Innovative food and beverage brands are seeking to capitalize on emergent consumer interest in gut health and the ingredients that can improve it. But they face multiple challenges in the development of products because these sensitive ingredients need to survive a sometimes harsh manufacturing process and reach the gut alive and intact. So formulators are beginning to select hardy probiotic strains, combine prebiotics into formulations, and turn to lifeless postbiotic ingredients.

March 21, 2024

3 Min Read
Functional ingredients transform the gut, microbiome

The importance of gut health and the connection between gut bacteria and overall well-being is influencing a lot of food and beverage buying these days. The trillions of microorganisms that live in the gut hold the key to a healthy microbiome and are the critical connection to digestion, immune function, even mental health. Enter innovative food and beverage products that can effectively deliver a biotic payload to improve the microscopic makeup of the gut and beyond.

Biotics, especially probiotics, are delicate and can be easily damaged during processing, storage and digestion. Formulators need to take steps to shield them, with encapsulation a popular method for protecting probiotics from damage. Prebiotics may be better suited for different purposes, and some are more stable than others. Some stress-adapted probiotic strains are more tolerant of processing and digestive conditions as well, and synergistic effects can be realized when prebiotics are combined to help probiotics survive the journey to the gut.

Get the goods on microbiome ingredients and formulation by downloading this free digital magazine. The articles include:

Viewpoint: Delicious snacks deliver a dose of probiotics

Taste meets technology and functionality with Yoggies, yogurt-covered real fruit snacks loaded with probiotics. Their story is a decade in the making, as the brand’s owners spent years developing a patented microencapsulation technology. Content Director Audarshia Townsend goes deeper into the effort that created a functional, shelf-stable food where fiber and probiotics can travel all the way to the gut and dissolve to deliver the right benefits without changing taste.

Boosting health from the inside out: The science of biotics

Food developers face numerous challenges capitalizing on consumers’ curiosity about probiotics, prebiotics and postbiotics. Sensitive processing conditions and special protection technologies are part of the picture, while the desire for scientific backing underpins many buying decisions. Cindy Hazen offers guidance and expertise from category leaders like Lallemand Health Solutions, Chr. Hansen, Kerry, BENEO, NutriLeads and ADM.

A new generation of fermented foods balance nutrition and flavor

Fermented foods have been around for thousands of years but are making a comeback due to their health benefits and taste. Precision fermentation is a modern version that helps create protein-rich and nutritious ingredients with the potential to revolutionize the food industry. Nick Collias finds notable new products like protein-powered bread from EQUII and mycoprotein by the Better Meat Co. leading the charge.

Built to last: Can foods and beverages enhanced with biotics survive for the long haul?

Producing tasty options that promote a healthy microbiome is no easy feat, but companies are developing numerous strategies to overcome the challenges. The overall goal? Making sure biotic ingredients survive processing and storage and reach the gut alive and in sufficient numbers. Kimberly J. Decker discovered how probiotic suppliers continue to search for hardy strains that tolerate processing and digestive-tract conditions, and how brands are turning to creative workarounds like strategically modified packaging to ensure ingredient viability and survival.

Functional beverages, snacks target the microbiome

The market for gut-friendly food and beverage options continues its climb, and brands are turning to functional ingredients like prebiotic fibers and botanicals to promote more diverse microbiota. Brands BelliWelli, Health-Ade and OLIPOP touch on trendy nostalgic flavors and natural ingredients in this Q&A coordinated by Melissa Kvidahl Reilly.

Examples of biotics takeaways for your business include:

  • Different probiotic strains within the same species can have varying effects on the body, such as supporting digestion, immune function and overall gut health.

  • Formulators do not have to make adaptations for live colony forming units (CFUs) when using postbiotics, making them suitable for applications that experience harsh processing conditions.

  • A 2022 consumer survey from the International Food Information Council found prebiotics are approaching probiotics in awareness, with 22% and 32% of U.S. consumers claiming familiarity with prebiotics and probiotics, respectively.

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