Probiotics are a type of beneficial or live bacteria that provides various valuable benefits such as boosting the immune system and maintaining digestive health. Due to their beneficial properties, the demand is growing at a significant rate.

Probiotics are available as dietary supplements. In the food supplement, they either occur naturally or are added externally. Food supplements such as yogurt, sauerkraut, Tempeh, or kefir are widely available and consumed in large quantities globally. The rising awareness about the health benefits, cost-effective, very high coverage by the media outlet, and positive review by health experts is driving the Probiotics growth among people from different age groups and across geographies. 

What Are Probiotics?

As per the definition by the World Health Organization (WHO)/FAO (2001), Probiotics are “live microorganisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer  health benefits on the host.” Our body hosts natural bacteria (in the gut), and an imbalance in their occurrence can lead to a wide range of diseases and symptoms.  The imbalance can be due to medication, anxiety, worry, stress, poor-quality sleep, an unbalanced diet, and change in emotional & physical health. To overcome these symptoms, Probiotics are taken depending upon the types and function. Probiotics help and support the naturally occurring bacteria in the gut. However, there are many issues related to safety, quantity, quality, and effectiveness. The most commonly used Probiotics include Gram-positive bacteria, Lactobacillus, and Bifidobacterium. Similarly, the Escherichia, Enterococcus, and Saccharomyces are also widely used and marketed as Probiotics. 

Are Probiotics considered medicine?

Probiotics are not considered as medicine. Health authorities regulate Probiotics like food supplements. Companies and manufacturers do not guarantee safety and reliability like in the case of drugs. However, several studies regarding their effectiveness and harmful impact are diligently evaluated. Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Saccharomyces are the most-studied Probiotics. Similarly, studies around other Probiotics are also going on. One thing to mention is that the Probiotics studies are based on the genus, species, and specific strain. The function and benefits of Probiotics differ significantly even between the types of strain due to their unique characteristics.

What are the most common Probiotics?

Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus are the two most commonly consumed Probiotics strains. The Bifidobacteria enhance the immune system, break down lactose and fight the harmful bacteria. Similarly, Lactobacillus also breaks down lactose. Several types of food products are commercially available that provide Probiotics. Fermented food like yogurt, tempeh, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir kombucha, and miso are the most common. To cater to the rising demand, companies are actively manufacturing a wide variety of products. 

What are the benefits and side effects of Probiotics?

Probiotics are considered a safe alternative to pharmacological therapies and are also naturally occurring substances that attract people towards them. Different types of Probiotics provide different benefits depending upon the strains of the bacteria. One of the most widespread uses of Probiotics is for digestive health. Antibiotics affect the digestive tract and kill good bacteria that lead to digestive problems. People use Probiotics to replace the beneficial bacteria and to prevent conditions such as gas, diarrhea, and cramping. Imbalance and a reduction in beneficial bacteria can lead to urinary tract infections and vaginal infections, but Probiotics are beneficial for these conditions as well. Apart from digestive health, Probiotics are in use for ulcerative colitis, improving lactose tolerance, modulating immunity, lowering the serum cholesterol levels, and recurrence of bladder cancer. Similarly, various studies related to Probiotics’ benefit for colon cancer, eczema in children, skin infections, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are going on. As of now, only limited research has been conducted around Probiotics. Intensive research activities are required to evaluate the other potential benefits of Probiotics.

Probiotics are mostly beneficial, but in some cases, they can cause side effects. Probiotics can cause side effects if the person’s immune system is too weak (due to illness or medication), and also, in this case, the person has undergone some treatment. Since Probiotics are out of the preview of the drug regulatory authorities, they do not undergo the testing and approval process like in the case of pharmaceutical drugs. The person should consult the doctor or pharmacist for the intake. Similarly, dosages, reliability, safety, and their effectiveness still require in-depth study for wide-scale use. Again, the labeling and the quantity intake needed by the person remain the issue surrounding Probiotics use. 

Key Companies in the Probiotics Market

Currently, to meet the demand for Probiotics globally, some of the prominent companies and manufacturers are actively exploring the segment. At present, the key companies in the Probiotics Market include Yakult Honsha, DuPont, Nestle, BioGaia, Biosearch Life, Protexin, Greentech, Synbiotech, Ganeden, Yakult USA, Valio, Probi, Deerland Enzymes, Morinaga Milk Industry, Daflorn Probiotics, MORINAGA, Lallemand, Chr. Hansen, Danone, Novozymes, Bioriginal, Glory Biotech, Sabinsa, among others. Similarly, due to the rising demand and growing preference by the younger generation, in the coming years, several new players are expected to enter the market. With the entry of new players, the Probiotics use is also expected to spread out to new geographies and countries which are currently out of reach. 

What lies ahead 

In many countries, Probiotics are out of the regulatory framework as it is considered a dietary supplement rather than drugs. The use of Probiotics does not require the prior testing and approval process. So, the manufacturer or supplier claims about 100% effectiveness may raise concerns regarding the product. In order to bring trust among the user, some methodology must be developed to address the concerns. Despite the concerns, the demand for Probiotics is growing at a significant rate. The growing popularity of Probiotics among the younger population & health-conscious consumers is at its peak. The increase in the aging population, rising awareness about its benefits, high expenditure power, development in new technology are critical factors actively driving the Probiotics market growth globally. Similarly, a very high coverage from the health journals, magazines, medical reports, and recommendations from the health experts & fitness experts also directly influences the demand.