What are probiotics?
Derived from Greek, ‘probiotics’ literally translates as ‘for life’ (as opposed to antibiotics which means ‘against life’). By definition, probiotics are “live microorganisms that when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host” (Hill et al., 2014).
Based on this definition, it is evident that to achieve true ‘probiotic’ status, a microorganism must fulfil the following criteria:
1. The microorganism must be alive at time of ingestion
2. Ingested in a dosage high enough to cause an effect
3. The ingested live microorganisms need to grant a beneficial effect to the host in order to be a probiotic
Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species colonize the gastrointestinal tract and the urogenital tract of humans. They are found in a wide variety of food products and fermented products. They are listed as GRAS (generally recognized as safe) by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and they are listed as QPS (qualified presumption of safety) by the European Food Safety Authority (Hill et al., 2018; Jungersen et al., 2014).