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Proc Nutr Soc. 2010 Aug;69(3):429-33. doi: 10.1017/S0029665110001692. Epub 2010 Jun 14.

Probiotics: beneficial factors of the defence system.

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Danone Research, RD 128, F-91767 Palaiseau Cedex, France.


Probiotics, defined as living micro-organisms that provide a health benefit to the host when ingested in adequate amounts, have been used traditionally as food components to help the body to recover from diarrhoea. They are commonly ingested as part of fermented foods, mostly in fresh fermented dairy products. They can interact with the host through different components of the gut defence systems. There is mounting clinical evidence that some probiotics, but not all, help the defence of the host as demonstrated by either a shorter duration of infections or a decrease in the host's susceptibility to pathogens. Different components of the gut barrier can be involved in the strengthening of the body's defences: the gut microbiota, the gut epithelial barrier and the immune system. Many studies have been conducted in normal free-living subjects or in subjects during common infections like the common cold and show that some probiotic-containing foods can improve the functioning of or strengthen the body's defence. Specific probiotic foods can be included in the usual balanced diet of consumers to help them to better cope with the daily challenges of their environment.

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