Probiotic Prebiotic Products Are Booming

Remember when yogurt was the only food that promoted probiotics? “Live and active cultures,” according to the label. But much like yeasty bread dough in a warm room, probiotics are expanding into a myriad of other sectors in the food marketplace.

Having a healthy microbiome of gut bacteria is seen as fundamental to overall health with probiotics being part of a diet that promotes that microbiome. And food manufacturers are taking notice.

In the refrigerated section of the local grocer, kombucha, drinking vinegars, kvas and other microbe-laden drinks are elbowing their way into consumer consciousness. Kimchi, sauerkraut and other fermented foods are appearing on more and more dinner tables. And now, shelf-stable products are beginning to show up, from the cereal aisle to the cookie aisle. Functional probiotic ingredients are being added to soups, nut butters, oatmeal, granola, and nutrition bars. New strains of probiotics, such as Bacillus coagulans GBI-30 and Bacillus coagulans MTCC 5856, are making all these applications possible.

Prebiotics are catching on as well; although, many consumers are unaware exactly what they are. A Harris poll found that while 29 percent knew what prebiotics are, only 15 percent knew about prebiotics. But any Googler worth their salt can turn up a quick search that defines prebiotic as the dietary fiber that feeds the good bacteria in the gut.

So why the boom in the probiotic/prebiotic food market? According to the National Institutes of Health’s Human Microbiome Project, a person’s microbiome may influence many of the body’s systems, from cardiopulmonary health to circadian rhythms and sleep cycles to clearer skin. It’s possible that almost any and every aspect of our health could be affected by the presence and makeup of bacteria in the body.

And as consumers become more and more health conscious, demand for food and drink that promotes health and nutrition with a dose of pre- and probiotics will only expand.