The probiotic research conducted over the past 20 years has resulted in a valuable source of data related to health beneficial effects of probiotics. Nevertheless, documentation of probiotic benefits remains challenging, especially in functional foods that are designed for the generally healthy population that, however, regularly experiences episodes of 'suboptimal' health. In addition, in view of today's application of probiotics in an increasing variety of food matrixes, process optimization and product design need to take into account cell viability and probiotic function altogether. To meet this challenge, medium to high-throughput bioassays - based on the identification of active compounds and their mechanism of action - have to be developed and their predictive value established. Together with validated biomarkers for health and disease, this should help rationalize probiotic product development and associated health claim substantiation in human studies.
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