What are lactic acid ferments?

Lactic Ferments: history and definition

Today it is thought that the first lactic ferments or more precisely lactic acid bacteria – also called LAB “lactic acid bacteria” -made their appearance on Earth at the end of the Cretaceous period, between 145 and 65 million years ago, when microorganisms began to find an abundance of fruits, rich in sugars for fermentation.

In contrast, theisolation of the first lactic acid bacteria dates back to the 18th century, thanks to the significant contribution of Louis Pasteur, who experimented with the first lactic fermentation in those years.

The concept of lactic acid bacteria then took shape in the early twentieth century as a group of microorganisms capable of transforming milk into curds. And it was through the appearance in a monograph by Orla-Jensen that a more precise and closer definition to the current concept of LAB was arrived at, where the author stated: “true lactic acid bacteria form a large natural group of cocci and sticks, which ferment sugars and higher alcohols to form mainly lactic acid” and precisely initiate fermentation.

Not only milk, however, but also meat and fish, vegetables, baked goods, and beverages are the by-products of lactic fermentation, which results in foods such as cheese, yogurt, bread, sausages, and more on our tables.

Today, people are quick to confuse the meaning of milk enzymes and probiotics because the use of these two terms, often even by those in the industry, is simplistic and unfortunately incorrect.

But let’s get some clarity: the difference between milk enzymes and probiotics.

I lactic ferments are all those microorganisms that are found of course in foods, fodder, cereal flours, bakery sourdough, milk, dairy products and cheeses, meat and fermented derivative products, in beer, wine, fruit and fruit juices, olives and pickled gherkins, but also (did you know?) in human and animal mucous membranes.
Each habitat of “origin” often corresponds to the right fermentation, Lactobacillus, Lactococcus, and Streptococcus for example, native to milk are often used in the production of many dairy products, such as yogurt, to name one.

I probiotics on the other hand, were defined byWHO in the early 2000s as “live organisms that confer a state of well-being on the host organism when administered in adequate concentration.”
They are in fact microorganisms that, for the most part, produce lactic acid but unlike lactic acid bacteria (or milk enzymes) remain alive within the body by replicating and providing a beneficial effect.

Lactic acid bacteria and where to find them

In short, as you may have guessed, lactic acid bacteria are just about everywhere, in our favorite foods and drinks and even in our bodies or those of our animal friends.
It is good to be able to recognize them, learn their effects and benefits, but most of all to know where to find them!

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