In the beginning of the 20th century, Russian scientist and Nobel laureate Eli Metchnikoff observed that particular bacteria would play a positive role. He further asserted, based on his research, that the intestinal microbiota (commonly known as gut flora) of animals that are consumed by humans, could be altered to replace detrimental microbes with beneficial microbes.
Metchnikoff stated that there are toxic substances such as phenols, indols and ammonia that are naturally present in gut flora. As a case in point, Metchnikoff observed the rural populations in Bulgaria where the population consumed a great quantity of milk fermented by lactic0acid bacteria.
This population was remarkably long-lived. Metchnikoff was so impressed with this finding that he added sour milk fermented with the bacteria he called “Bulgarian Bacillus” and discovered an improvement to his overall health.
Scientist Henry Tissier of the Pasteur Institute also made a correlation between the health benefits of probiotics in humans. Bifidobacteria was first identified from an infant who had been breast-fed. This bacteria was present in the gut flora of breast-fed babies and had the benefits of displacement of protolytic bacteria causing diarrhea.
In 1953 in the United States, research and study of the role of probiotics continued with promising results. Certain strands of Lactobacillus acidophilus when implanted in the human digestive tract had success during clinical trials.
This probiotic alleviated chronic constipation in trial participants. Other clinical studies have supported the benefits of probiotics. In 2007, a clinical study at Imperial College London had impressive results.
Study participants who consumed a probiotic drink containing L casei DN-114001, L. bularicus and S thermophilus reduced the occurrence of diarrhea associated with antibiotic use as well as C-difficile-associated diarrhea.
Research continues as we learn more about the role of bacteria’s role in alleviating illness as well as its role in the improvement of overall health, including weight loss.