HISTORY OF PROBIOTIC YOGHURT
The Gift of the Gods – A valuable medicine for the Romans. Yoghurt is one of the oldest foods known to man and has been a basic nutritional product in Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia for thousands of years.Greek doctors were familiar with yoghurt and knew about its healthy properties as far back as the second century B.C. For thousands of years, fermentation by means of lactic acid bacteria has been an effective way of preserving the nutritive qualities of milk from different animals. Ultimately, the origins of yoghurt go back a long way and cannot be given an exact date.
Different mythic origins exist, like the tale of a secret yoghurt recipe that was given to Abraham by God himself. Another story recounts that in the sixteenth century, King Frances I of France suffered from a persistant stomach ailment and after several unsuccessful treatments, a Turkish doctor was sent for. He brought with him sheep and a secret recipe: that of yoghurt. Needless to say, the King was soon cured of his intestinal infection.
In 76 B.C. the Roman historian Plinius recommended the administration of fermented milk products for treating gastroenteritis. Since the advent of the microbiology era some investigators such as Carre, Tissier, and Metchnikoff, attributed such health effects to shifts of the microbial balance. Metchnikoff claimed that the intake of yoghurt containing lactobachilli results in a reduction of toxin producing bacteria in the gut thus, increasing the longevity of the host.
In Western Europe, the widespread consumption of yoghurt owes much to the work of Ukranian scientist, Elie Metchnikoff. Metchnikoff, a Nobel Prize Winner, attributed the longevity of people living to the Caucasus region to the exceptional properties of the live cultures in yoghurt which formed a stable part of their diet. He later wrote a book called Prolongation of Life in which he identified the “autointoxication” caused by gut bacteria as a chief culprit in human aging.
According to Gerald. W. Cannock, Metchnikoff postulated that “the bacterial community residing in the large bowel of humans was source of substances toxic to the nervous and vescular systems of the host. These toxic substances absorbed the bowel and cirulating in the bloodstream, contibuted to the aging process.” Metchnikoff initial corrective measure for preventing this apparent bacterial decay was to suggest removal of the large bowel! A remedy that met with more approval and was less dramatic involved trying to lessen or replace the “putrefactive bacteria in the intestine” It was thought that “oral administration of cultures of fermented bacteria would implant the beneficial bacteria in the intestinal tract.” Since it has been observed that bacteria producing lactic acid prevented milk from putrefying, it is believed that it would have a similar effect on the digestive tract.
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