What are Probiotics?

February 14th, 2012

One widely used definition, developed by the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, is that probiotics are live micro-organisms, which, when administered in adequate amounts, present a health benefit on the host.

Probiotics are available in foods and dietary supplements.  Examples of foods containing probiotics are yogurt, fermented and unfermented milk, miso, and some juices and soy beverages.  In probiotic foods and supplements, the bacteria may have been present originally or added during preparation.

There are several reasons people are interested in probiotics for health purposes.  First, the world is full of micro-organisms and so are people's bodies.  Friendly bacteria are vital to proper development of the immune system, to protect against micro-organisms that could cause disease, and to the digestion and absorption of food and nutrients.  Another part of the interest in probiotics stems from the fact that there are cells in the digestive tract connected with the immune system.  One theory is that if you alter the micro-organisms in a person's intestinal tract by introducing probiotics, you can positively affect the immune system's defenses.

If you would like to learn more information on probiotics, visit