Does probiotic stay alive after their consumption?
In this brief article, we will address the query “Does probiotic stay alive after their consumption?” Additionally, we will present relevant information like how new products ensure probiotic survival, the health benefits of probiotics, and how to choose an appropriate probiotic supplement.
Does probiotic stay alive after their consumption?
In theory, not all probiotics stay alive after its consumption, many of the probiotics consumed will not survive at the low pH of the hydrochloric acid of your stomach (1).
Fortunately, industries are using new technologies in their products to ensure the survival of at least a therapeutic amount of probiotics (1).
What factors affect the survival of probiotics?
Probiotics are very sensitive to many factors, for example (1,2,3):
- Oxygen exposure
- Low pH
- Antimicrobial and antibiotics
- Storage time (in manufactured products)
These factors can influence the survival of probiotics during the processing, storage, and digestion of foods.
How do scientists achieve the survival of probiotics in food products?
Nowadays, food technologists use different processes to ensure the survival of probiotics in food products. A common technique to ensure probiotic survival is known as microencapsulation (1).
Microencapsulation refers to a process where probiotics are covered with a “layer”, made with some food grade ingredient like alginate, pectin, cellulose, xanthan gum, or gelatin (1).
The “layer” formed during the microencapsulation provides protection against oxygen and the acid pH of the stomach, helping probiotics to reach alive to your intestine (1).
To make it easier to understand, below is a graphical representation of microencapsulation:
What are probiotics, and what are the most common?
Probiotics are defined as: “live microorganisms that, if present in sufficient amounts in the digestive tract, can confer benefits to the host” Shori (1).
These bacteria are naturally occurring in different foods, the most common are dairy products like yogurt and ripened cheeses; but there are probiotics in other foods such as: sourdough breads, fermented beverages, and fermented vegetables (1).
The most common probiotics are Lactobacillus and bifidobacteria; however, there are a lot of subspecies of these two probiotics, for example (1):
- Lactobacillus: L. casei, L. gasseri, L.acidophilus, L. rhamnosus, L. bulgaricus, L. paracasei.
- Bifidobacterium: B. lactis, B. animalis, B. longum, B. adolescentis, B. breve, B. bifidum.
How do probiotics work in the body?
When probiotics reach your gut, they adhere to your intestine cells, preventing the colonization of pathogenic bacteria. Moreover, once probiotics colonize your gut’s cells, they start with their metabolic activities. Metabolism of probiotics include (4):
- Production of proteins with antibacterial activity that protect you against gastrointestinal infections
- Probiotics produce Conjugated Linoleic Acid with anticancer properties; this molecule can prevent colon, skin, and breast cancer!
- Synthesis of Short Chain Fatty Acids by fermenting fiber. Short Chain Fatty Acids are associated with a lower risk of gastrointestinal diseases, colon cancer, and reducing cholesterol blood levels.
How to choose a probiotic supplement with high survival rates?
If you are going to purchase a probiotic supplement, or a food supplemented with probiotics, go to the ingredients list at the back of the package and see the content of cells.
To ensure that this product will give you a therapeutic effect, it must have 1 billion cells (1,000,000,000) (1).
If the product does not state the number of cells, or is lower than 1 billion cells, it is probable that you will not have a therapeutic effect with that product (1).
Can probiotics be consumed through food sources?
Yes! here are some probiotic food sources, the most common are dairy products, but you can also found non-dairy food sources (5):
- Tempeh (soybean)
- Ngari (fish)
- Fermented sausages
- Fermented beverages
- Sourdough bread
In this brief article, we addressed the query “Does probiotic stay alive after its consumption?” Additionally, we presented relevant information like how new products ensure probiotic survival, the health benefits of probiotics, and how to choose an appropriate probiotic supplement.
- Shori AB. Microencapsulation improved probiotics survival during gastric transit. Hayati, 2017;24(1):1–5.
- Palanivelu J, Thanigaivel S, Vickram S, Dey N, Mihaylova D, Desseva I. Probiotics in functional foods: Survival assessment and approaches for improved viability. Appl Sci, 2022;12(1):455.
- Torp AM, Bahl MI, Boisen A, Licht TR. Optimizing oral delivery of next generation probiotics. Trends Food Sci Technol, 2022;119:101–9.
- Teame T, Wang A, Xie M, Zhang Z, Yang Y, Ding Q, et al. Paraprobiotics and postbiotics of probiotic Lactobacilli, their positive effects on the host and action mechanisms: A review. Front Nutr, 2020;7:570344.
- Min M, Bunt CR, Mason SL, Hussain MA. Non-dairy probiotic food products: An emerging group of functional foods. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr, 2019;59(16):2626–41.