In the small village named Studen Izvor, a Bulgarian scientist and a physician, Stamen Grigorov was born in 1878. He was the first man who discovered and viewed a bacterium through the microscope that fermented the milk to form yogurt. He used to work at a university in Geneva as a research assistant under the famous microbiologist Dr Leon Massol. When Massol urged Grigorov to present his findings at the Pasteur Institute in France in 1905, the bacteria discovered by Grigorov was named in his hometown honour as Lactobacillus bulgaricus.
Grigorov showed the world how penicillin fungus could be used to treat tuberculosis. He presented a document in 1906 detailing his important findings on the tuberculosis vaccine and worked on the subject up until his passing. His 142nd birthday was celebrated with a Google Doodle on October 27, 2020, in honour of the man who used experimentation to save many lives.
How did Stamen Grigorov discover Lactobacillus bulgaricus in yogurt?
Shortly after getting married in 1904, Grigorov produced one of history’s most amazing discoveries. He was travelling from his home in Studen Izvor to Geneva when his wife gave him some food with yoghurt. He began testing hypotheses to determine the cause of the milk fermentation process because he enjoyed the flavour of yogurt. Grigorov discovered that rod-shaped bacteria in the yogurt were capable of fermenting the milk after conducting several tests and using a microscope. Grigorov, as a result, brought many ceramic urns filled with sour milk from Bulgaria to Geneva for further tests.
At the same time, Ilya Ilyich Mechnikov, a renowned Russian bacteriologist, was appointed head of the Pasteur Institute in Paris. He conducted research on the number of centenarians or those who have lived for more than 100 years, in 37 different nations. It was shockingly discovered that Bulgaria was home to the majority of centenarians. Mechnikov reasoned that Bulgarian yoghurt consumption was the reason why many people there lived long lives.
The Mechnikov breakthrough created a buzz across the world, and therefore more people were interested in learning how to produce yoghurt. Stamen Grigorov was invited to Paris by Mechnikov after receiving a letter regarding his finding from Prof. Massol in Geneva. He gave Grigorov the opportunity to reveal the explanation of his findings to the scientific community. Grigorov presented his experiments, and the scientists enthusiastically lauded him. The bacterium’s name was changed to “Lactobacillus delbureckii subsp. Bulgaricus Grigoroff 1905” as soon as his name began to appear everywhere in scientific journals.
Facts about yogurt and its anti-aging properties
After Mechnikov received a Nobel Prize in 1908 for his study related to centenarians, he continued his research to find how yogurt could be used to cure diseases. His yogurt’s appeal grew with time and Stamen Grigorov’s discovery made yogurt commercialization possible. To this day, yogurt is regarded as a miracle food. Regular yogurt eaters have better weight management and bone density. They are less prone to low blood pressure or lower level of blood glucose and triglycerides.
In fact, Grigorov’s findings and Mechnikov’s writing created a sensation in the United States ‘health food Movement’ in the early 20th century. A renowned vegetarian movement leader and whole-grain food promoter Dr John Harvey Kellogg were so attracted by yogurt’s anti-aging properties that he started advocating to his followers to include yogurt in their everyday diet. He believed that yogurt could cleanse their colon from the ‘putrefaction’ caused by the consumption of flesh. He said that “if you balance your intestinal flora, you will live as long as the rugged mountain men of Bulgaria.” With time, many scientific studies and research made on yogurt’s medicinal properties found that:
- Bulgarian yogurt is one of the best probiotics. Probiotic means ‘for life’ and it refers to those organisms which can provide us with good health when consumed in an appropriate amount.
- Yogurt contains ‘good’ bacteria which can prove helpful in enhancing our digestive tract and ultimately increase our lifespan. The active live culture in yogurt helps the body to function well and prevents the growth of harmful bacteria causing diseases and infections.
- Yogurt strengthens the body’s immune system and prevents the growth of tumours.
- The calcium in yogurt helps against osteoporosis besides diminishing cholesterol levels.
- The yogurt bacteria help in reducing high blood pressure.
- Active culture in yogurt improves gastrointestinal conditions like constipation, lactose intolerance, colon cancer, diarrhoea, inflammatory bowel disease and many others.
- Organic yogurt is an excellent diet food that makes us full faster and acts as a good source of protein.