October 07, 2013
Probiotics are starting to get the widespread recognition they deserve as a functional part of a healthy diet, and like anything that gets consumer attention, a mass of commercial products have hit the market boasting probiotic benefits. But how effective are these products really? And do they deliver the benefits that they promise?
Why the Emphasis on Probiotic Foods?
For generations, the world has enjoyed a diet of “real food”. This has been unprocessed, naturally occurring goodness, some of which has included traditional fermented foods that are high in probiotics. Today, real food is hard to come by – processed food that is nutritionally poor, combined with pesticides and animal antibiotics in the food chain means that our gut flora has been altered in a bad way, and probiotics are becoming more important in maintaining and restoring the balance in our digestive systems.
An Unregulated Marketplace
It is important to understand that the FDA does not regulate probiotics as a drug because they are dietary supplements. This can put more of a burden on the consumer to understand the probiotic they are taking and its benefits. This is exactly why Natren places so much emphasis on education and transparency regarding our probiotics. We are backed by an internationally recognized and audited testing of everything from raw ingredients to our finished probiotic product. Unfortunately, not all foods that advertise probiotic goodness undergo these tests – which is why consumer education is important.
Refrigeration is Key
A big test of the usefulness of a probiotic food is refrigeration. Probiotics are living bacteria and do not thrive in heat that they can be exposed to during transportation and sitting on store shelves. So the first sign of an ineffective product is one that is found outside the refrigerator. This also tends to rule out items like probiotic energy bars and other processed items.
Not all Yogurts are Created Equal
Yogurt can be a very good source of beneficial bacteria – in fact making probiotic yogurt is how Natren started as a business – however not all yogurt lives up to this potential. Many commercially produced products are loaded with simple sugars and not a whole lot of beneficial bacteria. It is also important to know that if you are relying on yogurt as your main source of probiotics, that the beneficial bacteria have a tough time making it through the strongly acidic environment of the stomach, and many cells are destroyed along the way – therefore, eating lots of mass produced yogurt could leave you with a lot of sugars, carbs, calories and very little benefit. One solution is to make yogurt at home yourself – this can be a fun activity for the family as well as healthful and nutritious. Natren Yogurt Starter is a great way to introduce a functional food to your home. You can add fruit or honey for a sweet treat or use it as a substitute for sour cream on tacos or potatoes. It is also free of processed sugars and preservatives.
Adding Probiotics to Everyday Foods
Another great way of getting more probiotics into your diet is to add probiotic powders directly to your meals. Natren probiotics are available in powder form (sprinkle 1-2 teaspoons on warm, but not hot, foods), or you can break open capsules and add the content directly to foods. This is a great way to get kids to take their probiotics, and you will feel better knowing they’ve eaten healthy foods that will benefit their growing bodies. In our blog next week, we will look further at making foods more functional using probiotics.
The post Probiotics In Your Food: Do They Deliver The Benefits? appeared first on Natren Probiotics Blog.
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