What are probiotic bacteria?

Contrary to almost a hundred years of bacteria being treated as something that must be eradicated – typically with antibiotics – modern evidence has demonstrated that actually many bacteria are essential to humans and our daily functions. The combination of these bacteria, which can be found throughout the body, is referred to as the human microbiome – encompassing all manner of microbes and their genetic elements. One notable example of these tiny organisms is Lactobacillus, a genus common in the human gastrointestinal tract known to produce a lactic acid environment that inhibits growth of some harmful bacteria. There are also various strains of Bifidobacterium, which aid the decomposition of carbohydrates and proteins. Importantly, while research has confirmed many members of the microbiome do indeed aid bodily functions, additions included in probiotic foods – such as popular sweet yoghurt drinks – are yet to have their advertised benefits ratified by official bodies like the European Food Safety Authority.