What is a probiotic?

probioticAlmost a century ago the Russian microbiologist Ilya Metchnikoff postulated that some bacteria are not necessarily harmful to humans and that could actually be beneficial to your health and wellness. It was first proposed intake live bacteria contained in fermented milks as a way to modulate the intestinal flora and prevent various diseases and prolong life. His research earned him the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1907.

Since then, from these first contributions, science has worked to learn more of what today are called “probiotics” that Fuller defined in 1989 as “those living microorganisms, mainly bacteria and yeasts, which are added as a supplement in diet and that benefit the host by improving its microbial balance of intestinal flora.”

These microorganisms ingested through food living manage to reach the small intestine where bacteria interact with existing microflora. Furthermore colonize the intestine and stabilize intestinal flora adhering to the intestinal mucosa to prevent the activity of harmful microorganisms. Therefore, lactic acid bacteria also have immunomodulatory properties to the extent that stimulate the production of antibodies and reinforce the immune system.

It is considered a probiotic food that meets a number of very specific requirements:

– It has to be safe and beneficial effects can be measured.

– The active microorganisms that comprise it must survive the acid environment of the stomach and the digestive process.

– The components must be able to colonize the intestine and form a protective barrier against pathogenic bacteria such as Escherichia coli, Salmonella, Staphylococcus, Candida, etc..

– It will help metabolize carbohydrates and absorb vitamins in the intestinal tract. Alter, balance and strengthen the intestinal flora while stimulating the body’s natural defenses.

– Has to induce local or systemic effects beneficial to host health, beyond the purely nutritional.

– Should reduce and prevent the risk of disease as well as improving health. These criteria are fulfilled basically foods containing lactobacilli and bifidobacteria microorganisms from the fermentation of milk which is known generically as lactic acid bacteria.

In regard to various species of lactobacilli are greatly varying properties of adherence to intestinal epithelium and its colonization patterns, ie differing widely in their probiotic properties and beneficial effects. Among the most widely used in the food industry include lactobacillus bulgaricus, acidophilus, casei, plantarum fermentum and. But besides the lactobacillus, other germs have demonstrated therapeutic potential of a few species including Saccharomyces boulardii, a yeast-, Bifidobacterium and Streptococcus thermophilus. The key is to achieve or not survive the effects of gastric juices. It is precisely at this point that scientists do not agree on what are probiotics and what not.

Regarding the importance of the activity of probiotics is true that scientists have proven beneficial effect on conditions such as diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, vaginitis, urinary tract infections, immune disorders, constipation, flu, lactose intolerance , hypercholesterolemia and food allergy, among other ailments. Properties are attributed to slow even malignant tumors in the colon if the microorganism population level is high enough, less than 10 million cells per gram of contents, to exercise its function properly. It is therefore imperative that the daily intake of probiotics is to maintain high levels in the digestive ecosystem.