The conventional use of probiotics to modulate gastrointestinal health, such as in improving lactose intolerance, increasing natural resistance to infectious diseases in the gastrointestinal tract, suppressing traveler's diarrhea, and reducing bloating, has been well investigated and documented. Most of the mechanisms reported to date are mainly caused by the suppression of pathogenic bacteria. Currently, the potential applications of probiotics are being expanded beyond alleviating gastrointestinal disorders to include benefits involving antihypertension, immunomodulation, improving serum lipid profiles, and the alleviation of postmenopausal disorders. Although they seem promising, most of these postulated benefits are based on in vitro evaluations, and the lack of in vivo evidence and/or incompatible outcomes between in vitro experiments and in vivo trials has led to inconclusive claims. This present review highlights some of the previous roles of probiotics on gut health and addresses several potential roles currently being investigated.
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