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” when they have been demonstrated, through various scientific studies and clinical trials, to confer health benefits and healthy bowel function in humans and/or animals.

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. Probiotics help restore 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 gut microbiome does not yet exist. Yet, upon passage through the birth canal and via breastfeeding, a newborn is first exposed to beneficial bacteria (Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria, respectively). This sets the foundation for a healthy microbiome in the gut – an organ that develops quickly in the first days and months after birth.

Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria are two of the most common genera (plural of genus) found in probiotic products. The two genera are generally complementary, since most Bifidobacteria reside in the colon, and most Lactobacilli reside in the upper small intestine. When formulated together, a probiotic product containing strains from both genera becomes a potent combination for gut health by addressing gastrointestinal needs in both the upper and lower intestine, in addition to overall immune health.*

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 it — 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 the intestinal wall, which is connected to the immune system and the rest of the body.

The human gastrointestinal tract functions optimally when there’s balance between its diverse elements. 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 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 respond to 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 act as food for probiotics and are non-digestible fibers and sugar that support probiotic growth. 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.*