Understanding How Probiotics Help—The Benefits Are In the Details

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Clinically Speaking, What Are Probiotics and Prebiotics?

The WHO/FAO defines probiotics as live microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.1,2


The International Scientific Association of Probiotics and Prebiotics defines prebiotics as selectively fermented ingredients that result in specific changes in the composition and/or activity of the gastrointestinal microbiota, thus conferring benefit(s) upon host health.3


It all starts with the microbiome—the microorganisms, their genomes (ie, genes), and the surrounding environmental conditions.4 The microbiome has been extensively studied and plays a key role in supporting optimal health by influencing metabolism, nutrition, and gastrointestinal and immune function. Stressors like unhealthy diet, traveling, and antibiotic use can cause our microbiome to become out of balance or go into a state of dysbiosis.

HOWARU® probiotics can help normalize and influence a healthy and balanced microbiome, which can translate to many clinically documented health benefits:

IFF is investigating new areas, such as infant and early life nutrition, that are becoming more understood.

Not all Probiotics Are Alike—Keys to Selecting Quality HOWARU® Probiotics

1. Know the strain 

  • Specific benefits from probiotics are dependent on genus, species, and strain
  • In fact, any specific health benefit should be demonstrated at the strain level, as all strains are not equally beneficial
  • Learn more about why Selecting the Right Strain matters

2. Understand colony-forming units 

  • Colony-forming units (CFUs) denote the amount of live and active microorganisms in each serving
  • Amounts have been shown effective at different levels, and more is not always better
  • The CFU on the label should match that used in the clinical study to make sure the product is efficacious

3. Ensure potency extends through expiration 

  • Live probiotics can die under certain conditions over time, so it is important to recommend products with CFUs that remain viable throughout the shelf life of the product, which is indicated by the expiration date


Clinically studied strains + CFU @ clinical dose + potency guaranteed through expiration = a health benefit from probiotics you can trust and expect

Get Our Get to Know Probiotics Patient Handout


1. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and World Health Organization Working Group. Guidelines for the evaluation of probiotics in food. https://www.who.int/foodsafety/fs_management/en/probiotic_guidelines.pdf. Published May 1, 2002. Accessed March 26, 2020. 2. Hill C, Guarner F, Reid G, et al. The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics consensus statement on the scope and appropriate use of the term probiotic. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2014;11:506-514. 3. Gibson GR, Scott KP, Rastall RA, et al. Dietary prebiotics: Current status and new definition. Food Sci Technol Bull Funct Foods. 2010;7:1-19. 4. Marchesi JR, Ravel J. The vocabulary of microbiome research: a proposal. Microbiome. 2015;3:31. doi:10.1186/s40168-015-0094-5.

The Gut Microbes We Are Born With Affect Lifelong Health

Learn about cutting-edge microbiome research in our latest TED TALK focused on the benefits of probiotics and HMOs.

The information on this site is intended for healthcare professionals in the United States and is not intended for the general public.