Probiotics are going to take over your grocery store shelves over the next several years and were not just talking yogurt, kefir and kombucha tea. The probiotic industry while still in its infancy in the United States, is ramping up quickly as consumers become more health conscious and focus more on prevention rather than paying for rising healthcare costs. Beyond it’s ability to improve gut health and strengthen immunity, probiotics are being studied for skin, dental and mental health, weight management, allergy reduction and disease management such as lowering cholesterol. As a result you will be seeing probiotics pop up in toothpaste, lotion, cleaners and soaps. In foods they’ll be appearing in just about everything including infant formula, cheese, muffins, sausages, snack bars, candy, ice cream, chocolates and probiotic straws to name a few.
Probiotics are already widely used in Europe and some parts of Asia, with the United States playing catchup. Statista reports the following sales change (U.S. dollars, in billions) from 2010 to 2015 for prebiotic and probiotic use. Western Europe has grown at a rate of 19% from 2010 to 2015, Japan 6%, Asia Pacific 67%, Latin America 60%, North America 35% and Eastern Europe 92%.
How Much is Enough?
There is no recommended daily amount, but research suggests aiming for 1 billion to 10 billion live bacteria cultures, which are measured in Colony Forming Units or CFUs. Many foods will not contain the bacteria counts on the food labels so look for “live and active cultures” in their absence. Generally one serving of yogurt daily puts you in this range. Do use caution if chosing a probiotic in the form of a dietary supplement as they do not need FDA approval before being marketed. I always suggest working with a licensed pharmacist when purchasing any type of dietary supplement as they can help safely guide you through the plethora of options, both good and bad, in the absence of government oversight.
Why I Prefer Yogurt
In addition to probiotics, yogurt contains energy in the form of carbohydrates and if you chose wisely, you can avoid excess added sugars. An Icelandic Style Skyr (Siggi’s) or Greek (Chobani) yogurt contributes the protein equivalent of 2 ounces of meat and 20% of your daily value for calcium in the absence of fat. Smart mix-ins includes fresh fruit and oats, chia or flax seeds or a thumb tips worth of granola as many are loaded with sugar and fat.
If you are considering a probiotic dietary supplement, The United States Department of Health and Human Services, National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health offers the following guidelines:
- Don’t use probiotics as a reason to delay seeing your doctor about a healthcare problem.
- If you chose to use a probiotic dietary supplement, consult your physician especially if you have other health care problems.
- If you’re pregnant or nursing a child, or considering giving a child a dietary supplement, consult your physician first.
Although the research has shown great promise, the United States Food and Drug Administration has not approved any probiotics for the prevention or treatment of any health problem. Unfortunately, the manufacturing and marketing of the probiotic industry is outpacing scientific research on its proposed uses and benefits. Until the evidence based science catches up, the grocery store and supplement aisles are going to grow murky with the stuff. Meanwhile a well balanced diet, including yogurt is a healthy approach.
Full Disclosure: I am a Siggi’s Brand Ambassador and enjoy it daily!
Categories: Nutrition & Wellness