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The role of prebiotics in human physiology
Delivering natural functionality

ELLEN ERTMANN*, JOLANDA J. VAN DUINEN
*Corresponding author
FrieslandCampina Domo
P.O. Box 449, Zwolle, AK 8000, The Netherlands

Abstract

Humans have ten times more microbial cells than body cells, with the highest concentration located within the digestive tract. Many of these microbial cells are known to maintain health, while others are potential pathogens and can causeillness. Prebiotics stimulate especially the health promoting microbiota, resulting in growth and fermentation products influencingimmunity, host metabolism, mineral absorption and relief of constipation. The concept and nutritional functionalities of prebioticoligosaccharides with special attention to galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS) and their role in delivering “natural functionality” inthe human body are reviewed in this article.