Discover more from The Well
4 Big Questions on Probiotics for Food Scientist, Rachel Dannemeyer
Plus: An RD’s 6 favorite ways to add probiotics to your diet
Photo by amirali mirhashemian on Unsplash
Want to delve deeper into the science and functionality of foods? Food scientists can be some of the best resources for separating fact from fiction.
I reached out to Rachel Dannemeyer, owner of Drink Me Taste Solutions, a beverage product development and consultation business, to get the scoop on probiotics.
Rachel Dannemeyer is a Certified Food Scientist through the Institute of Food Technologists. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry from Valparaiso University and a Master’s degree in Food Science from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She holds a Certification in Business Administration through the University of Illinois-Chicago, and is a member of the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics.
The Well: Probiotics has become a buzz word and more products are marketed in this category, creating confusion among consumers. Can you share some basics and clear up common misconceptions?
Dannemeyer: It is important to distinguish between the words “probiotics,”“prebiotics,” and “postbiotics.” All three help the gut microbiome, but in different ways.
Probiotics are healthy bacteria. The gut microbiome is full of both healthy and unhealthy bacteria (present through improperly cleaned or prepared food or anything put in the mouth). About 70% of the immune system is housed in the gut. So, when unhealthy bacteria overpopulate the gut, this leads to decreased immunity, nervous system disorders (i.e. increased anxiety), autoimmune disorders, gastrointestinal disorders (like IBS), and other symptoms. Probiotics help change the balance of the gut to a healthier bacteria population. This leads to an increased immune health, and digestive health. It is important to note that each person reacts to probiotics individually.
From personal experience, I changed my probiotic supplement brand, and within 3 days, I was starting to experience bloating, sickness, and general digestive discomfort. Within 3 days of switching back to my original brand of probiotics, I felt completely better and none of those symptoms persisted. So, just because a product contains probiotics, doesn’t mean that it will resolve the symptoms or issues that you are experiencing.
The Well: What types of products get the "live active cultures" label, and does the product need the label to be a good probiotic food or beverage choice?
Dannemeyer: Most food and beverage products are treated with heat when being produced to create a safe and stable product. Heat kills off most probiotics. This type of designation is for yogurt products that have been heat treated before they are fermented to encourage growth of the good bacteria. The “live and active cultures” label is for yogurt products only, but it does not mean that other food and beverage products do not have “live active cultures”. This just means for yogurt products, a specific number of probiotics have been validated when the product was manufactured. The “Live Active Cultures” seal is provided by the International Dairy Foods Association. Non-dairy products can have live active cultures but will not be able to carry this seal. The product does not need to carry the label to be a good choice. But it might not be the best choice either. A product could claim a certain amount of probiotics were added to the product before it was heat processed. But after heat processing and by the time it gets to the consumer the product actually has far less [probiotics] than was originally claimed. Most companies will have an indication on their label guaranteeing a certain amount of probiotics by the end of the shelf life or by saying that they test the product after heat processing. Not all companies do this, so pay attention to the label.
The Well: What are your favorite beverages containing probiotics, and where can people find them?
Dannemeyer: I have been taking Phillips Colon Health every day for the past 9 years. I attribute this as one of the factors in getting me to remission with my Crohn’s Disease. I also take Happy V products for feminine health (they help prevent against UTIs). Greek yogurt is also one of my go-to snacks, and I like frozen yogurt better than ice cream for the occasional treat.
The Well: Can you tell our readers what types of topics you cover in your newsletter and where else they can find you online and offline?
Dannemeyer: I founded Drink Me Taste Solutions as a beverage product development firm specializing in developing natural, functional beverages. I believe that creating great tasting functional beverages starts with the consumer’s knowledge of functional ingredients, since the consumer is the one driving change in the industry. There are too many bloggers, influencers, etc. that spout poor information about functional ingredients and the beverage industry. I want to provide a perspective of a food scientist to be able to give accurate information to the consumer. My blog provides product reviews and scientifically sound information on functional ingredients.
You can find me on:
Substack at www.drinkme.substack.com
Instagram and Facebook @drinkmetastesolutions.
If you are looking to create a great tasting beverage, you can find more information on my website: www.drinkmetastesolutions.com
6 Ways to Add Probiotics to Your Diet
Photo by Daily Nouri on Unsplash
Probiotics are fascinating, made of good live bacteria and/or yeast, and they play an important role in our health by supporting immune function and controlling inflammation among other roles. There are potential health benefits from increasing the amount of probiotics in your body through food, drinks or supplements. It’s important to note that probiotics also need prebiotics in order to thrive. Think of prebiotics as the food for probiotics. Prebiotics are complex carbohydrates that feed the good bacteria and keep it healthy. Prebiotics include insulin, pectin and resistant starches.
As a registered dietitian, I’m often asked about probiotics and the best ways to add them into one’s diet. The strategy is really individualized per client; however, here are some of my favorite ways to add probiotics into your regular routine:
Tempeh, made from fermented soybeans that are compressed, this meat substitute is firm but chewy. It can be prepared many different ways such as baking, steaming or sautéing.
Sauerkraut (refrigerated) or Kimchi, fermented cabbage or other fermented vegetable dishes are a great way boost the nutrition on your plate.
Probiotic Yogurt, while all yogurt is produced from milk that has been fermented, not all yogurts contain probiotics because the beneficial bacteria is often killed during processing. Look for yogurts that contain live cultures to ensure that you are getting the probiotic benefit.
Kefir, a cultured dairy product that is made by adding kefir grains (a combination of yeast and bacteria) to milk. This beverage has a similar taste profile to yogurt and can also be high in added sugars. Look at the label to choose an option that has lower amounts of added sugar.
Kombucha, a fermented tea that is bubbly and tart, is typically made from either green or black tea. Kombucha, like Kefir, comes in different flavors and therefore also contains various amounts of sugar.
Probiotic supplements come in various forms like pills, powders and liquids and might be a good fit for some individuals. It’s important to keep in mind that dietary supplements do not need to be approved by the Food & Drug Administration. If you are considering a probiotic supplement, it’s vital to do some research on the option that is the best fit for you. It’s always best to talk with your healthcare provider before adding a new supplement to your daily routine.
Note: Specific populations should be very careful when considering adding probiotic supplements to their routine, including those who have a weakened immune system, recently had surgery or are going through a critical illness.
How do you add probiotics to your diet? Let us know in the comments!