Fermented foods – foods that contain probiotics - exist around the world. But have you ever wondered about how probiotic supplements came to be? Or some of the startling advances currently being research for future probiotic supplement?
Yoghurt is thought to have resulted from the storage of milk in animal-based containers
- Probiotic comes from the Latin word, which means for life.
- The ancient Roman naturalist, Pliny the Elder, prescribed fermented milk for intestinal problems.
- Yoghurt most likely resulted from the fermentation of milk carried in animal skin bags in the Middle East.
- The19th-century scientist Nobel Prize-winner, Ilya Ilyich Metchnikoff, studied villagers in Bulgaria in the late 1800s. Despite extreme poverty, many lived over the age of 100. He concluded that part of the reason might be the beneficial bacteria found in their daily yoghurt drink. The bacteria that isolated was named Lactobacillus bulgaricus.
- At the time, most other microbiologists were researching disease-causing microbes rather than probiotics.
- Research into probiotics investigating the gut microbiome – the community of microbes that inhabit the GI tract – began in earnest in the 1990s.
- Scientists increasingly learnt more about the way dietary microbes interact with the body.
- In 2001, the World Health Organization issued a formal definition of probiotics, kick-starting even more research.
- New microbial strains are being identified
- Enhanced survival through the gut is aided by encapsulating against stomach acid.
- Strains that survive stomach acid have been isolated.
- Prebiotics are added to supplements to feed probiotics and promote other good gut microbes.
- ·Genetic engineering of probiotics is creating enhanced probiotics that break down particular toxins associated with alcohol consumption and other dietary factors (e.g. dairy and bread).
- New probiotics are being engineered and tested to ensure they are useful in providing a wide range of specific health benefits