Faculty of Biology, University of Latvia
Hard copy: ISSN 1691–8088
On-line: ISSN 2255–9582
Acta Univ Latv (2006) 710: 117–129
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Acta Univ Latv (2006) 710: 117–129

Orginal Article

Probiotics as functional food: microbiological and medical aspects

Malda Maija Toma1*, Juris Pokrotnieks2
1Institute of Microbiology and Biotechnology, University of Latvia, Kronvalda Bulv. 4, Rīga LV-1586, Latvia
2Rīga Stradiņš University, Dzirciema 16, Rīga LV-1007, Latvia
*Corresponding author, E-mail: toma@lanet.lv


Probiotic bacteria are sold mainly in fermented foods, and dairy products play a predominant role as carriers of probiotics. Functional dairy foods are well suited to promoting the positive health image of probiotics for several reasons: (i) fermented foods and dairy products in particular, already have a positive health image by their traditional use for centuries; (ii) people are familiar with the fact that fermented food contain living microorganisms; (iii) probiotics are used as starter to join together the positive images of fermentation and probiotic cultures. Probiotics are defined as live bacterial preparations (food or medicine) with clinically documented health effects in humans. Most probiotics exert beneficial effects by modulating the mucosal barrier function and immune activity. Probiotics have specific properties and targets in the human intestinal tract and intestinal microbiota. Understanding the mechanisms by which probiotics influence the normal intestinal microflora and counteract aberrancies in microflora can facilitate the use of probiotics for dietary management and reduction in risk of specific diseases. In reference of the immune system, many studies have pointed out that not only pro- and prebiotics, but also single micronutrients incorporated into functional foods contribute to an enhancement of immunocompetence. In this article, the effect of some functional foods and ingredients such as probiotics and selenium on health and especially immune function are reviewed.

Key words: functional dairy products, functional foods, probiotics, selenium.

Acta Univ Latv (2006) 710: 117–129
 DOI: http://doi.org/10.22364/eeb

Prof. Gederts Ievinsh
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University of Latvia

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