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Probiotics are live, nonpathogenic microorganisms that may interact with gastrointestinal and vaginal microflora. Clinical studies indicate that certain probiotics may be useful in treating some diarrheal disorders, respiratory allergies, and eczema, as well as in controlling inflammation and reducing the risk of candidal vaginitis and colon cancer.
Dietary sources of probiotics are usually found in dairy products. Yogurt, for example, contains intestinal species of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria, two groups of probiotic bacteria. Gastric survival rates of probiotics are estimated at 20 to 40 percent, with the main obstacles to survival being gastric acidity and the action of bile salts. Investigations into different modes of administering probiotics may expand their applications in functional foods.
M. Elizabeth Kunkel Barbara H. D. Luccia
Gibson, G. R., and Roberfroid, Marcel B. (1999). Colonic Microbiota, Nutrition, and Health. Boston: Kluwer Academic.