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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Rebecca T. Horvat, PhD, D (ABMM)(University of Kansas Medical Center)
Description: This unique book provides a scientific update on the use of probiotics and prebiotics as an antidote to human diseases. The use of probiotics is not a new concept but their use as specific therapy has recently gotten more attention from medicine and science and thus have become more widely accepted.
Purpose: The purpose is to provide a single reference that provides reliable information needed for scientists working in this new area of investigation. At the end of chapter 1, the purpose is stated as "consolidating the range of information available on how microbes can be useful to promote health and prevent or treat disease." It is clear that the book will be key for those interested in this developing research field.
Audience: This book is written for physicians treating patients, scientists investigating the micro flora of humans, and nutritionists investigating and treating patients with various metabolic and nutritional problems. This book could also be used by students. The chapters are written by highly respected scientists who have coordinated their efforts to provide a well integrated volume that will serve as a valuable resource for many years.
Features: The term "probiotic" is literally defined as supporting life, but in this context it refers to live bacterial agents that promote the health of the host. The other term used in this book, "prebiotic," has been defined as a food ingredient that beneficially affects the host by stimulating the growth or activity of certain valuable bacteria. Prebiotics are generally carbohydrates that are indigestible by humans. Of interest is the historical information that the use of probiotics and prebiotics is not new and has been documented in scientific and medical literature of the early 1900s. The book starts with describing the studies that have investigated probiotics. Many chapters are devoted to the description of the favorable bacterial species and how they work to keep humans healthy. Other chapters describe the substances that are used as prebiotics and how they have been investigated in humans and animals. The final chapters demonstrate the use of these agents in the treatment of specific diseases in humans and animals.
Assessment: This is a unique book that describes and discusses some key ingredients to good health and that is a healthy, balanced microbial system. I was greatly impressed with the scientific presentation of this material and the objectivity of the authors. I have gained great insight into the utility of this approach in treating diseases. I anticipate that this book will trigger further studies focusing on this approach.