Probiotics in the form of substances containing lactobacillus, acidophilus and Bifidobacterium cultures have been used for centuries as food preservatives and natural sources to promote good human health without specific knowledge of their active ingredients or how they work. Lactobacillus was first identified by Pasteur (1845 – 1895) in France, the pioneer of modern microbiology. A real understanding of how probiotics function began when the Nobel Prize winning Russian physiologist, Metchnikoff (1845 – 1916), introduced his intoxication theory. He stated that the main cause of aging is “toxicants” formed by intestinal putrefaction and fermentation and suggested drinking beverages such as yogurt containing lactic acid bacteria would prevent aging. Lactobacilli suddenly attracted world attention.
Since Metchnikoff, a lot of research and clinical trials have been made but his “Eternal Youth Theory” has repeated a cycle of disappearing for a time and then returning again to public notice with the issue never really being resolved in either a scientific or practical sense.
Recently, thanks to remarkable advances in microbiology and intestinal bacteriology, it has been made clear that certain lactobacilli, especially a Lactobacillus genus and a Bifidobacterium genus, have high mucus membrane chemical affinity, and play important roles in human health. Metchnikoff’s assumption has been substantiated and even become common knowledge in the health sciences.