraska - Lincoln, Lincoln, Nebraska 68588-6205, USA.
International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics, 7119 S. Glencoe Court, Centennial, Colorado 80122, USA.
School of Paediatrics and Child Health, The University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Perth, WA 6009, Australia.
Faculty of Kinesiology and Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 2500 University Drive, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Functional Foods Forum, Faculty of Medicine, Itäinen Pitkäkatu 4A, FI-20014, University of Turku, Turku 20014, Finland.
Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, AB21 9SB, UK.
Teagasc Moorepark Food Research Centre, Fermoy, Cork, P61 C996, Ireland.
Department of Animal Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1207 W Gregory Drive, Urbana, Illinois 61801, USA.
Université catholique de Louvain, Louvain Drug Research Institute, 73 Avenue E Mounier, WELBIO (Walloon Excellence in Life Sciences and Biotechnology), Metabolism and Nutrition Research Group, 1200 Brussels, Belgium.
Translational Research in Gastrointestinal Disorders, KU Leuven, Targid - Herestraat 49, Leuven, Belgium and Leuven Food Science and Nutrition Research Centre, BE 3001, Leuven, Belgium.
Lawson Health Research Institute, University of Western Ontario, 268 Grosvenor Street, London, Ontario, N6A 4V2, Canada.


In December 2016, a panel of experts in microbiology, nutrition and clinical research was convened by the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics to review the definition and scope of prebiotics. Consistent with the original embodiment of prebiotics, but aware of the latest scientific and clinical developments, the panel updated the definition of a prebiotic: a substrate that is selectively utilized by host microorganisms conferring a health benefit. This definition expands the concept of prebiotics to possibly include non-carbohydrate substances, applications to body sites other than the gastrointestinal tract, and diverse categories other than food. The requirement for selective microbiota-mediated mechanisms was retained. Beneficial health effects must be documented for a substance to be considered a prebiotic. The consensus definition applies also to prebiotics for use by animals, in which microbiota-focused strategies to maintain health and prevent disease is as relevant as for humans. Ultimately, the goal of this Consensus Statement is to engender appropriate use of the term 'prebiotic' by relevant stakeholders so that consistency and clarity can be achieved in research reports, product marketing and regulatory oversight of the category. To this end, we have reviewed several aspects of prebiotic science including its development, health benefits and legislation.

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