Probiotic Features of Starter Cultures

Probiotics are live microbial food supplements that benefit the health of consumers by maintaining or improving their intestinal microbial balance (88). Species of Lactobacillus and Streptococcus have traditionally been used in fluid fermented dairy products to promote human health (89). These probiotic starters may influence the microbial ecology of the host, lactose intolerance, incidence of diarrhea, mucosal immune response, levels of cholesterol, and cancer. Besides the traditional carrier of probiotics, which is yogurt, the market share of probiotic drinks is expanding rapidly. The most common probiotic strains are lactobacilli. A number of them are now being successfully commercialized, such as Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (90). Lb. casei Shirota (91) and L. acidophilus LA-1 (92). The scientific basis of these strains in relation to their proposed positive effects on the human health is quite extensive; however, most of the evidence is obtained from diseased human populations. Evidence for probiotic claims in healthy populations still has a weak basis.

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