What are Probiotics?
Probiotics are live microorganisms that are intended to have health benefits when consumed. Although people often think of bacteria and other microorganisms as harmful “germs,” many are indeed helpful. Some bacteria help digest food, destroy pathogenic microorganisms or produce vitamins. One of the most significant groups of probiotic microorganisms are the lactic acid bacteria, commonly used in fermentation of dairy products. Many of the microorganisms in probiotic products are the same as or similar to the microorganisms that naturally live in our body. Probiotics may contain a variety of microflora. The most common are bacteria that belong to the genera of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. Besides, there are other bacteria and yeasts such as Saccharomyces boulardii. Under Schedule VII, the FSSAI has approved the use of 28 strains of probiotic microorganisms in foods. These organisms may be used either singly or in combination. Different types of probiotics may have different effects. For example, if a specific kind of Lactobacillus helps prevent an illness, it does not necessarily mean that another species of Lactobacillus or any Bifidobacterium species would do the same thing. It is important to remember that realization of the intended benefits of probiotics would require the consumption of a minimum number of bacteria. It is recommended that a person consume at least 1×109 viable probiotic cells per day. Not all fermented products may contain enough active microorganisms. The fresher the product, the more will be the active microorganisms in it.
How Probiotics Work?
Probiotics may have a variety of effects in the body and they may act in different ways as follows.
Help body to maintain a healthy community of microorganisms and favourably alter the balance of intestinal microflora, promote intestinal integrity & mobility and increase the resistance to infection
Produce substances having antimicrobial, antimutagenic, antagonistic and anticarcinogenic properties
Regulate host innate and adaptive immune responses by modulating the functions of dendritic cells, macrophages and lymphocytes
Regular consumption of probiotic foods establishes a positive balance of beneficial microbes in the intestinal flora. Probiotics have shown promise for various health disorders by improving gut health and in several medical conditions, including lactose intolerance, allergies, hepatic disease, Helicobacter pylori infections, urinary tract infections, hyperlipidemia and assimilation of cholesterol. Probiotics may play a beneficial role including prevention of diarrhea, necrotizing enterocolitis and sepsis in premature infants, treatment of colic disorders, periodontal disease and induction or maintenance of remission in ulcerative colitis. The immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory properties are observed in certain strains of Propionibacteriumfreudenreichii, Streptococcus thermophilus, Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus and subsp. Lactis and Lactobacillus helveticus as well. The actions of lactic acid bacteria are species and strain specific and depend on sufficient number of bacteria being available in the intestine.
Probiotics in Dairy Foods
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