Lactic Acid Bacteria as Promoters of Human Health

  • Mary Ellen Sanders


Great interest in the healthful effects of lactic acid bacteria exists in the research, commercial, and consuming communities. The designation “lactic acid bacteria” applies to a functional grouping of non-pathogenic, gram positive bacteria that have lactic acid as a primary metabolic end-product and are traditionally used in food fermentations. These bacteria include species of Lactococcus, Lactobacillus, Streptococcus, Leuconostoc, and Pediococcus. Bifidobacterium and Enterococcus species are also included in this group when addressing issues related to bacterial inoculants for health promotion. For some health-promoting applications, lactic acid bacteria of intestinal origin are specifically targeted. These include Lactobacillus species of intestinal origin, all species of Bifidobacterium, and Enterococcus faecalis. Research is sometimes conducted on the bacterial strains themselves, or sometimes on the food products that harbor these bacteria. Normally, the food products tested are milk products, including fermented milks such as yogurt and buttermilk, and unfermented milks with culture added. Recent reviews have been published covering this field in general (AIm 1991; Goldin 1989, 1990; Gorbach 1989, 1990; Bourlioux and Pochart 1988; de Simone et al. 1989; Fernandes, Shahani, and Amer 1987; Friend and Shahani 1984; Fuller 1991; Gurr 1984; Kim 1988; Kroger, Kurmann, and Rasic 1989; Lemonnier 1984; Rasic 1983; Renner 1991; Sellars 1989, 1991) or specifically focusing on lactose intolerance (Savaiano and Kotz 1988; Savaiano and Levitt 1987), gastrointestinal microbiology (Bianchi-Salvadori 1986; Brown 1977; Gorbach 1971, 1986; Savage 1977, 1983a, b; Tannock 1983, 1984, 1990), antimicrobial activities (Fernandes and Shahani 1989), anticarcinogenic properties (Fernandes and Shahani 1990), vaginal health (Redondo-Lopez, Cook, and Sobel 1990), Bifidobacteria (Bezkorovainy and Miller-Catchpole 1989; Hughes and Hoover 1991; Kurmann and Rasic 1991; Laroia and Martin 1990; Misra and Kuila 1991; Mitsuoka 1989, 1990; Modler, McKellar, and Yaguchi 1990; Poupard, Husain, and Norris 1973; Rasic and Kurmann 1983), L. acidophilus (Fonden 1989; Truslow 1986), and strain selection for dietary adjuncts (Gorbach and Goldin 1989; Klaenhammer 1982).


Lactic Acid Bacterium Food Component Fermented Milk Health Functionality Lactobacillus Acidophilus 
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