The colonic microflora is important to health. The growth and metabolism of the many individual bacterial species inhabiting the large bowel depend primarily on the substrates available to them, most of which come from the diet.1,2 This has led to attempts to modify the structure and metabolic activities of the community through diet—using probiotics and prebiotics. Probiotics are live microbial food supplements. The best known are the lactic acid bacteria and bifidobacteria, which are widely used in yoghurts and other dairy products (fig (fig1).1). These organisms are non-pathogenic and non-toxigenic, retain viability during storage, and survive passage through the stomach and small bowel. Prebiotics are non-digestible food ingredients which selectively stimulate the growth or activities, or both, of lactobacilli or bifidobacteria in the colon, thereby improving health.