Microbiology is like Hollywood: a few stars get all the attention. Expand your view however and the talent pool deepens.
Well-known probiotics are usually of the lactobacillus or bifidobacterium genus while one yeast stands out– Saccharomyces boulardii, for its skill in staving off various infections.
Researchers are finding probiotic roles among others including Enterococcus, Streptococcus and Bacillus.
But coming up with a definitive guide is tough because of the daunting array of species and strains. Adding to the challenge is that probiotics add benefit in more than one way.
A recent article titled Functional mechanisms of probiotics from B.K. Bajaj and colleagues which appears in the Journal of Microbiology, Biotechnology and Food Sciences 2015 addressed the topic.
To be sure, they write that the mechanisms of benefit—job descriptions—run the gamut:
- Improvement of gut epithelial barrier function
- Immune modulation
- Toxin receptor degradation
- Competing for nutrients
- Producing substances for inhibition
- Preventing proliferation of toxins
- Blocking walls where toxins adhere
The authors write: “Effectiveness of a probiotic for potential application as prophylactic or treatment agent for certain ailment is determined by its ability to possess all or most of these characteristic features. “
We ask much of our probiotics at this early stage. In the future, it may be enough that one substance is produced; a particularly effective bacteriocin may be worth the usage. Targeted probiotics will be easier as we sort out the field.