Monday, October 10, 2016
Probiotics and Health Benefits
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization have defined probiotics as live microorganisms that can exert health benefits to the host when administered in sufficient concentrations. Probiotics have been reported to confer health benefits in infants, children, adolescents, and adults. Probiotic bacterial strains such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species have been reported to be beneficial and safe for long-term human use.
Probiotics are generally found in fermented foods and cultured milk and are commonly used for the manufacture of infant food. Non-dairy based probiotic products are gaining attention due to vegetarianism and also to meet the demands of those who are lactose intolerant.
Probiotics help in enhancement of gastrointestinal microflora, immune system, and treatment of irritable bowel-associated diarrhoea. Studies have also demonstrated that they improve lactose metabolism. According to scientific evidence, probiotic organisms exert anti-inflammatory effects and reduce necrosis. In premature infants with necrotising enterocolitis, probiotic strains such as Lactobacillus acidophilus ATCC 53103 and Bifidobacterium infantis ATCC 15697 have been shown to modulate intestinal inflammatory response.
Probiotics also contribute to skin health by improving atopic eczema, wound and scar healing, and facilitate skin rejuvenation. In addition, compounds produced by probiotic microorganisms can induce certain immune responses and improve skin barrier functions. Probiotics can prevent oral diseases including periodontal infection, halitosis, and dental caries by inhibiting the growth of cariogenic bacteria and periodontal pathogens. Current progress in the field of probiotics certainly indicate that the application of probiotics for human health will expand to a great extent. However, further investigations are required to substantiate the potential applications of probiotics.
News source - Shi LH, Balakrishnan K, Thiagarajah K, et al. Beneficial Properties of Probiotics. Trop Life Sci Res. 2016; 27(2):73–90.