Phytobiotics, also known as phytochemicals or phytogenics, have a wide variety of biological activities and have recently emerged as alternatives to synthetic antibiotic growth promoters. Numerous studies have reported the growth-promoting effects of phytobiotics in chickens, but their precise mechanism of action is yet to be elucidated. Phytobiotics are traditionally known for their antioxidant activity. However, extensive investigations have shown that these compounds also have anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and transcription-modulating effects. Phytobiotics are non-nutritive constituents, and their bioavailability is low. Nonetheless, their beneficial effects have been observed in several tissues or organs. The health benefits of the ingestion of phytobiotics are attributed to their antioxidant activity. However, several studies have revealed that not all these benefits could be explained by the antioxidant effects alone. In this review, I focused on the bioavailability of phytobiotics and the possible mechanisms underlying their overall effects on intestinal barrier functions, inflammatory status, gut microbiota, systemic inflammation, and metabolism, rather than the specific effects of each compound. I also discuss the possible mechanisms by which phytobiotics contribute to growth promotion in chickens.
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