, to re-establishthemselves. They are sometimes recommended by doctors, and,more frequently, by nutritionists, after a course of antibiotics, or as part of the treatment for gut related candidiasis. In these cases, thebacteria that work well with our bodies (seesymbiosis ) may decreasein number, an event which allows harmful competitorsto thrive, to thedetriment of our health. Claims are made that probiotics strengthentheimmune systemto combat allergies
, excessivealcohol intake,stress, exposure totoxic substances, and other diseases.Maintenance of a healthy gut flora is, however, dependent onmany factors, especially the quality of food intake.
HISTORY OF PROBIOTICS
Probiotics, which means, "for life," have been used for centuries as natural components in health-promoting foods.Theoriginal observation of the positive role played by certain bacteriawas first introduced by Russian scientist and Nobel laureateEli Metchnikoff , who in the beginning of the 20th century suggested that it would be possible to modify thegut floraand to replace harmful microbes by useful microbes. Metchnikoff, at that time a professor at thePasteur InstituteinParis, produced the notion that the ageing process results from the activity of putrefactive( proteolytic )microbes producing toxic substances in thelarge bowel . Proteolytic bacteriasuch asclostridia, which are part of the normal gut flora, producetoxic substances including phenols
,indolsand ammoniafrom thedigestionof proteins. According to Metchnikoff these compoundswere responsible for what he called "intestinal auto-intoxication",which caused the physical changes associated with old age. It was at that time known that milk fermented with lactic-acid bacteria inhibitsthe growth of proteolytic bacteria because of the low pH produced by the fermentation of lactose. Metchnikoff had also observed that certain rural populations in Europe, for example inBulgariaand theRussian Steppes who lived largely on milk fermented by lactic-acid bacteria were exceptionally long lived. Based on these facts,Metchnikoff proposed that consumption of fermented milk would "seed" theintestinewith harmless lactic-acid bacteria and decreasethe intestinal pH and that this would suppress the growth of proteolytic bacteria. Metchnikoff himself introduced in his diet sour milk fermented with the bacteria he called "Bulgarian Bacillus" and found his health benefited. Friends in Paris soon followed hisexample and physicians began prescribing the sour milk diet for their patients.
There is no published evidence that probiotic supplements areable to completely replace the body’s natural flora when these havebeen killed off; indeed bacterial levels in faeces disappear withindays when supplementation ceases. While the oral use of probioticsis considered safe and even recommended by World HealthOrganizationunder specific guidelines, in some specific situations