Probiotics and Us: Why and What For
Making sense of the definitions
Probiotics is a composite of the Latin preposition pro (“for”) and the Greek adjective biotic which derives from the noun bios (“life”). In fact, probiotics is an approach that encourages reinforcement of friendly bacteria that are part (or were part) of the bacteria population in the body, and whose consumption provides health benefits.
What does this mean scientifically? Probiotics effectively means giving bacterial culture to animals or humans in a manner that positively affects the “host” by strengthening the friendly bacteria found naturally in the body.
Is probiotics important? Why?
The human body is a special machine in which millions of years of evolution have created a sophisticated systems to help protect it from diseases and other risks. But these systems are not always able to cope successfully with the related phenomena of our modern life.
Stress, unbalanced diet, fertilizers, synthetic and preserved materials, increased use of antibiotics and environmental pollution are only part of a long list of influences that violate the natural balance of bacterial population in our body, thus weakening it and making it more susceptible to disease.
The digestive system is directly affected by modern life ravages. Optimally there is a balance between friendly and harmful bacteria populations in the digestive system, with the “good” bacteria preventing the “bad” bacteria from sticking to the intestinal lining and survive. The problem is that modern life make it difficult for good bacteria to survive – one common conditions caused by consumption of antibiotics.
Probiotic bacteria are not strangers to the body – they are resistant to gastric and intestinal conditions and become a natural part of the bacterial population that inhabits it. Thanks to their impressive survival capabilities they increase the ability to combat harmful bacteria.
Bringing yogurt to life
The scientist Ilya Mechnikoff received the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1908 for attributing the power of maintaining health and longevity to bacteria living in yogurt. Studies conducted since then have shown that the activity of yogurt bacteria might have a beneficial effect on the immune system function in our body.
But what is actually a “living” yoghurt? While yogurt is made of pasteurized milk, once the fermentation and bacterial culture process is complete, it is not undergoing another pasteurization, which means we eat the yogurt with bacteria living in it …
The field of probiotics is both complex and interesting, and can’t be covered in one post. So I will expand further on this topic in my next post and share with you the latest research data that show how probiotic products affect our digestive system.
First Published at Strauss Blog