A-Z Gut Glossary of Probiotic Terms

Typically no knows what all the acronyms or phrases mean. With so many new terms becoming abundant within this market, it is hard to keep abreast of the latest phrases and acronyms, so for your convenience, we have listed the main ones here in our A to Z Gut Glossary to reduce the techno-babble and help clarify what it all means.



Acidophilus – a bacterium that is used to make yoghurt and to supplement the intestinal flora.

Antibiotics – a medicine (such as penicillin or its derivatives) that inhibits the growth of or destroys microorganisms

Archaea – are microorganisms which are similar to bacteria in size and simplicity of structure but radically different in the molecular organisation. They are now believed to constitute an ancient group which is intermediate between the bacteria and eukaryotes Archaea are obligate anaerobes living in environments low in oxygen (e.g., water, soil).

Asthma – a respiratory condition marked by attacks of spasm in the bronchi of the lungs, causing difficulty in breathing. It is usually connected to allergic reaction or other forms of hypersensitivity.



Bifidobacteria – is a genus of gram-positive, non-motile, often branched anaerobic bacteria. They are ubiquitous inhabitants of the gastrointestinal tract, vagina and mouth of mammals, including humans. Bifidobacteria are one of the major genera of bacteria that make up the gastrointestinal tract microbiota in mammals.



Clostridium Difficile – also known as Cdifficile or C. diff, is bacteria that can infect the bowel and cause diarrhoea. The infection most commonly affects people who have recently been treated with antibiotics. It can spread easily to others.

Cognitive Function – is a term referring to a human’s ability to process thoughts that should not deplete on a large scale in healthy individuals. It is defined as “the ability of an individual to perform the various mental activities most closely associated with learning and problem-solving.

Colic – is the severe pain in the abdomen caused by wind or obstruction in the intestines and suffered especially by babies.



Digestive Wellness – The system of organs responsible for getting food into and out of the body and for making use of food to keep the body healthy.

Dysbiosis – also called dysbacteriosis, is a term for a microbial imbalance or maladaptation on or inside the body, such as an impaired microbiota.



Eczema – a medical condition in which patches of skin become rough and inflamed with blisters which cause itching and bleeding.

Enterococcus Faecalis – is a gram-positive bacterium belonging to the lactic acid bacteria group. 2. It can cause serious health problems. The bacteria can cause many serious health ailments, including urinary tract infections, endocarditis (an infection in the inner lining of the heart) and wound infections.



Friendly Bacteria – also known as beneficial bacteria, are defined as any bacteria that are beneficial to the body and enhance health. One of the most well-known types of good bacteria is probiotics. Many of these bacteria reside in our gut, helping our body break down food and absorb nutrients.



Gastro-Intestinal Health – referring collectively to the stomach and small and large intestines. The commonly used abbreviation for gastrointestinal is GI.

Gut-Friendly – refers mainly to foods and that most people eat less than they should. Fruit, vegetables, pulses, nuts and whole grains feed healthy bacteria. Avoiding highly processed foods which do not constitute being gut-friendly as they often contain ingredients that either suppress ‘good’ bacteria or increase ‘bad’ bacteria.



Hay Fever – see Rhinitis.

Healthy Gut – comprises a healthy upper and lower GI tract, although the term might suggest that it is restricted to the lower GI tract. A healthy gut has a diverse community of microbes, each of which prefers different foods.



IBS – is short for irritable bowel syndrome. A widespread condition involving recurrent abdominal pain and diarrhoea or constipation, often associated with stress, depression, anxiety, or previous intestinal infection.

Immunity – the ability of an organism to resist a particular infection or toxin by the action of specific antibodies or sensitized white blood cells.

Infectious diseases – are caused by pathogens, which include bacteria, fungi, protozoa, worms, viruses, and even infectious proteins called prions. Pathogens of all classes must have mechanisms for entering their host and for evading immediate destruction by the host immune system. Most bacteria are not pathogenic.



Lactobacillus – a rod-shaped bacterium which produces lactic acid from the fermentation of carbohydrates.



Microbiome – is a vast army of microbes that protect us against germs, break down foods to release energy, and produce vitamins to keep us healthy.

Microbiota – the gut microbiota is with humans from birth and affects function throughout the body. The human microbiota consists of a wide variety of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other single-celled animals that live in the body. The microbiome is the name given to all of the genes inside these microbial cells.



Osteomalacia – is the softening of the bones, typically through a deficiency of vitamin D or calcium.



Pathogenic Bacteria – are bacteria that cause disease. See also Infectious diseases.

Prebiotics – are compounds in food that induce the growth or activity of beneficial microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi. The most common example is in the gastrointestinal tract, where prebiotics can alter the composition of organisms in the gut microbiome.

Probiotics – are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for you, especially for your digestive system. We usually think of these as germs that cause diseases, but your body is full of bacteria, good and bad. Probiotics are often called “good” or “helpful” bacteria because they help keep your gut healthy. You can find probiotics in supplements such as tablets, powder and some foods, like yoghurt.

Probiotic Supplements – most probiotics are sold as dietary supplements, which do not undergo the testing and approval process that drugs do. Manufacturers are responsible for making sure they are safe before they are marketed and that any claims made on the label are true. But there is no guarantee that the types of bacteria listed on a label are effective for the condition you are taking them for. Health benefits are strain-specific, and not all strains are necessarily useful, so you may want to consult a practitioner familiar with probiotics to discuss your options



Rhinitis – inflammation of the mucous membrane of the nose, caused by a virus infection (e.g. the common cold) or by an allergic reaction (e.g. hay fever).



Symbiotics – refers to any diverse organisms that live together in a way that benefits them all.



Vaginal Flora – also known as vaginal microbiota are the microorganisms that colonize the vagina. The amount and type of bacteria present have significant implications for a woman’s overall health.

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