The World Health Organization defines probiotics as “live microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.” Pro is a Latin preposition meaning “for” and biotikos is a Greek word meaning “life”. Probiotics literally mean microscopic creatures, or a healthy army, “for life”. They’re the most beneficial little microbes within our system that ward off infection, fight obesity, lessen the reaction to the environment (allergies, sickness, bacteria), resolve constipation, and even improve overall health and functioning.
A Brief History of Probiotics
Probiotics are estimated to be one of, if not the, oldest living organism on the planet. Probiotics have evolved over time, check out this brief history for yourself.
- 3000 BC – Probiotics were first discovered when fermented milk products were pictured in Egyptian hieroglyphs1
- 300 BC – Fermented yak milk traditionally used by Tibetan nomads to preserve milk during treks1
- 1800s – Louis Pasteur identified bacteria & yeasts responsible for the process of fermentation, but didn’t link microbes to any apparent health effects.2
- 1905 – Élie Metchnikoff, a Russian scientist born in the mid-1800s, developed a theory about the influence of health as influenced by the bacteria in the gastrointestinal system (GI). He was credited with making the connection between the longevity of Bulgarians and the lactobacilli used to ferment the yogurt due to its presence in the colon.3 This could be also the first incidence of when probiotics were actually discovered.
- 1906 - Scientist Henry Tissier isolated Bifidobacterium from an infant and claimed it could replace bad bacteria in the gut with good bacteria.4
- 1922 – First recorded human study of Lactobacillus acidophilus in 30 human patients that aimed to, and did improve, conditions such as chronic diarrhea, constipation, and/or eczema.5
- 1932 – First scientific study that confirmed the positive effects of L. acidophilus in patients with mental diseases and chronic constipation.6
By the 1930s, yogurt was the best way for individuals to regularly consume probiotics. L. acidophilus was being added to milk because it’s the most prominent probiotic bacteria to colonize within the human colon (this is a positive thing). Nowadays, between yogurt, fermented foods, and supplementation, the access to probiotics is vast.
Yet most individuals, due to poor nutritional habits and poor diets, still lack sufficient amounts of probiotics within their natural gut biome. While human probiotic testing is still ongoing, there’s emerging research linking poor overall health status to a poor gut microbiome.7
Are Probiotics Good Or Bad For You?
As mentioned briefly above, probiotics are known as the good bacteria that live in our system to stay healthy and germ-free. Probiotics are beneficial microorganisms that regulate countless body functions, mainly within the digestive system and the immune system. They help reduce the presence of pathogens that manifest disease while regulating the removal of wastes from the body. There’s a variety of ways to both lose and replenish the probiotics, or the good bacteria, within our system. So, yes probiotics are actually really really good for you.
What Are The Causes Of An Unhealthy Gut Microbiome
There are a variety of reasons why we have low healthy gut flora or a low presence of probiotics in the gut. One reason is that we don’t consume enough probiotics within our diet, whether through food sources or supplements. While supplements are never meant to replace a healthful diet, and cannot out supplement a poor diet, supplements can help bridge the gaps in our nutrition so that we can increase the chances of attaining and maintaining a healthy gut flora.
We lose probiotics or lose beneficial microbes, when we get sick and when we take pharmaceutical medications (antibiotics/antifungals). When your gut flora has reduced an influx of bad bacteria is present while there aren’t enough good bacteria (probiotics) to fight them off. If you don’t have enough good bacteria, the bad bacteria army grows, seizing and taking over various areas of your immune system and digestive tract, which leads to sickness and disease growth. If you have a poor diet, the poor nutrient quality foods you consume can actually kill or injure probiotics, leaving your body open to ailments, injury, and bacteria.
While there are adverse effects of not having enough probiotics within your system, it’s important to note that probiotics are not intended to treat or cure any diseases, physical or mental. Instead, probiotics from food and probiotic supplements are intended to be used as a compliment to a healthy life and nutritious lifestyle. This means regularly consuming a healthful diet full of variety, getting quality sleep every night, exercising regularly, having a strong social community, regularly hydrating (read more on hydration here), and reduced exposure to toxins (harmful chemicals).
How To Improve Gut Health
Believe it or not, probiotics are a great way to give your body the fuel and nutrients it needs to improve your overall health and heal your gut naturally. Chances are you aren’t getting enough probiotics through your diet, which is why supplementation, aka bridging the gaps in your nutrition, can be a big key to your health and wellness improvement success story. (READ MORE on how to improve digestive health)
Yes, it is true that microbes can harm the body, but not all are bad. Probiotics are considered to be good bacteria and the better bacteria our body has the better it functions. Chances are though you’re not taking a high-quality probiotic supplement or a therapeutic grade probiotic. In that case, it might be time to throw out your probiotics and upgrade them to a new probiotic capsule, like this one.
If you want more information on the different types of probiotics to look for in a supplement, you can continue reading this article: Different Probiotic Strains and Benefits
Alas, if you are going to toss your current probiotic supplement or are looking for a new one to try, we recommend supplementing with PROBIOTIX. The reason? In just one veggie capsule it contains 5.75 billion organisms (CFUs) consisting of 7 main strains of probiotics. Supplementing with probiotics can be the missing key to your health goals as compared to just receiving them alone from food. Get the nutrients you need to power your active lifestyle with PROBIOTIX from SWOLVERINE.
- Guo X Long R Kreuzer Met al. Importance of functional ingredients in yak milk-derived food on health of Tibetan nomads under high-altitude: a review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr 2014; 54:292–
- Barnett JA. A history of research on yeasts 2: Louis Pasteur and his contemporaries, 1850–1880.Yeast 2000; 16:755–71.
- Metchnikoff E. Chapter V. Lactic acid as inhibiting intestinal putrefaction. In: The prolongation of life. Optimistic studies. New York, London:P. Putnam's Sons, 1908:161–83.
- Tissier H. Treatment of intestinal infections using bacterial flora of the intestine [in French]. Crit Rev Soc Biol 1906; 60:359–61.
- Rettger LF Cheplin HA. Bacillus acidophilusand its therapeutic application. Arch Intern Med 1922; 29:357–67.
- Kopeloff N Blackman N McGinn B. The incidence of Lactobacillus acidophilusin adults. J Infect Dis 1932; 50:426–9.
- Sanders ME, Guarner F, Guerrant R, et al An update on the use and investigation of probiotics in health and disease Gut 2013;62:787-796.
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