Probiotic bacteria are increasingly incorporated into food products intended to confer health benefits in the human gut and beyond. Little is known about how the food matrix and product formulation impacts probiotic functionality, even though such information is essential to scientific understanding and regulatory substantiation of health benefits. The food format has the potential to affect probiotic survival, physiology, and potentially efficacy, but few comparative studies in humans have been conducted. Human studies should account for the effects of the food base on human health and the bioactive components present in the foods that may augment or diminish interactions of the probiotic with the human host. Some studies show that food ingredients such as prebiotics and milk components can improve probiotic survival during the shelf life of foods, which may enhance probiotic efficacy through increased dose effects. Furthermore, there are indications that synbiotic products are more effective than either probiotics or prebiotics alone. Identification of probiotic adaptations to the food and gut environments holds promise for determining the specific cell components and potential bacterial-food interactions necessary for health benefits and determining how these factors are affected by changes in food formulation and host diet. These studies, combined with controlled human studies, are important future research activities for advancing this field.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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