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How probiotics began


The probiotic concept dates back to the early 20th century, with Professor Ilya Metchnikoff’s theory that there were health advantages in replacing harmful proteolytic bacteria in the colon with beneficial saccharolytic species, preferably those producing lactic acid.


This idea was put into practice by the researcher Dr Minoru Shirota in Japan, who screened hundreds of lactobacilli for their ability to resist digestion by the gut – leading to the discovery of the strain now known as Lactobacillus casei Shirota in 1930, and the subsequent development of Yakult in 1935.

Over the last twenty years, the range of probiotic products on the market has broadened and there has been an exponential increase in research into understanding probiotic mechanisms of action and benefits. 

Try a search on the term ‘probiotic’ to see for yourself (


  • Levin R (2012), Probiotics - the road map. Int J Probiotics Prebiotics 6 (3/4):133-140

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