Glossary-Probiotics Terms, Definitions & Meaning


Acidophilus (lactobacillus acidophilus) – species of gram-positive bacteria that is a homofermentative microaerophilic bacteria and a flora in the human and animal gut.


Antigens – Whenever the body identifies a substance entering it as foreign or potentially dangerous, the immune system produces an antibody to combat it. Antigens are normally proteins, but simple substances – for instance, metals – may become antigenic by combining with and changing the body’s own proteins. Such a product is called a hapten.


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Autoimmune condition – A collection of conditions in which the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues, identifying them as foreign substances. Genetic factors may play a part in this abnormal function, but the causes are not clear. The disorder may affect one organ (organspecific) or type of cell, or several (non-organspecific). Among the autoimmune disorders are Addison’s disease; autoimmune hemolytic anemia and pernicious anemia; autoimmune chronic active hepatitis; diabetes mellitus; myasthenia gravis; rheumatoid arthritis; and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE). Bacillus coagulans


Bacteria – Simple, single-celled, primitive organisms which are widely distributed throughout the world in air, water, soil, plants and animals including humans. Many are beneficial to the environment and other living organisms, but some cause harm to their hosts and can be lethal


Bacterial vaginosis (BV) – type of vaginal inflammatory disease caused by excessive over-growth and accumulation of bacteria on the vagina which leads to dysbiosis (bacteria imbalance). It is highly caused by unprotected sex or frequent douching.


Bacteriocin – proteinaceous toxins that are active against bacteria of the same strain.


Barrier effect – the enhancement of barrier protective function such as enhanced immunomodulation and competitive exclusion of potential breach to the barrier.


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Bifidobacteria / Bifidobacterium – natural/normal flora of the human body and probiotic with a symbiotic relationship with humans which is a gram positive, anaerobic, non-motile and branched rod-shaped bacterium.


Bifidobacterium bifidum – bacterial species of genus Bifidobacterium that is non-spore forming and also a probiotic that assists with rotaviral infections and diarrhea.


Bifidobacterium breve – bacterial species of genus Bifidobacterium that a probiotic like the other species but is known to ferment mannitol and sorbitol but not arabinose or xylose.


Bifidobacterium infantis – bacterial species of genus Bifidobacterium that is possibly the best known of the species due to its probiotic effect on the gut.


Bifidobacterium lactis – bacterial species of genus Bifidobacterium that is well known for its ability to neutralize gliadin which is the protein in wheat linked to celiac disease.


Bifidobacterium longum – bacterial species of genus Bifidobacterium that is catalase-negative and present in the human gastrointestinal tract as a probiotic.


Bifidogenic – also bifidogenic factor, a compound that is added to a product to increase the growth and therefore the colony population of Bifidobacterium such as methyl-N-acetyl D-glucosamine in human milk or fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS).


Biofilm – a layer of varying thickness that deposits (such as plaque of bacteria on the enamel) or is deposited on a culture plate for microscopic observation in laboratory analytical tests.


Bloating – feeling of excessive air/gas in the gut resulting from indigestion, hyperacidity in the stomach or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).


Candida albicans (C. albicans) – fungi that causes cutaneous infection of the mouth (oral thrush), groin (diaper rash), and the vagina (Candida vaginitis). It can also cause opportunistic systemic infections.


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Capsule – Capsules are solid-dosage forms that are most commonly composed of gelatin and are designed to contain a drug-containing formulation.


CFU – colony forming units – unit of measure of the number of viable (able to multiply via binary fission in controlled conditions) bacteria or fungal cells in a sample.


Cholesterol – the most important long-chained alkanols and cyclic sterols in humans


Clostridium difficile – a spore forming bacterium that is the pathogen responsible for antibiotic-associated pseudomembranous colitis (diarrhea), which can follow the use of broad spectrum antibiotics.


Colonic inertia – motility disorder of the large intestine due to slow innervation leading to slow excretion of feces.


Colonization – A visible group of bacteria growing on a solid medium, presumably arising from a single microorganism.


Commensal bacteria – The normal population of microbes that participates in the metabolism of food products, provides essential growth factors, protects against infections with highly virulent microorganisms, and stimulates the immune response.


Competitive exclusion – the competition of resources in an ecological system between inhabitants in a niche that leads to elimination of one or more of organisms in the same niche.


Constipation – A condition in which a person infrequently passes hard FAECES (stools). Patients sometimes complain of straining, a feeling of incomplete evacuation of faces, and abdominal or perianal discomfort.


Crohn’s disease – A chronic inflammatory bowel disease which has a protracted, relapsing and remitting course. An autoimmune condition, it may last for several years and affects any part of the gut.


Culture – cultivation of microbes in a media providing the necessary nutritional and environmental requirements for growth, development and colonization.


Cystitis – Inflammation of the URINARY BLADDER. The presenting symptom is usually dysuria – that is, a feeling of discomfort when urine is passed and frequently a stinging or burning pain in the URETHRA.


Cytokine – a family of protein molecules that carry signals locally between cells. Cytokines are released by cells when activated by antigens behaving as enhancing mediators for immune response. These proteins include interleukins (produced by leucocytes), lymphokines (produced by lymphocytes) interferon, and tumor necrosis factor, one of whose many functions is killing tumor cells.


Diarrhea – Diarrhoea or looseness of the bowels is increased frequency, fluidity or volume of bowel movements compared to usual more specifically up to 6 times a day.


Dietary fibre – fibre obtained from food consumed such as that from vegetables and fruits.


Digestion – the breakdown of complex food substances into simpler ones for easier and efficient absorption into the system.


Digestive enzymes – secretions of protein-made substances that catalyzes reactions in the gastro-intestinal system involving breakdown of biomolecules for proper absorption.


Diverticulosis / diverticulitis – Inflammation of diverticula in the large intestine. It is characterised by pain in the left lower side of the abdomen, which has been aptly described as ‘left-sided appendicitis’ as it resembles the pain of appendicitis but occurs in the opposite side of the abdomen. The onset is often sudden, with fever and constipation. It may, or may not, be preceded by diverticulosis which is the presence of diverticula or sacs in the large intestine. Such diverticula are not uncommon over the age of 40, increasing with age until over the age of 70 they may be present in one-third to one-half of the population.


Dysbiosis – imbalance in the balance of commensal and pathogenic microbes in the body.


Coli – Bacilli, single Gram reaction that produces Shiga-like toxin and causes diseases such as septicemia; UTIs, including hemolytic uremic syndrome; neonatal meningitis; gastroenteritis, including diarrhea and severe to fatal hemorrhagic colitis.


Eczema – Synonymous with dermatitis in all respects. Although the lay term ‘eczema’ usually refers to atopic or endogenous eczema, there are many other causes. Symptoms typically include itching, dryness or cracking and, occasionally, soreness of the skin. Physical signs include redness (erythema), scaling, and vesiculation (tiny blisters just beneath the surface of the skin).


Endogenous – Produced or arising from within a cell or organism


Enteric nervous system – neurons collectively located between the longitudinal and circular muscles (Auerbach’s plexus) and between circular layer and the mucosa (Meissner’s plexus) innervating the gastrointestinal tract.


Enterococcus faecium – a gram positive bacterium, spherical in shape that can occur in chains. It is an enterococci that takes up residence in the human intestines and are considered normal bowel flora. They are alpha hemolytic and unique in that they all grow well in 40% bile or 6.5% NaCl. Clinically, the enterococci are commonly the infecting agents in urinary tract infections, biliary tract infections (as they grow well in bile), bacteremia, and subacute bacterial endocarditis (SBE).


Enterotype – the classification of living organisms in the human gut microbiome based on the bacteriological ecosystem such as varying population of bacteroids in different population with different long-term diets.


Epithelium – layer of cells that line hollow organs and glands in the body and also on the outer surface make up one of the 4 main principle tissues of the body


Fermentation – bulk growth of micro-organisms in a growth medium or the metabolism of sugars to acid, alcohol or gases.


Free radicals – organic molecules that are responsible for aging, damage of tissue, diseases and deterrence of metabolic processes.


Fructooligosaccharides (FOS) – a type of prebiotic media that is added to culture to promote the growth of bacteria.


Fungus – A group of diverse and widespread unicellular and multicellular organisms, lacking chlorophyll, usually bearing spores and often filamentous.


Gardnerella vaginalis – bifidobacteriaceae bacterium which is gram-variable, facultative and anerobic, non-spore forming and non-motile. It is involved along other bacteria in the pathology of bacterial vaginosis.


Gastro-intestinal tract – the system ranging from the mouth to the anus in which digestion and absorptions occur.


Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) – condition whereby there is reversion of acidic content from the stomach into the esophagus commonly referred to as ‘heartburn’ but occurring for frequently.


Gastroenteritis – Inflammation of the STOMACH and intestines, usually resulting from an acute bacterial or viral infection. The main symptoms are diarrhoea and vomiting, often accompanied by fever and – especially in infants – DEHYDRATION.


Genus – a taxonomic level that classifies living and fossils occurring before the species and after family and therefore consisting of many species e.g. Bifidobacterium genus


Gut flora – commensal and potential pathogenic colonization in the digestive system.


Helicobacter pylori – gram-negative and microaerophilic bacterium found in the stomach and one of the most common causes of peptic ulcer disease.


Hormone – a substance either a protein or steroid acting a messenger produced by a tissue and transported through blood circulation to another tissue far away to elicit physiological activity e.g. insulin.


Immune system – the body’s protective mechanism against pathogenic microbes involving physical barriers and blood cells including white blood cells and signaling molecules, the cytokines.


Increased intestinal permeability – breach of the normal permeability of the intestines caused by adherence of bacteria onto the endothelium more commonly during bacterial overgrowth and resultant inflammation.


Inflammatory bowel disease (ibd) – Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are chronic inflammatory diseases characterised by relapsing and remitting episodes over many years. the diseases are similar and are both classified as ibd, but a significant distinction is that Crohn’s disease can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract from mouth to anus, whereas ulcerative colitis affects only the colon.


Intestinal failure – the general diagnosis of the intestine to function properly due to improper innervation or in its ability to absorb nutrients.


Inulin – a polymer of fructose with a molecular weight of 5200 that is found in Jerusalem artichokes (Helianthus tuberosus), extensively used to measure GFR (Glomerular Filtration Rate)


Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) – a chronic gastrointestinal disorder of unknown cause with common symptoms including abdominal cramping or pain, bloating and gassiness, and altered bowel habits. Also pastic colon, functional bowel disease, and mucous colitis.


Kefir – cultured, creamy product with probiotics prepared via fermentation of milk drink made with kefir grains composed of bacteria, yeast, lipids, sugar and proteins.


Lacidofil – probiotic product of Lactobacillus acidophilus indicated for dysbiosis of gut flora.


Lactobacilli / lactobacillus – genus with gram-positive and facultative anaerobic bacteria that are rod-shaped but non-spore forming. It has various species including casei, reuteri, lactis, etc.


Lactobacillus casei – species of Lactobacillus short facultative gram-positive anaerobic rod also a flora of the mouth and gut of human and animals.


Lactobacillus paracasei – species of Lactobacills short facultative gram-positive anaerobic rod and fermentative that is a common probiotic in probiotic preparations. It resembles L. bulgaricus in morphology.


Lactobacillus plantarum – species of Lactobacills short facultative gram-positive anaerobic rod that is known for having one of the largest genomes among the Lactobacilli and its ability to liquefy gelatin.


Lactobacillus reuteri – species of Lactobacills short facultative gram-positive anaerobic rod and fermentative and is a flora of the gut of mammals and birds.


Lactobacillus rhamnosus – short facultative gram-positive anaerobe, rod-shaped and has a chain appearance. It is indicated for dysbiosis in bacterial vaginosis.


Lactococcus lactis – bacterium which is a lactobacillale and streptococcacea in morphology, gram positive which has been extensively used in the production of milk products, cheese and butter.


LDL – low density lipoproteins that transfer lipids around the body through the extracellular compartment allowing lipids be taken up by cells.


Leaky gut syndrome – a potentially serious condition that allows penetration of bacteria, toxins and food due to increased intestinal permeability.


Live, active cultures – colonies of bacteria that are still alive and therefore viably able to multiply via binary fission.


Lyophilisation – the process of drying by freezing in a high vacuum to dehydrate and therefore preserve such as serum. It occurs by freezing then reducing the pressure to allow the frozen moisture in the material to sublimate directly from solid to gas phase.


Microbe – a microscopic living organism that may cause a disease or fermentation.


Microbiome – the collective genomes of the micro-organisms that reside in an ecological niche.


Microbiota – aggregate of micro-organisms including bacteria, fungi and archaea with commensal, symbiotic or pathogenic relationship to the host.


Microflora – the micro-organisms occurring in a particular region or part of the body that are naturally occurring or indigenous such as Clostridium difficile in the small intestines.


Mucosa – one of the layers of body tracts that consists of cells that produce and secrete mucus for protective purposes such as trapping of dust in the respiratory system or prevention corrosion by acid in the stomach.


Necrotising enterocolitis – a disease that involves death of the lining of the intestinal wall mostly occurring in premature babies or infants upon exposure to bacteria or anoxia of these cells.


Pathogenic bacteria – bacteria that can transiently or permanently colonize a living organism and cause disease.


Phylum – taxonomic class that falls between kingdom and class with reference to body structure of organisms in the same kingdom.


Prebiotics – Prebiotics provide a suitable nutritious environment for the growth of the bacteria.


Probiotics – are the non-disease causing living micro-organism that have beneficial effects and help in the prevention, treatment and management of a disease.


Prophylactic – conventional measure taken to prevent the occurrence of a condition or disease.


Proteobacteria – a group in phylum category of taxonomic classification comprising gram-negative bacteria such as Escherichia, Vibrio, etc.


Pseudomembranous colitis – inflammation of the large intestine due to an over-growth of Clostridium difficile bacteria normally frequently caused by antibiotic intake.


Psychobiotics – commensal live organisms that when delivered to your gut, help treat and manage psychiatric illnesses including depression through the brain-gut axis.


Rectum – part of the gastro-intestinal system that acts as a temporary storage of feces.


Ruminococcus – genus of bacteria in the Clostridia class which are anaerobic and gram-positive and are part of the microbial flora in human intestines.


Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth – a condition in which there’s an abnormal overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine caused by obstruction, diverticuli or neurological and muscular diseases that alter the normal function of the intestine.


Species – taxonomic category that is the basic unit of classification consisting of organisms that are able to breed among themselves but not with other species.


Starter bacteria – culture of bacteria that is of lower concentration and activity to commercial cell concentrates for inoculation of milk for bulk fermentation.


Stool – indigestible and undigested food substances that reach the colon and rectum for excretion.


Strain – a genetic variant or sub-type of a micro-organism within a species. E.g. strains of mutated or genetically engineered mice.


Strain-specificity – immune or ecological response to a particular strain of micro-organism.


Supplement – substance added to your normal diet in order to achieve the Required Daily Amounts (RDA) such as vitamin supplements.


Sutterella – this is a gram negative and anaerobic non-spore forming bacteria. It is betaproteobacteria that has been associated with the pathogenesis of Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis which are gastrointestinal infections.


Symbiotic & symbiosis – two organisms of different species living together in close association for a long time such as probiotics living in the human intestines.


Synbiotic – a combination of prebiotics and probiotics in a system and in synergy.


Thrush – characterised by the presence of white patches on the mucous membrane which bleeds if the patch is gently removed. It is caused by the growth of a parasitic mould known as Candida albicans.


Transient probiotic strain – non-resident or commensal strain of bacteria or that which is not indigenous to the gut flora ecosystem.


Triglycerides – a compound that is composed of three glycerol units linked to fatty acids acting as the storage form of fatty acids.


Ulcerative colitis – Chronic inflammation of the lining of the COLON and RECTUM.


Urinary tract infection (UTI) – inflammation due to invasion by pathogenic microbes occurring in the urinary tract such as sexually transmitted infections e.g. syphilis.


Urogenital tract – system of tracts that links and ramifies the genital and urinary organs.


Virus – An intracellular, infectious parasite capable of living and reproducing only in living cells. The term applied to a group of infective agents which are so small that they are able to pass through the pores of collodion filters.


Yeast – This consists of the cells and spores of unicellular fungi belonging to the family of Saccharomycetaceae. The main species of yeast used in medicine is Saccharomyces cerevisiae,


Yogurt starter kits – low concentrates of a blend of bacteria which consume lactose that are used in the preparation of bulk amounts of yogurt and give it its characteristic tangy taste.



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