Thursday, April 24, 2014

Probiotics Thrive in Yogurt

It’s been more than a decade since the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics was formed with the intent to raise scientific credibility of the field so that marketers could put these beneficial ingredients to action in the consumer packaged goods industry.

Globally, dairy, and specifically yogurt, lead the way in regards to being enhanced with probiotics. This is because yogurt is a natural fit. It is an innately healthful food made with starter cultures, so it makes sense to add some extra good ones.

What are probiotics?  They are live microorganisms, which when administered in adequate amount, confer a health benefit on the host. They positively alter the body’s bacterial composition to encourage overall wellness. Some strains provide specific benefits such as improved intestinal function and increased immune response.

To read an article I just wrote for Food Business News entitled “Probiotics and prebiotics: The future is now,” link HERE.

(To view a larger version of the infographic to the right, clink on it or link HERE.)

Proceedings from last year’s First Global Summit on the Health Effects of Yogurt have just been published as a supplement to the May 2014 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. You can view the contents HERE.

The Summit addressed the growing body of evidence linking yogurt consumption to improved health and identified additional research needed to establish a scientific link between yogurt and potential health benefits.

“Current research on the potential impact of yogurt on health is encouraging and we look forward to learning more about the unique contribution that yogurt offers to individuals and overall public health,” said Sharon Donovan, PhD, RD, past president of the American Society for Nutrition and professor of nutrition at the University of Illinois, at the Summit. “Our goal in this initiative is to document what we know and what we do not know to guide future research efforts.” For more information, link HERE.

Donovan writes in the proceedings that yogurt has been part of the human diet for thousands of years, and during that time a number of health benefits have been associated with its consumption. She explains that when assessing a complex food matrix such as yogurt, which is typically a living system, it is important to not just look at specific nutrients, rather how the food influences the whole diet.

The role of probiotics is an important consideration.

One of the papers in the proceedings was written by Lorenzo Morelli, professor and chair of Food Microbiology and Biotechnology at the Istituto di Microbiologia, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Piacenza, Italy. Entitled “Yogurt, living cultures and gut health,” Morelli explains that bacteria used to ferment milk to obtain yogurt belong to a thermophilic, bile-sensitive species of lactic acid bacteria, which are not ideally suited for survival into the human gut. However, assessing the viability of these bacteria through the digestive tract may be relevant to evaluate their potential to deliver some beneficial effects for the well-being of the consumer. The well-known reduction in the symptoms caused by lactose maldigestion is not the only benefit provided by yogurt starter cultures. He reviews additional effects, emphasizing data that suggests strain-dependent effects.

Other papers in the proceedings include:
  • Dairy products in global public health (Andrew Prentice)
  • How sound is the science behind the dietary recommendations for dairy? (Connie Weaver)
  • Nutrient density: principles and evaluation tools (Adam Drewnowski and Victor Fulgoni III)
  • Yogurt and weight management (Paul Jacques and Huifen Wang)
  • Yogurt and dairy product consumption to prevent cardiometabolic diseases: epidemiologic and experimental studies (Arne Astrup)
  • Yogurt consumption and impact on health: focus on children and cardiometabolic risk (André Marette and Eliane Picard-Deland)
  • Lactose digestion from yogurt: mechanism and relevance (Dennis Savaiano)
  • Dairy products, yogurts and bone health (René Rizzoli)
  • Yogurt: role in healthy and active aging (Naglaa Hani El-Abbadi, Maria Carlota Dao and Simin Nikbin Meydani)
  • The future of yogurt: scientific and regulatory needs (Bruce German)
An interesting and very positive consumer piece on yogurt was published is January on the website Entitled “Yogurt and the human health: surprising benefits of yogurt that everyone should not overlook,” the article addresses the nutritional benefits of eating yogurt, including the health and wellness benefits of probiotics, such as aiding in digestion and irritable bowel syndromes, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Additionally, the article discusses immune system promotion, cholesterol level reduction and yeast infection prevention. You can view the article HERE.

And here are some recent global innovations touting the inclusion of probiotics.

U.S. consumers looking for new ways to get their daily dose of immunity-building probiotics can turn to recent innovations from leading kefir manufacturer Lifeway Foods Inc. The company has developed three new varieties of its dairy-based kefir smoothie that deliver a trio of fresh choices for drinking to your health. The new veggie, oat-enriched and stevia-sweetened kefir lines are rolling out right now.

Lifeway Veggie Kefir is a savory alternative to fruit-flavored kefirs that lets you drink your probiotics and your veggies at the same time. This new blend of vegetables juices and kefir delivers one full serving of vegetables as well as the full nutritional kick of kefir in every 8-ounce glass. It comes in Beet, Cucumber and Tomato varieties, each bursting with garden-fresh flavor and with no added salt or sugar. It is sold in 8-ounce individual bottles and four-packs.

Lifeway Kefir with Oats is a fiber bonanza featuring 1.5 grams of soluble oat powder that packs the nutritional punch of oatmeal without the cooking. With a smooth texture and a hint of oat flavor plus 11 grams of complete protein, this “oat kefir” comes in Apple Cinnamon, Blueberry Maple and Vanilla Plum flavors for an on-the-go breakfast or a great midday pick-me-up. It comes in 8-ounce individual bottles and four-packs.

Lifeway Perfect 12 Kefir is sweetened with stevia. It is suited for diabetics or those watching their sugar intake. With 12 probiotic cultures and 12 grams of carbs, the line features all-natural sweetening with no-calorie stevia leaf extract and no added sugar, according to the company. An 8-ounce serving contains 110 calories. The kefir comes in 32-ounce multi-serving bottles in four flavors inspired by dessert favorites: Apple Pear Cobbler, Key Lime Pie, Orange Cream and Triple Berry Tart.

“As the popularity of probiotics and kefir continues to climb, there’s room in the market for new permutations that provide variety as well as appeal to consumers with different nutritional needs and priorities,” says Julie Smolyansky, president and CEO of Lifeway Foods. “These three new lines deliver imaginative new formulations and flavors that offer innovative solutions for healthy meals and snacking.”

The company just announced it will launch its largest national print advertising campaign in the company’s 28-year history on May 5 with full-page ads focusing on the theme #MotherCulture, which is a play on words invoking both the company’s cultured dairy products and the maternal nurturing of healthy children and society through food, attention and love.

Images in the initial ad feature Smolyansky exposing a pregnant belly as well as snapshots of her two young daughters, including one sipping the company’s organic ProBugs kefir product from a colorful no-spill pouch. (By the way, Lifeway was the first U.S. yogurt manufacturer to use the pouch.) May and June ad placements will include American Baby, Health, InStyle, People and Shape. The ads invite readers to share their parenting stories, photos, recipes and other contributions expressing what the term MotherCulture means to them at the hashtag #MotherCulture, with the goal of creating an interactive dialogue about the parenting experience.

“This campaign was inspired by the fact that everything starts with a mother. That includes kefir, which is made from milk fermented with kefir ‘mother’ cultures,” says Smolyansky. “As a mother of two myself, I’m interested in feeding my children nutritious foods, creating a healthy environment for them to grow up in, and empowering other mothers and fathers to do the same. With #MotherCulture, we can share our experiences to collectively build a healthier and more empowered community.”

The ads support Smolyansky’s other efforts to empower women around the world. The youngest female CEO of a publicly held company when she took over her father’s kefir business in 2002 at the age of 27, Smolyansky is currently a member of the United Nations Foundation’s Global Entrepreneurs Council, a maternal health advocate with Christy Turlington Burns’ Every Mother Counts organization, and an advisor to the 1,000 Days advocacy group dedicated to promoting better nutrition during the critical 1,000 days from pregnancy to age 2. She is also the founder of Test400k, a nonprofit organization dedicated to ending the backlog of 400,000 untested rape kits in the U.S. as well as ending violence against women both domestically and globally. Congratulations Julie. It is an honor to be your friend.

In South Korea, Purmil offers Premium Bifidus Apple Flavour Drinking Yogurt. It is made with recombined milk and 7% apple juice. To encourage growth of the added Bifidus bacteria, it is enhanced with the prebiotic fructooligosaccharide. To keep calories low, it is sweetened with sucralose. The product comes in 300-milliliter bottles. A 100-milliliter serving contains a mere 65 calories.

In Japan, the private-label Châteraisé brand offers BB12 Probiotics Yogurt, a low-calorie, low-sugar and fat-free product. The unflavored yogurt comes in 80-gram containers and contains a mere 30 calories and 3 grams of fat. Erythritol and sucralose keep calories down.

In Canada, the Loblaw’s supermarket chain sells private-label President’s Choice Probiotic Greek Yogurt. The product comes in 500-gram multi-serve containers in three flavors: Mango, Strawberry and Vanilla. There are also three combination packs, containing eight 100-gram cups. The combos are: Black Cherry and Strawberry, Blueberry and Raspberry and Strawberry and Vanilla. Labels tout the fact that a 100-gram serving provides one billion colony-forming units of the probiotic cultures Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium lactis, which contribute to healthy gut flora.

In Peru, Misky Food offers five varieties—Guanabana, Mango, Passionfruit, Peach and Strawberry—of drinkable yogurt. Sweetened with stevia, product labels tout that the drink contains beneficial bacteria to help regulate intestinal flora and fortify the immune system.

Back in the States, Origin Food Group is rolling out Vida, a line of probiotic drinkable yogurts enhanced with functional ingredients. There are three formulations, all of which are a good source of fiber and high in calcium. A serving also contains 200 million live and active cultures.

Awaken is positioned as a breakfast drink. It contains real bananas and strawberries and is fortified with essential vitamins.

Invigor contains plant-based, heart-healthy phytosterols. It is flavored with mango and guanabana.

Rejuvenate is made with acai, blueberries and pomegranate. It is enhanced with CoQ10 and vitamin E, both of which are associated with producing energy for cell growth.

Vida comes in multi-serve 32-ounce plastic bottles.

At the beginning of the year, Cacique rolled out a namesake yogurt smoothie line in eight varieties. There are five fruit-only varieties and three that are blended with cereal (wheat bran). They are: Guava, Mango, Pecan with Cereal, Pina Colada, Prune with Cereal, Strawberry, Strawberry-Banana and Strawberry-Banana with Cereal. The pecan variety contains real dry-roasted pecans. Each single-serve 7-ounce bottle contains 8 grams of protein and 120 to 150 calories, depending on variety. Calories are kept low through the use of a blend of sugar and sucralose. Product labels tout the fact that they are made with “real fruit” and “real California milk.” Labels also claim the inclusion of live and active cultures that help support digestive health. A logo states: Probiotics at work.

It’s time to put probiotics to work in your dairy foods.

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