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May 18, 2022 3 min read

What Are Probiotics?

Probiotics essentially are the good bacteria found naturally in our body, especially in the digestive system. Their sole job is to keep you feeling well and to maintain a healthy balance in your body. 

When you get sick or contract an infection, the presence of harmful bacteria increases in your body, knocking your body’s system out of balance.

To stop the infection and return to a healthy balance, the good bacteria/Probiotic in your body essentially fight off the harmful bacteria until your body reaches equilibrium or a state of neutrality in which the good bacteria and harmful bacteria are near equal, preventing the sickness to reappear.

Then, you feel better!

 

How Long Have Probiotics BeenIn Use?

In the early 20th century, a Russian zoologist by the name ofÉlie Metchnikoff discovered probiotics for the first time.

 

It was during Metchnikoff’s travels in Bulgaria and the Caucasus mountains that he stumbled upon the presence of what we call probiotics.

 

He noticed that the villagers and inhabitants of these regions lived in far more brutal and rough climates than urbanized cities across Europe at the time and they lacked medical facilities as well. 

However, the inhabitants of these regions were living significantly healthier than expected and many were living past the age of 100 years old, something which was a rarity to see in the urbanized cities of Europe at the time.  

Metchnikoff concluded that this extraordinary health exhibited by these people was strongly linked to their lifestyle, which included a high content of fermented foods such as yogurt.

Metchnikoff was not wrong.

Many think probiotics started with Metchnikoff; however, probiotics have been in use for thousands of years, going as far back as the days of ancient Rome for example.

A famous naturalist of ancient Rome by the name of Pliny the Elder often would prescribe fermented milk to anyone who had any stomach-related problem/illness. 

At the time, it was not known why fermented foods such as yogurt, beer, wine, and kefir were so good at alleviating most stomach-related illnesses.

 

This is because fermented foods are very rich in probiotics, which in turn helped those people fight off the excess harmful bacteria, putting their illness at bay.

Due toall of these benefits, fermented foods had been well incorporated into the diets of many of these people, even being a staple in some of their cultures.

 

What Are Probiotics Used For? 

Well, the primary use of probiotics is to simply introduce our body to good, healthy bacteria. 

Whenever we consume food, whether it is healthy or not, we may sometimes be introducing our bodies to harmful bacteria present in the food.

When harmful bacteria enter your body, they will multiply at an astonishing rate, causing issues to rise in the digestive system, particularly within the intestinal tract. 

Such problems usually result in digestion being incomplete or being unable to pass stool, or excessive gassiness, which in severe cases may require an individual to go to a hospital.

This can happen to both adults and infants as it is not restricted to any group of individuals.

By taking probiotics at this stage, you are now introducing good bacteria into the body. These good bacteria will rectify the imbalance caused by the harmful bacteria by attacking them.

As the harmful bacteria are being attacked, they are slowly being replaced by the good bacteria. As a result, the tummy discomfort begins to leave.

 Once the harmful bacteria have been fully contained and the body goes back to its neutral state, the tummy discomfort such as gassiness, constipation, or difficulty in passing stool will more than likely all pass away.

 

References:

 

“History and Development of Probiotics.”History of Probiotics, International Probiotics Association,https://internationalprobiotics.org/resources/history/

 

“Probiotics: What Is It, Benefits, Side Effects, Food & Types.”Probiotics, Cleveland Clinic, 2020,https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/14598-probiotics

 

Scogna, Kathleen.Probiotics for Babies, BabyCenter,https://www.babycenter.com/health/supplements-and-home-remedies/probiotics-for-babies_20000896#:~:text=Bifidobacterium%20lactis%2C%20Lactobacillus%20reuteri%2C%20and,to%20establish%20enough%20good%20bacteria

 

Wang,Yisong, and David Shurtleff. “Probiotics: What You Need to Know.”National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2019,https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/probiotics-what-you-need-to-know#:~:text=Probiotics%20are%20live%20microorganisms%20that,dietary%20supplements%2C%20and%20beauty%20products

 

“What Are Probiotics? Probiotic Supplements, Foods, Uses, Benefits, and Safety.”WebMD, WebMD, 2020,https://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/what-are-probiotics

 



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