As our knowledge of the various roles of the gut microbiota in the maintenance of homeostasis grows and as we learn how a disrupted microbiota may contribute to disease, therapeutic strategies that target our microbial fellow-travellers become ever more attractive. Most appealing are those interventions that seek to modify or supplement our diet through the addition of nutraceuticals. We now know that our diet, whether in the short or long term, is a major modifier of microbiota composition and function. Of the various nutraceuticals, two categories, prebiotics and probiotics, have received the greatest attention in basic research and product development. While our understanding of the impacts of prebiotics and probiotics on the indigenous microbiota and host biology have been described in great detail in vitro and in animal models, the clinical literature leaves much to be desired. While many claims have been made, few are supported by high quality clinical trials. Linked Articles: This article is part of a themed section on The Pharmacology of Nutraceuticals. To view the other articles in this section visit http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/bph.v177.6/issuetoc.
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