Probiotics are beneficial forms of gut bacteria that help stimulate the natural enzymes and processes that keep our digestive organs functioning properly. J. Selvathi, P. Paulin Patricia, R. Meenatchi, and V.R. Sinija review some probiotic food and microorganisms that are known to be beneficial to human health.

Probiotics are living microorganisms, to be consumed in sufficient amounts leading to beneficial health of the host as it improves the composition of intestinal microflora. In addition, it helps in improving gut health and also plays a beneficial role in curing ailments such as several urinary tract infections, hyperlipidemia and assimilation of cholesterol (Ejtahed et al., 2011). Probiotic microorganisms that are known to be beneficial to human health can be consumed directly or with food like fermented dairy products, enrichment of various foods rich in beneficial microbe’s consumption of pharmaceutical products obtained using viable cells (lyophilic preparations and tablets).

Health benefits of probiotics
Health benefits of probiotic food

Importance of gut microbes

Digestive health affects every physiological system in our body. The secret to restore digestive health is all about balancing out the good and bad bacteria in the gut. To be healthy, consuming probiotic foods and supplements daily is necessary. The viable microorganisms in food assist dietary and microbial balance by regulating the mucosal and systematic immunity.

Mode of action of Probiotics

The probiotics when attached to the wall of the intestine increase the number of beneficial bacteria and fight against harmful bacteria thus maintaining a balance between the beneficial and harmful microbes by the following mechanisms:

Acts as a barrier, lining the intestinal tract. They block bacterial effects by producing substances that kill bacteria and compete with pathogens and toxins supports the intestinal epithelium (the thin tissue forming the outer layer of the intestine).

Enhance mucus production forms a thicker mucus layer, which protect us against invasive bacteria.
Enhance innate immunity and control pathogen-induced inflammation by secreting protective immunoglobulins and stimulating dendritic cells and make them slightly less responsive and less reactive to bacteria.

Table 1: Probiotic foods and their health benefits
Table 1: Probiotic foods and their health benefits

Factors affecting probiotic bacteria

The major factors that affect the probiotic bacteria present in the human body are given below:

  • GMO (Genetically Modified) foods like corn, soy, etc. & dairy products from animals fed a diet of GMO, Chemicals & medications (Mouthwash, antacids, laxatives, etc)
  • Highly processed foods, especially junk food, emotional stress, antibacterial soaps & smoking.
  • Regular consumption of this chlorinated water resulted in unbalanced gut bacteria.
  • Processed or refined sugars & grains
  • Antibiotics and non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like Aspirin, Advil, Motrin, etc.


Probiotics are a rich source of protein, calcium, vitamins, minerals and beneficial microorganisms which prevents severe diseases like GI disorder, cancer, cardiac risk, liver inflammation etc. Considering its health benefits several probiotic food products are available commercially. Developing modern scientific processing methods such as micro-encapsulation, cell immobilization and constant fermentation, have a potential impact on natural drug supplementation in severe diseases. Future research should focus on understanding the mechanisms occurring between the natural bacterial flora and the targeted diseases.


  1. Laberge, M. Digestive Diseases. (accessed 9 June 2012).
  2. Reid G (2006). Probiotics to Prevent the Need For, and Augment the Use Of Antibiotics. Canadian Journal of Infectious Disease and Medical Microbiology. 17(5):291-295.
  3. Fedorak RN, Madsen KL (2004). Probiotics and the management of inflammatory bowel disease. Inflamm Bowel Dis. 10(3):286-99.
  4. Goldin B R, Gorbach S L (2008). Clinical Indications for Probiotics: An Overview. Clinical Infectious Disease 46(2).
  5. Boyle P, Langman JS (2000). ABS of colorectal cancer epidemiology. British Medical Journal 321: 805-808.
    Campbell-McBride N. Interview with Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride. http://www. (accessed January 2010).
  6. Chenoll E, Casinos B, Bataller E (2011) Novel Probiotic Bifidobacterium bifidum CECT 7366 Strain Active against the Pathogenic Bacterium Helicobacter pylori. Applied Environmental Microbiology 77(4) 1335-1343.
  7. Reddy BS, Rivenson A (1993). Inhibitory effect of Bifidobacterium longum on colon, mammary, and liver carcinogenesis induced by 2-amino-3-methylimidazo [4,5-f] quinoline, a food mutagen, Cancer Research, 53(17) 3914-8.
  8. Division of Digestive and Liver Diseases, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, NY, USA
  9. Elizabeth C. Verna, Susan Lucak (2010). Therap Adv Gastroenterol 3(5): 307-319.
  10. Fuller R (1992). Probiotics the Scientific Thesis. London: Chapman & Hall.
  11. Bentley R, Meganathan R (1982). Biosynthesis of vitamin K (Menaquinone) in bacteria. Microbiological Reviews 46: 241-280.