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J Nutr. 2010 Mar;140(3):671S-6S. doi: 10.3945/jn.109.113779. Epub 2010 Feb 3.

Guidance for substantiating the evidence for beneficial effects of probiotics: current status and recommendations for future research.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, University Medical Center Utrecht, St. Antonius Hospital, Nieuwegein, The Netherlands.


Probiotic bacteria are live microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host. There is a growing interest in probiotics within the scientific community, with consumers, and in the food industry. The interactions between the gut and intestinal microbiota and between resident and transient microbiota define a new arena in physiology, an understanding of which would shed light on the "cross-talk" between humans and microbes. The different beneficial effects of specific probiotic strains may be translated into different health claims. However, there is a need for comprehensive and harmonized guidelines on the assessment of the characteristics and efficacy of probiotics and of foods containing them. An international expert group of ILSI has evaluated the published evidence of the functionality of different probiotics in 4 areas of (human) application: 1) metabolism, 2) chronic intestinal inflammatory and functional disorders, 3) infections, and 4) allergy. Based on the existing evidence, concrete examples of demonstration of benefits and gaps are listed, and guidelines and recommendations are defined that should help design the next generation of probiotic studies.

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