The term ‘probiotic’ is derived from the Greek pro (for) and bios (life) meaning ‘for life’. The concept of supplementing diet with probiotics evolved at the turn of the 20th century from a hypothesis proposed by Nobel Prize-winning Russian scientist Eli Metchnikoff. Metchnikoff suggested that the long, healthy life of Bulgarian peasants resulted from their consumption of fermented milk products and that the fermented lactobacillus positively influenced the microflora of the colon by decreasing toxic microbial activity.
The human gastrointestinal tract is colonized by many microorganisms, including bacteria, archaea, viruses, fungi and protozoa. The activity and composition of these microorganisms (collectively known as the gut microbiota, microbiome, or intestinal microflora) can affect human health and disease.
Probiotics are “live microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.”
– The Food and AgricultureOrganization (FAO) & the World Health Organization (WHO)