Chocolate, oils and dairy-based toppings are ideal carriers for prebiotics and probiotics.
Many high-volume bakers are successful in promoting the healthful benefits in bakery foods. Because of this accomplishment, many consumers now seek high fiber, whole grains and vitamin and mineral enrichment in bakery foods. Healthful bakery foods are experiencing increasing sales, while other baking categories remain stagnant.
To gain an edge in this growing market, many bakers are formulating with non-traditional ingredients in order to boost health value. These ingredients may be nutraceuticals, among which are probiotics and prebiotics.
These ingredients have yet to gain the popularity in the United States that they experience in Europe. However, many bakers sell bakery foods that contain probiotics and prebiotics in European and Asian stores and supermarkets.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United States (FAO) defines probiotics as "live microorganisms administered in adequate amounts which confer a beneficial health effect on the host." In layman's terms, "probiotics take up space in the large intestine," one probiotics supplier says. "When that space is filled with beneficial bacteria, it keeps out the pathogenic bacteria. These beneficial bacteria increase the health of the immune system."
Most probiotics are small, single-celled organisms—bacteria. Bacteria is classified into genus, species and strain names. One common baking probiotics is Saccharomyces boulardii, also known as a type of yeast.
Probiotics are healthful bacteria that improve microbial balance in the intestine. Probiotics help the body digest food, synthesize vitamins and protect against infections. The ingredient must survive and be alive in the large intestine in order to be effective.
Prebiotics are nondigestible ingredients that selectively stimulate the growth and activity of bacteria in the colon. They are necessary for probiotics to achieve growth. In order to be effective, prebiotics must avoid digestion in the upper gastrointestinal tract and be used by microorganisms in the colon. Prebiotics typically are oligosaccharides, and include Fructo-oligosaccharides, inulins, Isomaltooligosaccharides, lactilol, lactosucrose, lactulose, pyrodextrins, soy oligosaccharides, transgalacto-oligosaccharides and xylo-oligosaccharides.
FAO asks that probiotics and prebiotics be stored safely so the bacteria is able to maintain its effectiveness and potency until it is consumed. This requires bakers to take responsible approaches to ensure the effectiveness of probiotics. One common challenge with probiotic formulation is the ingredient's sensitivity to heat, humidity and oxygen. Encapsulation protects these ingredients in the body and in bakery foods. One manufacturer recommends that bakers incorporate these ingredients into bakery foods through dairy-based fillings and toppings, chocolate and oil.
Before formulating with probiotics and prebiotics, bakers must gain an understanding of how these ingredients impact function and taste. To accomplish this, bakers should work closely with their suppliers and research development staffs to ensure maximum potency without negative tastes.
Bakers also should understand how to label these ingredients. For example, not all nutraceutical ingredients are approved for bakery formulations.
Bakery foods are ideal applications for probiotics and prebiotics. One ingredient supplier offers prebiotic ingredients that that formulate sugar-free, low-glycemic and low calorie bakery foods.
Probiotics and health
Ancient folklore suggests that fermented dairy products containing live cultures are healthful. Today, we know this is true and probiotics are part of a healthful lifestyle. Probiotics support the immune system and research says that probiotics are functional to the elderly or people with ineffective immune functions. Probiotics also affect infections. Some microbial, infections, such as injestion of Ecoli, are able to be treated with probiotics.
Probiotics decrease the incidence and duration of many types of diarrheal sicknesses. One such type is Lactobacillus. Probiotics also alleviate symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease.
However, probiotics run into trouble when a consumer is taking antibiotics. Antibiotics kill harmful bacteria, but often eliminate healthful bacteria as well. This results in painful cramping in the abdominal area. Research suggests that the addition of probiotics after taking antibiotics prevents gastrointestinal distress.
Probiotics also alleviate symptoms of allergies, including lactose intolerance, other food allergies and atopic exzema. Other helpful benefits include alleviation and elimination of urinary tract infections, prevention of caries in the mouth and prevention of bladder cancer.
Types of prebiotics
Fructo-oligosaccharides, inulins, Isomaltooligosaccharides, lactilol, lactosucrose, lactulose, pyrodextrins, soy oligosaccharides, transgalacto-oligosaccharides and xylooligosaccharides are all considered prebiotics, helping probiotics achieve growth.
Formulating with probiotics, prebiotics
Because these ingredients are heat, humidity and oxygen sensitive, bakers may want to add probiotics and prebiotics after the product is baked. These ingredients then remain viable for several weeks. Most probiotic and prebiotic bacteria is destroyed during baking, but the metabolic byproducts of their fermentation has a positive effect on health.
Probiotics and prebiotics should be incorporated at low levels in bakery formulations. Bakers also should monitor the bakery products' structure and color, and ensure that the probiotic and prebiotic ingredients are approved for use in the United States or where the item is being sold.