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According to the World Health Organization (WHO), probiotics are “Live microorganisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.”

There are many types of bacteria used as probiotics, with the Lactobacillus and Bifido strains amongst the most widely used. These beneficial bacteria help to increase the 'good' bacteria population in the gut and areas where there is an overpopulation of harmful organisms. These 'friendly' bacteria work to keep harmful organism growth in check.

Probiotics are found primarily in fermented foods such as yogurt and kefir, cheeses, sauerkraut and other fermented vegetables. They are also widely available as dietary supplements.

History and Origin

A Russian scientist and Nobel laureate, Elie Metchnikoff, was the first person to observe the positive effects of good bacteria in the body. Probiotic treatment began to develop during the beginning of the 20th century, and many researchers have since completed research regarding the success of probiotics for helping to overcome opportunistic organisms that cause dysfunction of the digestive tract and other illnesses.

Probiotic is combination of two Latin words: pro which means for, and biotics derived from the word bios, which means life.

Ancient Uses

Though probiotics were not known as such during ancient times, cultures of this era relied upon fermented food such as milk and vegetables. Illnesses were treated primarily with healthy foods, as well as herbal medicines gathered from the habitat in which they lived.

Modern Uses

Probiotics provide countless benefits to the human body. They benefit the digestive tract, supporting the ability to digest food completely and utilize nutrients. Probiotics also help maintain a healthy colon free from harmful toxins, yeast and 'bad' bacterial overgrowth, and the health of the oral cavity, the genital tract, and the skin.

Probiotics are ideal for supporting the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory conditions, allergies, and many other chronic conditions. Because most of the body's immune system is within the gastrointestinal tract, probiotics are important for ensuring healthy immune system function.

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