Five things you didn’t know about the microbiome and probiotics

In the intestinal tract live about 100,000 billion (1014) microorganisms of which about 90% are bacteria but also archaea, fungi, algae, protists and viruses. An enormously diverse society, therefore, about which there is still much to read and learn. For example, did you know that more than 100 health benefits are attributed to probiotics?

In this article you will find 5 interesting facts, do you already know them?

Microorganisms live everywhere 

The gut microbiome is the body’s most well-known and largest microbiome, but a large number of microorganisms are also present in other places, such as the skin, mouth and vagina. Recent research even shows that a microbiome can be found in the gallbladder.

Number of cells is underestimated 

Colony-forming units (CFU) represents the amount of bacterial germs contained in the product. KVE is measured by counting how many bacterial colonies become visible after culturing the product. In theory, one KVE is equivalent to a single bacterial cell germinating into one colony. In practice, however, we see that most bacteria require several bacterial cells to form a colony. Thus, the total amount of bacterial cells is often underestimated when KVE is used as the unit of measurement.

Probiotic manufacturers are no longer allowed to call bacterial products “probiotics” and no longer allowed to mention health benefits of probiotics as of 2021?

Manufacturers may therefore be adding herbs, vitamins or minerals to probiotics. This allows them to make health claims that otherwise would not be allowed. We only recommend herbs, vitamins and minerals when this actually adds value to the product. So in the case of probiotics, this is usually not the case.


Bifidobacteria supplements in a capsule 

The composition of the microbiome changes throughout life. In the elderly, the amount of bifidobacteria in particular declines. Bifidobacteria are less resistant to stomach acid than many other probiotic bacteria. Therefore, the elderly may benefit from additional bifidobacteria administered in the form of a delayed-release capsule.

One of the most often cited figures when it comes to the microbiome is that there are about 10 times more bacterial cells in and on the human body than the total number of cells of the human body itself. However, newer research shows that a ratio of about 1:1 is closer to the truth. Researchers are doing a tremendous amount of research on bacteria. For example, some bacteria are extra good for our health.


  1. Molinero N, Ruiz L, Milani C, Gutiérrez-Díaz I, Sánchez B, Mangifesta M, e.a. The human gallbladder microbiome is related to the physiological state and the biliary metabolic profile. Microbiome. 4 juli 2019;7(1):100. 
  2. Kang M-S, Kim Y-S, Lee H-C, Lim H-S, Oh J-S. Comparison of Temperature and Additives Affecting the Stability of the Probiotic Weissella cibaria. Chonnam Med J. 1 december 2012;48(3):159–63. 
  3. Kurtmann L, Carlsen CU, Risbo J, Skibsted LH. Storage stability of freeze–dried Lactobacillus acidophilus (La-5) in relation to water activity and presence of oxygen and ascorbate. Cryobiology. 1 april 2009;58(2):175–80. 
  4. Ying D, Sanguansri L, Weerakkody R, Singh TK, Leischtfeld SF, Gantenbein-Demarchi C, e.a. Tocopherol and Ascorbate Have Contrasting Effects on the Viability of Microencapsulated Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG. J Agric Food Chem. 12 oktober 2011;59(19):10556–63. 
  5. Toscano M, Grandi RD, Pastorelli L, Vecchi M, Drago L. A consumer’s guide for probiotics: 10 golden rules for a correct use. Dig Liver Dis. 1 november 2017;49(11):1177–84. 
  6. Sender R, Fuchs S, Milo R. Revised Estimates for the Number of Human and Bacteria Cells in the Body. PLOS Biol. 19 augustus 2016;14(8):e1002533. 

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