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Expanding Applications for Pre- & Probiotics

Albion Minerals®
Bacteria Bacteria

Probiotics are mainstream, prebiotics are on the rise, and synbiotics are the next big thing.

Data from the 2012 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) shows that approximately four million U.S. adults had used probiotics in the past 30 days. “Among adults, probiotics or prebiotics were the third most commonly used dietary supplement other than vitamins and minerals, and the use of probiotics quadrupled between 2007 and 2012,” the National Institute of Health (NIH) reported.

In addition, the NIH said consumers are searching for probiotics and prebiotics in order to aid in a variety of health problems including digestive disorders, allergic disorders, oral health, liver disease, colic in infants and even the common cold.

State of the Market

The consumer demand for these products is growing rapidly, resulting from a combination of media exposure, industry marketing of the developing, favorable research and physician recommendations, said Nena Dockery, technical services manager, of Missouri-based Stratum Nutrition. “Probiotics are one segment of the dietary supplement industry for which the benefits are universally accepted by standard medicine, especially for use following antibiotic regimens.”

With the awareness of probiotics on the rise, consumer demand appears to be for safe, natural remedies which can help in the treatment and prevention of various diseases, said Dr. M. Ratna Sudha, managing director of India-based Unique Biotech Limited. Consumers are also demanding clinically proven, scientifically documented probiotic strains with the promised shelf life, he continued.

Probiotic foods and beverages are the dominant segments in the global market and are expected to have a compound annual growth rate of 6.8 percent from 2013 to 2018, Sudha said. In addition, the food and beverage segment of the probiotic market is estimated to reach $37.9 billion USD in 2018.

Growth has been augmented by several factors, Dockery said. These factors involve stability and shelf life, as well as the introduction of spore-forming bacterial species that can flourish under much wider environmental conditions.

Spore-forming Strengths

Though [spore-forming] species are not normally indigenous to the human body, some do colonize in the gut and provide benefits to human health, said Dockery. “They are much more tolerable to variations in heat and moisture, making them better suited for inclusion in a diverse line of non-refrigerated food products.”

A stable, spore-forming probiotic like Bascillus coagulans Unique IS2, by Unique Biotech, is ideal for use in food products as its natural encapsulation makes it a hardy probiotic, capable of withstanding a wide range of temperatures and processes. It can withstand boiling, baking and freezing temperatures” and has a wide application in the food industry because of that, Sudha said.

BIO-CAT Microbials, based in Virginia, harnessed the natural spore state of the Bacillus organism, which is stable to a wide variety of environmental factors, in the company’s product Opti-biome Bacillus subtilis MB40. The applications for Opti-Biome are numerous, said Chris Penet, vice president of BIO-CAT Microbials. Applications include powder drink mixes, baked goods, confection and dairy.

“Our product has shown to be synergistic in the lab with other conventional probiotics, thus increasing the benefits from multi-strain products,” Penet said.

According to Mike Bush, president of Ohio-based Ganeden and executive board president of International Probiotics Association (IPA), the company’s GanedenBC30 probiotic ingredient can survive through most of the manufacturing processes without requiring special technologies or changes to manufacturing processes. It is a spore-forming strain of bacteria, and the natural protective spore makes it highly stable and allows for viability throughout manufacturing, shelf life (up to three years) and the gastric acidity of the stomach, he noted.

“Because of its survivability, GanedenBC30 is providing consumers with functional foods, beverages and companion animal products that were never available before, containing a safe and effective probiotic,” Bush said. “GanedenBC30 is easily integrated into virtually any food or beverage and is one of the only probiotics that can be added to foods and beverages outside of refrigerated dairy.”

GanedenBC30 is currently found in more than 300 leading food, beverage and companion animal products throughout the world. In addition to 60+ new probiotic product SKUs presented at Natural Products Expo West 2016, Ganeden has also conducted lab studies on prebiotics, showing that GanedenBC30 can help them perform better, Bush continued.

Processing Advancements

Improvements in manufacturing processes that increase both shelf stability and survival through the body’s digestive processes have improved the suitability of probiotics for use in products to improve human health, Dockery said.

Probiotics are living microorganisms that thrive in the body where conditions are warm and moist with ample sources of nutrients. In storage, where nutrient sources are not available, introduction of heat and/or moisture causes the bacteria to grow and reproduce, but subsequently die for lack of nutrients, Dockery explained. Therefore, the preferred storage condition for most probiotics is cool to refrigerated and dry to ensure dormancy until they enter the body. “Use in conventional foods is limited to refrigerated products, such as yogurt, that are a natural growth media for several species of probiotic bacteria.”

But recently, advances in different avenues, such as coatings, encapsulations, packaging and more, have extended the shelf stability of probiotics. “Manufacturing processes using coatings or microencapsulation techniques have helped ensure survival of probiotics through the acidic environment of the stomach, enabling them to provide positive benefits in the intestine. In addition, improvements in packaging, such as blister packs have helped improve shelf stability,” Dockery revealed.

Spore-forming bacteria as probiotics have also expanded the possibilities for food inclusion. They have their own protective “shell” (endospore) enabling them to survive the very harsh conditions of heat and moisture, Dockery noted. Therefore, they can be included in many conventional food products, such as cereals and bars.

As a result of advances in the spore-forming bacteria as well as improvements in protective coatings the use of probiotics in non-refrigerated foods has increased. There has also been a trend toward emphasizing strain specificity in research and marketing of probiotics for targeted uses, Dockery said.

The gut microbiota play a very important role in defining our health status, Sudha added. Eubiosis or the proper balance of bacteria strongly influences the healthy status and any imbalance leads to dysbiosis and diseases.

Sue Hewlings, chief science officer at Oklahoma-based IgY Nutrition, said, “It has been suggested that probiotics play a role in correcting the dysbiosis. However, they are not strain specific and since dysbiosis can present differently in each person they may not always address the imbalance.”

“Probiotics are not all alike,” NIH said. “For example, if a specific kind of Lactobacilllus helps prevent an illness, that doesn’t necessarily mean that another kind of Lactobacillus would have the same effect, or that any of the Bifidobacterium probiotics would do the same thing.”

Digestive Health

Digestive wellness is becoming one of the top global trends in the market, 70 million of U.S. consumers are using digestive health products, and 44 million are taking a probiotic, Hewlings noted. “Due primarily to information obtained through new research, consumer awareness of the connection between gut health and overall well-being is increasing.”

An additional trend in the digestive health market is the recognition that across generations, consumers are utilizing digestive health products and therefore marketing goals have shifted from a primarily older market, Hewlings observed.

In relation to prebiotics though, Hewlings noted that even with increased awareness of probiotics, consumers have very little knowledge about benefits of prebiotics, or the combination of pre- and probiotics. “There is a need for more education from suppliers to customers, and it starts with more clinical research,” she said.

IgY Max, made by IgY, is a polyvalent antigen specific IgY product targeting 26 of the most common human-relevant pathogens. Other IgY products only target one pathogen, making them monovalent. IgY Max is a unique digestive and immune function ingredient that promotes GI (gastrointestinal) health by increasing gut wall integrity, improving bowel function and reducing non-beneficial bacteria adherence, and in doing so functions much like a prebiotic.

Made of hyperimmune egg powder, it is much like a prebiotic in that it changes the composition and activity of the microbiome, Hewlings said. “Moreover IgY Max is able to exert its activity within the entire length of the GI tract. Due to its mechanism of action, IgY Max is an effective tool to address issues caused by dysbiosis.”

Oral Health

Another area of use of probiotics for applications beyond gut health is oral health. Research focusing on protection derived from bacteria that colonize in the mouth has led to intense investigation into the supplementation of select bacterial strains designed to complement the microbiome of the oral variety, Dockery shared. “These probiotics help protect us from a host of invaders that daily try to make our bodies their home.”

Stratum Nutrition specializes in probiotic strains indigenous to the oral cavity and designed to support health in multiple ways. BLIS K12 is a rare strain of Streptococcus salivarius, one of the common species of bacteria found in the mouths of healthy individuals.

Studies conducted predominately in children, have demonstrated its benefits to throat and ear health. In addition, BLIS K12 has also been shown to assist in controlling bad breath caused by the overabundance of volatile sulfur-producing bacteria in the mouth.

In addition to BLIS K12, Stratum also markets BLIS M18, another rare strain of S. salivarius found naturally in the oral cavity of about 2 percent of the population, according to the company. “This probiotic helps decrease periodontal inflammation and protects the teeth and gums from undesirable bacteria that contribute to plaque buildup and tooth decay.


The growth of prebiotics has been slower than probiotics, Dockery noted. “Mostly due to the lack of consumer understanding of their purpose. The growth is steady, however, as companies continue to convey the message of the benefits of prebiotics both as additions to probiotic formulations (synbiotics) and as standalone products designed to feed the body’s indigenous microbiota.”

While the prebiotic market has been dominated by fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS), inulin, etc., in recent times the prebiotic market has seen some innovative concepts coming up, said Shaheen Majeed, marketing director of New Jersey-based Sabinsa.

“Very recently Sabinsa and Fruit d’Or (Quebec, Canada) launched a new symbiotic product called LactoCran. This is a customized product containing LactoSpore (Bacillus coagulans MTCC5856) as probiotic and cranberry seed powder as prebiotic. This specific combination was carefully designed to deliver the optimum nutrition to B. coagulans, which showed more growth in the presence of cranberry seed powder,” Majeed explained.

While the science of prebiotic feeding probiotics is not new, scientists at Sabinsa also focused on using the right prebiotic for its strain to optimize probiotic benefits. “Sabinsa zeroed in on a few fibers which provide optimum nutrition to B. coagulans in the gut, such as FenuFibers and cranberry seed powder. These fibers have shown better growth of B. coagulans than regular inulins and FOS.”

Recently, Fruit d’Or Nutraceuticals launched Choco Cran, the world’s first cranberry probiotic organic chocolate peanut butter cup. Each Choco Cran contains prebiotic, probiotic and protein, as well as fatty acids omega 3, 6 and 9. Choco Cran contains LactoCran, one of the first of its kind symbiotic, tailored to suit specific formulation demands, Majeed shared.

The chocolate presents both the benefits of probiotic LactoSpore and prebiotic benefits of cranberry seeds.


“In the not so distant past, the foods of many of our relatives consumer came directly from the farm or local markets and naturally contained a wide diversity of beneficial bacteria. However, advances in sterilization and pasteurization methods contributed to the removal of the natural microbial content in foods. In addition, prebiotic fiber content was much higher before the era of refined foods and advanced processing techniques.

“Other factors,” Dockery continued, “including the Western fast food diet, as well as overuse of antibiotics and antimicrobial cleansers have contributed to the necessity of pre-/probiotic supplementation to improve immune and gut health.”

“Oral and upper respiratory health can be detrimentally affects by an unhealthy microbiome in the oral cavity caused not only by poor diet or lack of dental hygiene, but also by medications or even antimicrobial mouthwashes,” Dockery said.

Probiotics are generally recognized as safe (GRAS) and have a long history of use with no known toxicity. With so many products adding pre- and probiotics to final products, the question some consumers may ask is, is there a possibility for over consumption of pre- and probiotics? “I do not see the possibility of overconsumption happening unless the customer is selectively consuming only foods fortified with probiotics throughout the day,” Sudha said.

“There is a limit to the number and kinds of bacteria that would exert a positive effect in the gut. It would be possible to reach a point where more isn’t better. Consumption of too much fiber, even prebiotic fiber, in most cases would be self-limiting because of expected intestinal side effects of gas, bloating and discomfort,” Dockery shared.

Bush noted that consumers can take a variety of probiotic products daily without concern for adverse effects. “Our safety level is so high that manufacturers have not come close to it.”

It is important to do your homework though, Hewlings warned. For example, patients with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) have shown a reduction in Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium and may benefit from consuming probiotics containing more of these. “Be sure that there is sound, scientific evidence that the specific strain being consumed is appropriate for the specific indication. Yes, people may benefit from having more of one strain than the other for a specific condition, however research on the exact balance needed is still evolving.”

To the Future

Pre- and probiotics cover a wide range of applications from immunity, digestive health, oral health, renal health, inflammation, diabetes, obesity, cancer, cardiovascular diseases and even in sports nutrition. Topical applications for wound healing, acne etc. are also available. Evidence linking the gut to the brain axis has led to the discovery of probiotics as physchobiotics with application in treatment of depression, anxiety and autism, Sudha shared.

“Which Bacillus coagulans we have explored a variety of food applications including gummies, mixes for frozen yogurts, breads, cookies, coffee, chocolates, health bars, candies, soups, juices … the possibilities really are endless,” Majeed said.

“In our view, [the state of the market] is still limited due to stability issues for the traditional probiotics. Growing certainly as supplements, but limited in food applications where shelf life claims are still an issue,” said BIO-CAT’s Penet.

Overall, the market is thriving and continuing to expand as new applications and advancements are made to maintain the pre- and probiotic strains being sent into the body. “The global market of probiotic ingredients, supplements and foods is growing and expected to reach $36.7 billion in 2018, according to Wellesley, MA-based technology markets research firm BCC Research,” Bush shared.

“One thing is sure,” Hewlings said, “having a diverse microbiome is the key to a healthy gut. So adding good bacteria, such as probiotics or nutrients for the bacteria to flourish the prebiotics, is very beneficial to your digestive health.” NIE

For More Information:
BIO-CAT Microbials, (877) 912-4622
Ganeden, (440) 229-5200
IgY Nutrition, (405) 242-5381
Sabinsa, (732) 777-1111
Stratum Nutrition, (888) 403-5039
Unique Biotech Limited, +91 40-23751345

Albion Minerals®