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Role of probiotics in host metabolism

MARTIN H. FLOCH, M.D.
Yale University School of Medicine, Section of Digestive Diseases
40 Temple Street, Suite 1A, New Haven, CT 06510, USA

Abstract

Probiotics are live human bacteria administered in supplements or foods to benefit the host. Once taken by the hostthey pass into the small and large intestine where they become part of the microbiota that acts in intestinal microecology. Theyact largely to affect the immune process and benefit the host in infection control, act within the microecology to neutralize some toxic substances or possibly carcinogens, and help in the process of colonic fermentation. There are approximately 20 strains ororganisms employed as probiotics. Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria are the most popular probiotics used. They are largely lacticacid producing. The fermentation process involves carbohydrate nutrients of the diet, dietary fibre, and prebiotics. The amountand type of nutrient will affect the microflora. The host is benefited by the production of short chain fatty acids, acetic, butyric,and propionic. Depending on the nutrients supplied and microflora present the host metabolism may be affected by varyinglipid production, glycemic control and cardiac risk factors.