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More About Probiotics


Probiotics are under considerable research, as the concept holds promise for human health and well-being, and corresponding commercial opportunities.


Most probiotic strains belong to the genus Lactobacillus, also called Lactic acid bacteria; Wikipedia


Editor’s Note: We’re adding more pieces on probiotics, to the ON TARGET, newsletter recently, because not only have we read a great deal about probiotics research (and prebiotics), but have been taking a brand of live bacteria, recommended by a friend at Harvard Medical School, over 5 years ago, called Ultimate Flora. I can’t prove that this product is the reason for unbelievably good health, but for those whom we have suggested this product, well, their health has improved also.


Warning: we are not medical doctors and if you are interested in trying a probiotic product, ask your own doctor first. However, most doctors (even the brilliant ones) don’t know much about probiotics, so are reluctant to recommend them. We have no ulterior motive like monetary compensation etc. for mentioning the brand, Ultimate Flora. This was the brand recommended and this is the only brand, that we know of, that must be kept in the refrigerator. The live bacteria can be sustained for the shipping period, but once received, refrigerate right away. We get our supply on Amazon, where various strengths are available.



A consensus definition of the term “probiotics“, based on the available information and scientific evidence, was adopted after a joint Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations and World Health Organization (WHO) expert consultation. In October 2001, this expert consultation defined probiotics as: “live micro-organisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.“ Probiotics are healthy bacteria, not just in supplements and capsules but also in 1) ___. The Harvard Health Letter ran an informative article about them in the May 2005 issue, which states that “a growing body of evidence suggests that you can treat and even prevent some illnesses with foods and supplements containing certain kinds of live bacteria.“ They go on to say that “The strains most often found in probiotic supplements and foods like yogurt are lactic acid bacteria belonging to the genera, Lactobacillus and genera Bifidobacterium


The term probiotic is currently used to name ingested 2) ___associated with beneficial effects to humans and other animals. A significant expansion of the potential market for probiotics has led to higher requirements for scientific substantiation of putative beneficial effects conferred by the microorganisms. Commonly claimed benefits of probiotics include the decrease of potentially pathogenic gastro-intestinal microorganisms; the reduction of gastro-intestinal discomfort; the strengthening of the immune 3) ___system; the improvement of the skin’s function; the improvement of bowel regularity; the strengthening of the resistance to cedar pollen allergens; the decrease in body pathogens; the reduction of flatulence and bloating; the protection of DNA; the protection of proteins and lipids from oxidative damage; and the maintaining of individual intestinal microbiota in subjects receiving antibiotic treatment.


The history of probiotics can be traced back to the first use of cheese and fermented products, that were well known to the Greeks and Romans who recommended their consumption. The fermentation of dairy foods represents one of the oldest techniques for food 4) ___. Bifidobacteria were first isolated from a breast-fed infant by Henry Tissier, in the early 20th century, who also worked at the Pasteur Institute. The isolated bacterium named Bacillus bifidus communis was later renamed to the genus Bifidobacterium. Tissier found that bifidobacteria are dominant in the gut flora of 5) ___-fed babies and he observed clinical benefits from treating diarrhea in infants with bifidobacteria. The claimed effect was bifidobacterial displacement of proteolytic bacteria causing the disease. In 1917, when there was an outbreak of shigellosis, a strain of Escherichia coli was isolated from the feces of a soldier who was not affected by the disease. Methods of treating infectious diseases were needed at that time when 6) ___ were not yet available. This Escherichia coli strain was used in cases of in acute gastrointestinal infectious, salmonellosis and shigellosis. In 1920, Rettger and Cheplin conducted experiments involving rats and humans volunteers, by feeding them with Lactobacilus acidophilus. They observed changes in composition of fecal microbiota, which they described as “transformation of the intestinal flora“. Rettger further explored the possibilities of Lactobacilus acidophilus and reasoned that bacteria originating from the gut were more likely to produce the desired effect in this environment. In 1935 certain strains of Lactobacillus acidophilus were found to be very active when implanted in the human digestive 7) ___. Trials were carried out using this organism, and encouraging results were obtained especially in the relief of chronic constipation.


The oldest known citation of the term “probiotics“ was first introduced in 1953 to describe organic and inorganic food supplements applied to restore health to patients suffering from malnutrition. Contrasting antibiotics,8) ___ were defined as microbially derived factors that stimulate the growth of other microorganisms. In 1989, Roy Fuller suggested a definition of probiotics that has been widely used: “A live microbial feed supplement which beneficially affects the host animal by improving its intestinal microbial balance“. Fuller’s definition emphasizes the requirement of viability for probiotics and introduces the aspect of a beneficial effect on the host.


The term “probiotic“ originally referred to microorganisms that have effects on other microorganisms, a usage credited to Lilly and Stilwell (1965). Their conception of probiotics involved the notion that substances secreted by one microorganism stimulated the growth of another microorganism. The term was used again in 1971 by Sperti to describe tissue extracts which stimulated microbial growth. The term probiotics was taken up by Parker in 1974 who defined the concept as, “organisms and substances that have a beneficial effect on the host animal by contributing to its intestinal microbial 9) ___“. Later, the definition was greatly improved by Fuller in 1989, whose explanation was very close to the definition used today. Fuller in 1989 described probiotics as a “live microbial feed supplement which beneficially affects the host animal by improving its intestinal microbial balance“. He stressed two important facts of probiotics: the viable nature of probiotics and the capacity to help with intestinal balance. In the following decades, intestinal lactic acid bacterial species with alleged health beneficial properties have been introduced as probiotics, including Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus casei, and Lactobacillus johnsonii.


The scientist who gets all the credit for his careful and prolific research revealing the existence and benefit of probiotics, is the “father of natural immunity“ the term bestowed on Dr. Elie Metchnikoff, who first suggested the possibility of colonizing the gut with beneficial 10) ___ in the early 20th century.




Ilya Ilyich Mechnikov (Elie Metchnikoff) (1845-1916)


ANSWERS: 1) foods; 2) microorganisms; 3) system; 4) preservation; 5) breast; 6) antibiotics; 7) tract; 8) probiotics; 9) balance; 10) flora



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