Essay on The Disagreements Over the Health Effects of Probiotics

Essay on The Disagreements Over the Health Effects of Probiotics

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Since the year 1965, the term probiotics has been used. Lilly and Stillwell were the first to describe probiotics as substances secreted by one organism, which stimulated growth of other organisms (Gupta, 2009). It was however, Elie Metchnikoff in the 1900s who first suggested that there were health properties in lactic acid bacteria from fermented food products (Anukam, 2007). Since then, the meaning has undergone some changes, one of the most recent definitions is that probiotics are beneficial live microorganisms, which must be consumed in a sufficient amount for the desired health effect (Guarner, 1998). The Food and Agriculture Organisation/World Health Organisation has adopted this definition but there are many other organisations whom of which disagree with the term as it apparently states an immeasurable health claim. The disagreements with probiotics will be discussed further in this essay.
The most commonly used bacterium strains for probiotics are Gram-positive Lactobacillus acidophilus, L. casei. and numerous Bifidobacterium species, B. longum and B. bifidum. There many are other strains of bacteria that have been described as probiotic but have failed to meet standards in clinical trials, this is due to their low resistance to low pH levels and bile salts in the gastrointestinal tract (Hekmat, 2006).
There is certain criterion that must be met before bacteria can be named or used as probiotics; they must be vigorously tested in clinical trials on humans and animals to ensure their safety for commercial use and if so will be listed on GRAS (Generally Recognised As Safe) list. There also needs to be evidence to whether or not they actually provide beneficial effects to the host. Other ideal properties for probiotic s...


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...s, other health professionals in NHS trusts will be advising patients on the use of probiotics and likewise comparable advice will be given. Patients with AAD or CDAD will not be recommended to use probiotics due to the lack of supporting evidence, however it is under the discretion of the patient whether to use them or not (Wilcox, 2013).
Live active cultures versus probiotics
There seems to be misperception between the terms live active cultures and whether it just means probiotics. Probiotics are live active cultures however not all live active cultures can be considered probiotic. This is due to the rigorous clinical trials probiotics go through in order to gain that label. Live active cultures are bacterial species found in certain food products; they cannot be called probiotics, as there is no evidence to suggest that these cultures actually benefit the host.

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