Brief History of Probiotics

Brief History of Probiotics


Dr. Hibberd>>So now
without any further ado, we’re not going quite back
to biblical times… It’s okay, this is
Elie Metchnikoff, who was born in
1845, died in 1916. A real visionary, won the Nobel
Prize in 1908 for his work on immunity, and he was the
first person who linked regular consumption of lactic acid
bacteria in fermented daily products to health and
longevity in Bulgarian peasants. He was so excited about this,
he actually continued to take fermented milk until
he died, but in 1907, he wrote his third
book, which was Prolongation of Life: Optimistic Studies,
in which he said, in 1907, more than a
hundred years ago, “the dependence of intestinal
microbes on the food makes it possible to adopt measures to
modify the flora in our bodies and replace harmful
microbes with useful microbes.” Quite a visionary. And then, nothing
happened until 1965, where we start to see the word
“probiotic” being used in the literature. It was probably coined as a
term probably in the 1950s, but probiotic first meant
the substances secreted by one organism which stimulate
the growth of another. And then nothing happened. For another nine years. And probiotics then changed to
be organisms and substance which contributed to
intestinal microbial balance. Then another
period of quietness. In 1989, we’re getting closer
to where we are today with probiotics. Live microbial
supplements which beneficially, whatever that means,
affect the host animal by improving its
microbial balance. And today we live by the
2001 definition which may need some tweaking, in
which live micro-organisms administered in
adequate amounts, conferring a health
benefit on the host, are the definition
of probiotics. And some people feel
very, very strongly, probiotics must be
of human origin, while others are quite willing
to consider non-human origin organisms. The common probiotics are well
known— they’re predominantly the
Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, many of them
isolated from humans, but they also include
yeast, which is not. There is an incredible
diversity of probiotics. In fact, it’s getting
hard to avoid them. And the good news is, if
you really want a probiotic, they’re in chocolate. If you don’t like chocolate,
they’re in cookies and as well as the more traditional foods,
but they’re in sauerkraut, in special teas, and
most recently in bread. I can’t get my brain around
the bread because if you cook the bread, how does
that work, but whatever. [laughter]

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