Consumer inclination towards probiotic foods has been stimulated due to well-documented evidence of health benefits of probiotic-containing products and consumer demand for natural products. It is assumed that the viability and metabolic activities of probiotics are essential for extending health benefits and for successful marketing of probiotics as a functional food. The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate that even dead or inactivated probiotic cells could extend health benefits, indicating that probiotic viability is not always necessary for exhibiting health benefits.
Attempt has been made to review the literature on the status of probiotic foods available in the world market, their impact on the gut flora and the various factors affecting their viability. Both review and research papers related to efficacy of inactivated, killed or dead probiotic cells towards health benefits have been considered. Keywords used for data search included efficacy of viable or killed, inactivated probiotic cells.
The reviewed literature indicated that inactivated, killed or dead probiotic cells also possess functional properties but live cells are more efficacious. All live probiotic cultures are not equally efficacious, and accordingly, dead or inactivated cells did not demonstrate functional properties to extend health benefits to all diseases.
Capability of non-viable microorganisms to confer health benefits may attract food manufacturers owing to certain advantages over live probiotics such as longer shelf-life, handling and transportation and reduced requirements for refrigerated storage and inclusion of non-bacterial, biologically active metabolites present in fermented milks’ fraction as dried powders to food matrixes may result in the development of new functional foods.
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