Probiotics in Human History 

 

The history of probiotics goes in parallel with the evolution of human race and, thanks to the sophisticated techniques, can be traced back to the ancient times, nearly 8,000 years ago.

Legend has it more than 8000 years ago the Thracian people of the Balkans discovered a new method for fermentation  preserving the milk from spoiling. They isolated lactobacilli (now known as Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus)  from the green plants growing in abundance in that geographical area and cultivated them. The plant lactobacilli produced  the enzyme lactase that breaks down the lactose in the milk. This new technology has made it possible for people to eat milk and milk products throughout their entire life. 

Probiotic, a word derived from Latin, means 'for life'. A long time before the awareness of probiotic microorganisms, fermented products, such as beer, bread, wine, kefir, kumis and cheese were frequently used for nutritional and therapeutic purposes. 

The Process of Lactic Fermentation

Lactic fermentation is a bacterial process that takes place during the production of numerous food products. It provides the final products with characteristic aromas and textures and plays a crucial role in food safety and hygiene. Among the bacteria responsible for lactic fermentation are lactic acid bacteria, which display high morphological and physiological diversity. The term lactic acid bacteria emerged at the beginning of the twentieth century to describe a heterogeneous group of bacteria that are currently defined as spherical (cocci) or rod-shaped (bacilli), gram-positive, catalase-negative, immobile, nonsporulating, anaerobic, aerotolerant, and producers of lactic acid (the main metabolite generated during the fermentation of sugars by these bacteria).

For thousands of years microbial cultures have been used to ferment foods and prepare different kind of products. Unstable primary foods such milk, meat and vegetables can be conserved for relatively long periods of time (Table 1), maintaining their nutritious and caloric value by the use of lactic acid fermentation. Several traditional soured milks such as kefir, koumis, leben and others were used as foods and often therapeutically, before the existence of the actual knowledge on probiotics. The origins of cultured dairy products can be traced in the Bíble and the sacred books of Hinduism. Metchnikoff at the beginning of the XX century proposed the beneficial effects of the lactic acid bacteria (LAB) on health and longevity. R

Human Microbiome 

Our bodies are home to more than 100 trillion microorganisms - bacterias, viruses and fungi. They inhabit every part of our body, including  parts that though to be sterile. Together they make up the Human Microbiome. this means that the bacteria in your body outnumber your body’s cells 10 to 1! We are more bacteria than you are human”. The majority of these bacteria reside in the gut. There are roughly 70% “good” or healthy bacteria, and 30% “bad” bacteria. Most of the gut flora is found in the colon, or large intestine, the last part of the digestive tract.

The gut flora performs a variety of functions that are important for health. In fact, 70% of our immune cells are located in the digestive tract, making the health of the digestive tract critical to overall health. A healthy and well-balanced gut flora facilitates digestion, protects us from pathogens, provides vitamins and nutrients and helps form the immune system.

The modern Medicine is now facing the challenging task to Determining the normal microscopic inhabitants of every organ and knowing how to restore the proper balance of organisms when it is disrupted. R

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