Probiotics are defined as “mono- or mixed cultures of live micro-organisms able to beneficially affect the host by improving the properties of the indigenous flora” . The indigenous intestinal microflora is a complex ecosystem which develops early in life. In adulthood, this system consists of at least 500 different bacterial species with a maximum concentration of the bacteria in the ileum and colon . More than 99% of the microorganisms in the colon are strictly anaerobic, such as bifidobacteria, peptostreptococci, Bacteroides spp., and Clostridium spp. . Intestinal microflora has several important functions for the host including the production of vitamins, degradation of bile acids, digestion of nutrients and the conversion of (pro)carcinogenic substances. In addition, the colonization of the intestine by commensal bacteria is also important for the development and functioning of the immune system . The functions of the intestinal microflora may be positively influenced by probiotics which exert a therapeutic effect through modification of the composition of indigenous intestinal microflora and its metabolic activity, prevention of overgrowth and colonization of pathogens, and stimulation of the immune system
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