Probiotics: their potential to impact human health
Sanders, M.E., Gibson, G.R., Gill, H.S. and Guarner, F. (2007) Probiotics: their potential to impact human health. Council for Agricultural Science and Technology Issue Paper, 36. pp. 1-20. ISSN 1070-0021
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Probiotics—live microorganisms that when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host—have been studied for both human and animal applications, and worldwide research on this topic has accelerated in recent years. This paper reviews the literature on probiotics, describes how probiotics work in human ecosystems, and outlines the impact of probiotics on human health and disease. The paper also addresses safety issues of probiotic use, suggests future developments in the field of probiotics, and provides research and policy recommendations. Product considerations and potential future developments regarding probiotics also are discussed. The authors conclude that controlled human studies have revealed a diverse range of health benefits from consumption of probiotics, due largely to their impact on immune function or on microbes colonizing the body. Additional, well-designed and properly controlled human and mechanistic studies with probiotics will advance the essential understanding of active principles, mechanisms of action, and degree of effects that can be realized by specific consumer groups. Recommendations include establishment of a standard of identity for the term “probiotic,” adoption of third-party verification of label claims, use of probiotics selectively in clinical conditions, and use of science-based assessment of the benefits and risks of genetically engineered probiotic microbes.