Many people are beginning to understand with probiotics that not all bacteria are bad. In fact, probiotics have been contributing to good health for years. With an increasing demand of probiotics, people are requesting that they be available in forms other than yogurt and oral dietary supplements. Consumers want more choices, since some people are sensitive to certain kinds of processing (i.e. temperature). However, with constantly-improving technology, probiotics are being used in a broader market of goods.
The thought of beneficial bacteria has become more popular with the public, since studies have shown that probiotics can aid the immune system in the fight against the “bad guys”. More and more yogurt brands are boasting probiotics on their labels, and companies are continuing to find ways to implement good bacteria strains into other foods that are not cultured by tradition. This doesn’t necessarily mean a consumer will purchase this product, since a company tried adding probiotics to cheese, and this product didn’t sell too well. This is because a consumer is not generally looking for cheese to add health benefits to a meal; instead, he or she usually uses cheese to add taste to what is being eaten.
People tend to be the most comfortable with probiotics being added to oral health care products, since strains of bad bacteria reside in the mouth, gums and teeth, and these bacteria can cause tooth enamel and gum disease. Two of the most popular products that have received a high increase in growth are gums and mints, since functional gum has jumped 10% between 2007-2008. A current trend in consumer education is people learning about the role that good strains of bacteria have in staying healthy and recovering one’s health.
Streptococcus mutans is one of the Lactobacillus strains that work against enamel-eroding bacteria, and people can expect this strain to appear in gums and mints. A sugar-free gum that came out recently contains the strain Lactobacillus reuteri, and there are mints that contain a mixture of strains L. reuteri, L. plantarum, L. rhamnosis and L. acidophilus, which target bad breath-causing bacteria. Another company has developed a breath mint that features Streptococcus oralis, Streptococcus uberis, and Streptococcus rattus, all targeted at preventing and fighting dental decay and halitosis. Surprisingly, there is even a strain of bacteria called Streptococcus oralis that actually has a whitening effect on the teeth, since it crowds out bad bacteria on the teeth’s surface.
Pharmaceutical companies are creating different probiotic breath mints that will be designed for improving oral health, and lasting much longer than current probiotics without being stored in cold temperatures. An important thing for manufacturers to remember is that the new oral care products being made need to use bacteria that exist naturally in the oral cavity, otherwise they will not last long in the mouth.
There are over 400 different species of bacteria in the digestive, and all of these strains are competing for space to inhabit. In general, the good bacteria can crowd out the bad bacteria, which is why consuming probiotics can be helpful for those who have diarrhea, inflammatory bowel disease, lactose indigestion, irritable bowel syndrome, H. pylori (ulcer-causing bacteria) problems, and colon cancer. It is also worth pointing out that these bacteria exist all over the body, including the mouth, skin, reproductive organs and other membranes. Ingesting probiotics can even be beneficial for those with allergies, autism, arthritis, and liver and kidney problems.
One of the major areas for probiotic’s growth in the market may be in immune defense, since probiotics can benefit the immune system’s response. Immunity is related to gut health, and research has shown that probiotics improve cold and flu symptoms, allergic rhinitis and pollen allergies. Asia and Europe have already been linking probiotics with immune health for many years, but the U.S. only recently caught on. Probiotics also are known to prevent certain infections, so it may be useful with epidemics like the swine flu. Various strains of bacteria have relieved fever symptoms, viral respiratory infections, and pneumonia.
Probiotics, especially Lactobacilli, are effective in aiding the immune response and increasing the resistance to pathogens. Newer territories that researchers are exploring are the effects of probiotics on inflammatory disease, cholesterol reduction and even anti-aging properties, post-myocardial infarction depression and stress management. Even more surprising, there is groundbreaking research that probiotics can be beneficial in infant formulas, vaginal microbiota, and satiety (for weight management).
A major challenge in administering probiotics is getting the right dosage, and making sure the correct strains go to the correct places in the body. It is far from simple, and one of the major challenges that face manufacturers is heat, since it destroys the beneficial flora. The ingredients in the probiotic supplements must be able to tolerate the handling, storage, processing, shelf-life issues, and the tempestuous environment of the acid in the stomach. The limited amount of conditions that probiotics can handle seldom allow for applications outside of refrigerated supplements; however, more and more companies are improving the probiotics’ survival, so they are more protected- with longer shelf lives and slower releases. With new technology constantly being released, some companies have even created a probiotic chocolate, and up and coming probiotic applications in cereal bars, cereals, ice creams, fresh fruit and vegetable juices, meal replacements, and biscuits. Probiotics in hot tea and soup have even been made possible with these new advances in technology. Last but not least, topical and personal care applications are now possible with probiotics, since antifungal and antiviral properties can be brought out during a process of fermentation.
Currently, one of the main trends is pairing probiotics with other probiotics, since this enhances the probiotics’ ability to survive. With the ever-changing and improving research, technologies and education of probiotics, innovators will continue to deliver new and improved products geared at improving everyone’s health.
Source: Natural Products Insider