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Polysaccharide Gums Keep Probiotics Alive in Yogurt, New Study Finds

October 22, 2015

More companies are building brands around probiotics. The challenge is keeping the probiotic cultures alive in products like yogurt so that consumers get the health benefits they are promised. New research published in the Journal of Nutritional Health & Food Engineering found that specific polysaccharide gums promote the growth of probiotics in yogurt.

“Probiotics are very sensitive to so many stresses,” explained Bernice Karlton-Senaye, PhD, scientist with the North Carolina A&T State University (NCA&T) Center for Excellence in Post-Harvest Technologies on the North Carolina Research Campus (NCRC) in Kannapolis, NC. “The only way for them to give you health benefits is to ingest them when they are alive in large numbers.”

Karlton-Senaye authored the study ““Comparing the Effect of Gums on the Growth of Lactobacillus Species in Laboratory Medium and Fluid Milk,” which demonstrated the effectiveness of introducing polysaccharides to enhance the survival of probiotics without impacting the taste of milk and subsequently yogurt.

yogurtberriesShe examined xanthan, carrageenan, and carrageenan-maltodextrin  on probiotic growth and survival in milk and laboratory medium. Xanthan is excreted from the bacteria Xanthomonas compestris, and carrageenan is extracted from red, edible sea weed. Karlton-Senaye’s reseach illustrated how the long carbon structure and slow digesting, non-degradable nature as well as thickening qualities of both polysaccharides enhanced the resiliency of probiotic cultures.

Although humans are born with natural probiotics in their guts, consuming probiotics from food increases the type of microflora growth that improves digestive health. People need to regularly consume and maintain between one million to up to a billion active probiotic cultures to receive the health benefits.

Hoping to substantially increase the percentage of live probiotics in yogurt and other dairy products, Karlton-Senaye urges food manufacturers to consider applying her findings.

“Some probiotics fight infection, reduce lactose intolerance and some are anti-cancer. They help you in so many ways, but they have to be alive both in food and in the gut,” Karlton-Senaye said. “Keeping probiotics alive will enhance the health of society and improve a company’s market value.”

Learn more about the North Carolina A&T State University Center for Excellence in Post-Harvest Technologies.

 

By Kara Marker, NCRC Marketing

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