Probiotics, digestive health and the gut microbiota are absolutely essential to health and wellness. They really are cornerstones to maintaining a steady state of physical and mental health. While this aspect may not always have been known, the benefits of fermented foods in general has been long known. It’s always important to point out the distinction between probiotic foods and fermented foods. A food can be probiotic, but not fermented food. This would be when probiotics are added. On the other hand, we can have a fermented food that is not (naturally) probiotic. An example is kombucha. Of course there are some foods which are fermented and probiotic, where they microorganisms that engage in the fermentation process, also provide health benefits to the host. Foods for delivery of probiotics is so, so important. This of course changes from country to country, and region to region, depending on the local palate and seasonality, for example. This piece on the types of probiotic foods, as alternatives to the traditional probiotic foods of yogurt and kimchi for example, was written by Amy Tsang in 2008, a 3rd-year food science student at RMIT University. While it is not an up-to-date account of probiotic food innovations, the ideas may stimulate thinking for your own new probiotic food development project.
It is quite challenging to develop palatable and socially acceptable probiotic products for consumption, especially for non-dairy probiotic foods due to the bacteria’s sensitive character towards processing methods. Successfully manufacturing non dairy probiotics can be highly reliant upon the food matrix, these factors can consist of; pH level, storage temperature, oxygen levels and presence of competing organisms and inhibitors (Mattila-Sandholm et. al, 2002). As cited in (Mattila-Sandholm et. al, 2002) a method to overcome probiotic instability in non-dairy probiotics, is to introduce a method referred to as probiotic encapsulation technology. This method although successful in promoting stability of probiotic bacteria in non-dairy products; it was not utilized in any of the research papers analysed below, however the method was mentioned by (Yoon et. al, 2006).
Probiotic products should be made available to suit all diets; vegetarians and consumers who suffer from diseases and allergies. As cited in (Heenan et. al, 2004) “probiotics are usually marketed in the form of fermented milks and yoghurts; however, with an increase in consumer vegetarianism throughout the country, there is a demand for vegetarian probiotic products.”
The criteria for vegetarian probiotic products is simple, no animal-derived ingredients are to be used in the production process. According to (Heenan, et. al, 2004) this also applies to the media used to culture the probiotic organisms, and any ingredients used for preservation or storage. A study conducted by (Heenan, et. al, 2004) looked into a non- fermented vegetarian frozen soy dessert, and analysed the survival of probiotic organisms and sensory differences over a 6 month period. The study found that many of the probiotic bacteria such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, L. rhamnosis and Bifidobacterium lactis survived the frozen conditions quite well and the numbers of viable cells were still above the minimum requirement of 107cfu/g. As for the sensory attributes, the soy- based dessert containing L. acidophilus developed off-flavours (Heenan et. al, 2004).
Another example of a non-dairy probiotic product is the development of a new oat-based probiotic drink, in this study (Angelov et. al, 2006) have attempted to develop a symbiotic drink derived from whole grain oat substrate and probiotic starter culture. This drink combines a good source of beta-glucan (functional constituent of cereal fibers) with probiotic cultures (Angelov et. al, 2006), because oats have a low glycemic index, this drink may be beneficial to patients who suffer from diabetes.
Another probiotic alternative was under evaluation; B. breve strain Yakult in fermented soymilk, this study focused on the capability of B. breve strain Yakult to grow in fermented soymilk and investigated the vivo recovery of the administered strain from faeces (Shimakawa et. al, 2003). The results for this investigation revealed that the B. breve strain Yakult was present in high numbers after consumption; through faecal recovery. It was stated that:” the fermented soy-milk would be an excellent vehicle for live Bifidobacterium” (Shimakawa et. al, 2003, discussion section).
Red beets were also analysed as a substrate for the creation of beet juice by four species of lactic acid bacteria; Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus delbrueckii, Lactobacillus plantarum (Yoon et. al, 2005). The results concluded that large beets could be used to produce beet juice by lactic acid fermentation with L. acidophilus or L. plantarum (Yoon, et. al, 2005). In addition to beet juice, cabbage juice was also investigated; the completed results concluded that L. plantarum and L. delbrueckii could be used as probiotic cultures, furthermore emphasise was placed cabbage juice as a healthy alternative for vegetarians and consumers who were allergic to lactose present in dairy products (Yoon, et. al, 2006).
Angelov, A., Gotcheva, V., Kuncheva, R., Hristozova, T., 2006, ‘Development of a new oat-based probiotic drink,’ International Journal of Food Microbiology, vol. 112, pp.75-80.
Heenan., C. N., Adams, M. C., Hosken, R.W., Fleet, G.H., 2004, ‘Survival and sensory acceptability of probiotic microorganisms in a nonfermented frozen vegetarian dessert,’ Lebensm.-Wiss. U.- Technol, vol. 37,pp. 461-466.
Mattila-Sandholm, T., Myllärinen. P., Cittenden, R., Mogensen, G., Fonden, R., Saarela, M., 2002, ‘Technological challenges for future probiotic foods,’ International Dairy Journal, vol. 12, pp. 173-182.
Shimakawa,Y., Matsubara, S., Yuki, N., Ikeda, M. & Ishikawa, F., 2003, ‘Evaluation of Bifidobacterium breve strain Yakult-fermented soymilk as a probiotic food,’International Journal of Food Microbiology, vol. 81, pp. 131-136.
Yoon, K. Y., Woodams, E. E., Hang, Y. D., 2005, ‘ Fermentation of beet juice by beneficial lactic acid bacteria,’ Lebensm.-Wiss. U.-Technol. Vol, 38, pp. 73-75.
Yoon, K. Y., Woodams, E. E., Hang, Y. D., 2006, ‘Production of probiotic cabbage juice by lactic acid bacteria,’ Bioresource Technology, vol. 97, pp. 1427-1430.