Why is Digestive Health a Vital Option for Overall Health in Food Service Offerings?
As we continue to learn more about how gut health can help support our overall health, consumers are increasingly searching for healthier options when purchasing food service items for consumption outside the home. Understanding the connection between gut health and immunity can help consumers choose foods and beverages fortified with healthful ingredients like probiotics, and allow manufacturers to meet this demand.
Researchers are discovering that the digestive system and the immune system are closely linked. While the digestive system breaks down the food we eat into nutrients and byproducts, the immune system works with the digestive system to watch for what is coming into the body, defending against harmful pathogens that could make us sick. The immune system is also a key sensor of what is happening in our whole body, communicating with the body systems to make sure the digestive system is working optimally so that our body digests and absorbs nutrients. The gut microbiome, present in the digestive tract, works with both these body systems, facilitating digestion and waste processing on the one hand and providing metabolites that are important for optimal functioning of immune cells on the other hand. Clearly, the food choices we make have an influence on our overall well-being—and consumers are increasingly choosing food service options that support their health.
A Balancing Act
We don’t always think about our digestive system—at least not until it stops performing optimally for us. That’s when we sit up and take notice. In fact, a recent study shows over half (56%) of global consumers say they want to learn more about improving their digestive health. While the drivers for this may be related to a search for ways to minimize the effects of common digestive ailments, this trend seems to be part of a larger interest in maintaining overall health by maintaining gut health. So, for optimal health, we have to keep our gut in check. How? By maintaining the proper balance of different types of bacteria in the digestive tract. One of the best ways to do this is to make food and beverage choices that provide probiotic benefits to support digestive health.
The Role of Probiotics
Probiotics can support digestive and immune health by playing a strong role in helping to maintain the balance of the gut microbiome. As we understand the connection between digestive and immune health, probiotics are increasingly becoming a viable ingredient in food service options consumers want. As well, immune health is one of the more commonly studied aspects of health outcomes associated with probiotics.
Substantial research on GanedenBC30® shows that it benefits both digestive and immune health. It is important to remember that the benefit will depend on the specific strain of probiotic being studied. Any claims made for a probiotic must be substantiated by studies using that strain.
While it’s clear that one of the best ways to maintain gut health is to eat a healthy, balanced diet, a recent consumer survey shows that worldwide, consumers are interested in additional options for maintaining digestive health.
Specifically, 47% found foods and beverages fortified with ingredients that support digestive health appealing, and 44% reported intent to act on interest by seeking out these products. This interest is translating into increasing opportunities to formulate with probiotic ingredients in food service options.
In today’s changing world, dining options are changing too. With increased focus on maintaining health, consumers are choosing on-the-go and delivery options with reduced contact, and interestingly, are generally choosing foods and beverages with a ‘better-for-you’ health halo as well.
On-menu: digestive and immune health benefits
Feel-good and functional food trends now exert a powerful influence on food service markets, and when diners think about healthy eating, they think about general wellness. For manufacturers in the food service sector, fortifying food and beverage products on offer with probiotic ingredients can help meet consumers’ growing demand for health benefits in the products they purchase specifically for consumption outside of the home.
Because of its spore-forming nature, GanedenBC30 (Bacillus coagulans GBI-30, 6086) can help meet the stringent processing demands of food service items. Here are a few examples of applications that allow food service manufacturers to offer the benefits of probiotics:
On-the-go baked-goods, such as cookies or muffins
The inherent heat-stable nature of probiotics such as GanedenBC30 in spore form allows superior survival over their vegetative counterparts for bakery applications. As heat transfer rates will differ for individual products and processes, survival should be assessed and verified on an individual product basis.
Stability is the primary challenge when considering probiotics for tea and coffee applications. The probiotic will have to survive the manufacturing process, shelf life of the product, and exposure to boiling water used in the preparation of tea or coffee.
For inclusion in a tea bag, for example, a larger particle size may be desirable to retain the probiotic within the tea bag until use, and allow efficient release and dispersion into the beverage on preparation. Formulating with a probiotic in an agglomerated format, such as with GanedenBC30, is one approach to addressing such challenges.
As well, heat-stable probiotics can be added to coffee during the preparation of take-away coffee or in blending in a smoothie in the form of a dispersible powder or liquid.
Survivability of the probiotic is especially important in the high-pressure processing conditions common in creating pre-packaged smoothies. GanedenBC30’s pressure-tolerant nature is essential to the successful formulation of these products. Probiotics can be added to smoothies as an instant powder sachet at the time of preparation, or can be added during blending for pre-packaged take-away products.