The history of probiotics, or ‘good bacteria’, lies in the 1900s when probiotics were discovered by Russian scientist and Nobel Prize winner, Elie Metchnikoff of the Pasteur Institute in Paris.
In 1907, working in Bulgaria, Metchnikoff was intrigued as to why certain inhabitants of the Bulgarian population lived much longer than others. Discovering that villagers living in the Caucasus Mountains were drinking a fermented yoghurt drink on a daily basis, his studies found that a probiotic called Lactobacillus bulgaricus improved their health and may have helped the longevity of their lives.
Metchnikoff’s pioneering research prompted him and others to look further into probiotics, leading scientists to discover many types of probiotics such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, Saccharomyces boulardii, and Bifidobacterium infantis; all of which have various properties and can have different effects on the body.
Most people use the word ‘gut’ to refer to the intestines. However the gut generally signifies the entire passage between a human’s mouth and anus, including the oesophagus and stomach.
Good bacteria such as acidophilus is passed from generation to generation. A baby literally takes a gulp of bacteria as it passes through the birth canal, hence establishing a foundation for its natural probiotic levels! This is why it is so important for mothers to optimise their friendly bacteria levels before giving birth.
IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) will affect up to 1 in 5 of the people in the UK at some point in their lives.
Traveller’s diarrhoea affects up to 60% of healthy travellers under tropical or hot climate latitudes. So think about taking some acidophilus with you on your next holiday!
Your digestive tract, or gut, is home to roughly 100 trillion bacteria, weighing 1.5 kg. 66% of the body’s immune cells reside in the gut.
There are more neurons (nerve cells that transmit and process information) in your enteric nervous system, which includes the intestines; than there are in your central nervous system, which includes the brain and spinal cord.
Every year in England over 1 million people are diagnosed with a digestive condition or disease.
95% of your serotonin is located within the small intestine. This is why people feel strong emotions in their gut as well as their minds. Follow your gut feeling!
Probiotics and Prebiotics
Probiotics are the body’s friendly bacteria. Probiotic bacteria are microorganisms which are beneficial for the human host. Types of probiotic include Lactobacillus acidophilus, Saccharomyces boulardii, and Bifidobacterium infantis. Learn more about probiotics.
Prebiotics, on the other hand, are a food source for probiotics. A prebiotic is a complex carbohydrate which selectively stimulates the growth of good (probiotic) bacteria in the body. Prebiotics can be naturally found in foods such as leeks, onions, and Jerusalem artichokes. High quality prebiotics will not feed pathogens in the body.
Both probiotic and prebiotic supplements have been linked to healthy digestion, good immunity, and increased energy levels.
Probiotics without Prebiotics
The benefit of taking probiotics as opposed to prebiotics is that if the body does not have enough, or the right types of probiotics, it is more useful to take a probiotic supplement, as opposed to simply a prebiotic which will stimulate growth of any probiotics already in the system. A very small minority of people find that prebiotics do not agree with their system (they can cause gas & bloating at first, although this may not subside), and therefore prefer to take probiotics alone.
Probiotics and Prebiotics
The benefit of taking probiotics with prebiotics is that you are effectively covering both grounds; replenishing the body’s good bacteria, and also feeding the probiotics – for a longer lasting effect. In simple terms it is like giving someone a bunch of flowers, along with flower food to keep them flourishing for longer.
Prebiotics without Probiotics
Some people find that certain types of prebiotics can be beneficial for certain conditions such as constipation (others may find that a combination works better, or that probiotics alone work for them too).
At the end of the day, different people have different bacterial make-ups, and therefore find that different solutions work for them. At OptiBac we currently offer products with either probiotics alone, or products with a combination of probiotics & prebiotics.