What Are Probiotics?

According to the FAO/WHO, probiotics are defined as “live microorganisms, which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.”

Microorganisms are considered “probiotics” for humans when they have been demonstrated, through various scientific studies and clinical trials, to confer health benefits in humans.

Bacteria forming the shape of the word GUT

What is the Gut Microbiome?

Living within and upon us is a vast community of microorganisms. They are part of an essential human organ: our microbiome. Composed of non-human cells, the gut and skin contain trillions of these microorganisms. Most are bacteria, but yeasts and protozoa are also present.

Like any other vital organ, the gut microbiome plays a critical role in the overall health of the body. When the gastrointestinal microbiome becomes unbalanced, it can have undesired effects on the entire body, not just on our digestion and gut health. Probiotics help support our microbiome’s equilibrium and our overall well-being.

Baby crawling beneath a graphic showing bifidobacteria and lactobacilli

The Birth of Our Microbiome

Prior to birth, a baby’s intestinal tract is sterile. This means that the baby’s microbiome does not yet exist. Yet, upon passage through the birth canal, interaction with the environment, and via breastfeeding, a newborn is first exposed to bacteria including beneficial lactobacilli and bifidobacteria. This sets the foundation for a healthy gut microbiome, which plays an important role in the health, development, and protection of an infant during this critical period.

Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are two of the most common bacterial genera (plural of genus) probiotic strains belong to. The two genera are generally complementary, since most bifidobacteria reside in the colon and most lactobacilli reside in the distal small intestine. When formulated together, a probiotic product containing strains from both genera becomes a synergistic combination to support general gut and digestive health as well as immune function*

Baby crawling beneath a graphic showing bifidobacteria and lactobacilli
Silhouette of a body with an image of a forest ecosystem on the torso

The Body's Ecosystem

It’s helpful to think of the human body as a forest ecosystem. It is the collective strength of the forest and the interaction and communication of the diverse species living within its various ecological niches — such as between the mycelia of fungi and trees — that provide protection for the forest.

Forests may appear static to the unobservant, but, in fact, these ecosystems are extremely dynamic even beyond the periodic change of seasons. New dangers arise and existing species are threatened through constant changes.

The same is true of our intestinal microbiome. Just as trees are rooted in soil, connected with waterways and beyond, the microbiome is rooted to body surfaces such as the intestinal tract, which is connected to the immune, circulatory, and nervous systems, linking the rest of the body.

The human gastrointestinal tract functions optimally when there’s balance between its diverse inhabitants. When bacteria and other microorganisms that reside in our gastrointestinal tract fall out of balance, the health of the entire body can be adversely affected.

Better Gut, Better Health*

The gastrointestinal tract plays an important role in the body’s health as the principle site for interacting with the microbial world and barrier to inside the body, thus a frontline of defense. In fact, about two-thirds of the human immune system is concentrated in and around the gut.

Like the diverse species living in a forest, diversity of bacteria in the gut helps promote a more robust ecosystem that can better withstand insults and undesirable changes. When something is wrong with the gut, many of the body’s systems are affected because of this relationship. Maintaining a proper equilibrium between these various systems positively affects the health of the entire body as a whole.

Prebiotics XOS and GOS bottle

Prebiotics: Feeding the Growth of Probiotic Flora

Prebiotics are substrates that are selectively utilized by host microorganisms to confer a health benefit. Some prebiotics can act as food for various probiotics, such as non-digestible fibers and sugars, that support their growth and activity. Below is a list of prebiotic fibers used in our probiotic formulations that promote the growth of beneficial bacteria.

FOS
Inulin-FructoOligoSaccharides

A very effective prebiotic, promoting the growth of beneficial gut flora, especially bifidobacteria.*

GOS
Galactooligosaccharides

A non-digestible polysaccharide derived from one of the two sugars in milk. Increases the production of bifidobacteria and lactobacilli.*

XOS
Xylooligosaccharides

A highly sustainable prebiotic from hemicellulose containing plant matter. Xylans promote production of short-chain fatty acid metabolites: propionate, butyrate and lactate.*

MOS
MannanOligoSaccharides

Unfriendly bacteria bind to MOS (a non-digestible prebiotic) and are eventually flushed from the body.*