Probiotics are defined by Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Health Organization (WHO) as: “live microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host”. Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus are the principal probiotic groups; however, there are reports on the probiotic potential of Enterococcus, Bacillus and yeasts. A number of potential benefits of probiotics have been proposed, including: alleviation of lactose intolerance, immunomodulatory activity, hypocholesterolaemic effects, prevention of inflammatory bowel disease and effect on Helicobacter pylori eradication. Currently, most of probiotic strains used commercially were initially isolated from human feces whether adults or children, as well as dairy products. However, recently, it has been shown that non-fermented dairy foods such as vegetable foods are an excellent source of bacteria to find new probiotic strains with a significant probiotic potential. In this review, the history of probiotics, their mechanisms of action and the beneficial health effects are presented.
Keywords: Bacillus, Beneficial health effects, Bifidobacterium, Enterococcus, Immunomodulation, Lactobacillus, Mechanisms of action, Metabolic effects, Probiotics, Safety assessment, Technological and functional criteria, Sacharomyces.