Probiotics, prebiotics and supplements carrying the Crossed Grain Trademark

What is the difference between a probiotic and prebiotic?

Our gut contains a community of diverse bacteria that are essential for maintaining our health, such as helping us digest food, produce vitamins, and regulate the immune system.

Probiotics are live bacteria or yeast that are thought to have health benefits when consumed as a food supplement or added to food sources, such as yogurt. Bacteria in our gut can be disrupted by an illness or treatment and it has been suggested that taking probiotics will help restore the natural balance of good bacteria in our gut.

Prebiotics are a source of food for our good bacteria and help them grow in the gut. Prebiotics can be found in several plant foods such as asparagus, artichokes, tomato, garlic, and onions. They can also be manufactured and added into food or supplements.

Synbiotics are a combination of probiotics and prebiotics that are thought to positively affect our gut bacteria.         

Are probiotics and prebiotics recommended for people with coeliac disease?

In general, there is very little evidence to support health claims made about probiotics and prebiotics.

Dr Elena Verdu presented the research around probiotics in coeliac disease at our 2023 Research Conference. The talk highlighted studies that have looked at whether probiotics improve gut symptoms in adults and children with coeliac disease. Although some of the studies suggested probiotics have some positive effects on symptoms, there is not enough evidence to recommend probiotics in people with coeliac disease.

Further research is needed to understand how gut bacteria is affected in coeliac disease and whether probiotics or prebiotics would be beneficial. 

You can watch Dr Verdu’s talk here

Do probiotics and prebiotics contain gluten?

Our Health Advisory Council advises that taking probiotics and prebiotics are not likely to cause harm to people with coeliac disease and research has shown that they are safe for people with coeliac disease to consume within clinical trials. However, some over the counter probiotics and prebiotics could contain gluten, so it is important to always check the label.

Probiotics and Prebiotics are classed as food supplements rather than medicine. Some countries in Europe manufacture and sell probiotics and supplements with the Crossed Grain Trademark, which helps easily identify products that are gluten free.

If a product has the Crossed Grain Trademark, it does not imply that it supports the health and nutrition claims made about that product for people with coeliac disease, it just shows that these products have been through extra checks, including checking the gluten content and reviewing how they are manufactured to ensure that they are suitable for a gluten free diet with regard to the gluten content.

Currently there are no probiotics, prebiotics or supplements manufactured in the UK that have the Crossed Grain Trademark.

If you are considering taking food supplements for your coeliac disease you should speak to your local healthcare team.