Probiotics Definition by the World Health Organization

The World Health Organization probiotics definition is "live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host."

Or check out what are probiotics for a less formal probiotics definition.

The "live microorganisms" that the WHO refer to are the good bacteria in your yogurt or the Brand X supplement you bought, and "the host" is you. And the two of you are going to get along just fine because the human body is not only designed to perform whilst carrying a cargo of these little critters, but probiotics are essential for your good health.

When scientists deliberate the definition of probiotics they like to add a few more riders for a bacteria to qualify.

  • Probiotics must be identified at the genus, species and strain level, using appropriate molecular and physiological techniques.

  • The strain should be deposited in an internationally recognised culture collection so that scientists are able to replicate published research on the strain.

  • Appropriate in vitro and animal assessments must be conducted to better understand the physiological attributes of the strain. However, the choice of what assessments are used should be based on assessments that are relevant to the probiotic function in the target host. Care must be taken to not overextend conclusions from in vitro and animal tests that have not been validated and shown to have revelance in the target host.

  • Before use, the safety of the microbe must be fully considered.

  • Properly controlled studies must be conducted which document a health benefit in the target host.

  • Abilty to keep the probiotic alive at required levels in the final product through to the end of shelf life.

There are other requirements that could be asked of our probiotic - things like its ability to adhere to intestinal cells and resistance to bile and gastric juices - but these other requirements need only be met by some probiotics. If a probiotic's task is to confer a health benefit in the mouth or throat, it really doesn't matter whether they enjoy the hurricane winds that might whistle through your bowel!

My Recommended Probiotics