Probiotics in health maintenance and disease prevention

Altern Med Rev. 2003 May;8(2):143-55.


Probiotic microflora display numerous health benefits beyond providing basic nutritional value. They cooperatively maintain a delicate balance between the gastrointestinal tract and immune system. When this balance is disrupted, disease and inflammation result. Inflammation and over stimulation of the immune system by pathogenic bacteria are competitively inhibited by mucosal adherence of normal beneficial microflora. A healthy gastrointestinal tract with adequate mucus production and appropriate bacterial colonization prevents the overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria, modulates disease processes, and prevents widespread inflammatory disorders. The understanding of the function of probiotics in the maintenance of health and their importance in preventing disease serves to enhance the overall health of patients. With increasing understanding that beneficial microbes are required for health maintenance and disease prevention, probiotics may be commonly used as a therapeutic tool by health care practitioners in the not-too-distant future. This review presents a review of probiotics in health maintenance and disease prevention.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Digestive System / microbiology*
  • Humans
  • Preventive Medicine / methods*
  • Probiotics / therapeutic use*