The Physiological Relevance of the Intestinal Microbiota - Contributions to Human Health

Kelly A. Tappenden, Andrew S. Deutsch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The intestinal commensal microbiota is a dynamic mixture of essential microbes that develops under key influences of genetics, environment, diet and disease. Population profiles differ along the gastrointestinal tract, from the lumen to the mucosa, and among individuals. The total microbiota population outnumbers the cells in the human body and accounts for 35–50% of the volume of the colonic content. Key physiological functions of the commensal microbiota include protective effects exerted directly by specific bacterial species, control of epithelial cell proliferation and differentiation, production of essential mucosal nutrients, such as short-chain fatty acids and amino acids, prevention of overgrowth of pathogenic organisms, and stimulation of intestinal immunity. Oral probiotics are living microorganisms that upon ingestion in specific numbers exert health benefits beyond those of inherent basic nutrition. Emerging evidence indicates prophylactic and therapeutic utility for probiotic consumption in gastrointestinal health and disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)679S-683S
JournalJournal of the American College of Nutrition
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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