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There was an interesting article today in Natural Products Insider on the growing trend of probiotic functional foods and supplements for digestive health and wellness. Basically, probiotic bacteria colonize the intestine and promote better digestion as well as discourage harmful bacteria from taking hold.

PROBIOTIC FOODS and SUPPLEMENTS

Common probiotic foods include yogurt and kefir, and probiotic content tends to vary from brand to brand.  Many fermented and cultured foods such as saurkraut, kimchee and cheese are considered probiotic as well.  Supplements are – well, supplements:  pills and powders with concentrated nutrition to be ingested by themselves of mixed with foods.

FUNCTIONAL FOODS vs SUPPLEMENTS

Supplements may deliver a concentrated nutrition punch, but is this effectively absorbed by the body, or does alot pass through?  A great debate.  I’ve definitely taken Vitamins that seem to largely pass through (it’s an olfactory observation). Real, whole food offers something many dietary supplements could not offer, they all have an experiential quality whether through taste or physiological effect. This holds true according to market studies.

“According to FMI/Prevention data, more shoppers opt to use functional foods and beverages than dietary supplements. In fact, nine out of 10 shoppers prefer naturally nutritious foods to supplements (FMI/Prevention HealthFocus, 1999). Buoyed by positive media coverage (80%), 59% of people claim to be eating up to three foods for their functional benefits, 93% believe certain foods have health benefits that may reduce the risk of disease and 86% are interested in learning more about functional foods (IFIC, 2000). Consumers are incorporating more functional foods in their diet, representing a shift from eliminating the bad (fat, sodium, calories) to adding the good into their food. Seventy-six percent of shoppers reported using functional foods in the last year (NMI, 2000).” (Geomatrix article)

Traditionally foods have provided for us either taste/convenience benefits or nutrition/enhancement utility. But functional foods and beverages offer the consumer both and address their increasing concerns about diet by offering the nutritional solutions sought in dietary supplements with the taste and pleasure of “traditional” foods.

PROBIOTIC EFFICACY

In order to work, probiotic bacteria need to effectively colonize the intestine.  This is where PREbiotic soluble fiber can really help.  It helps to create an environment where the bacteria will thrive and work their magic by improving digestion and nutrient uptake.

BAOBAB FRUIT PULP

Atacora Baobab is an excellent source of prebiotic fiber.  It also pairs very well with yogurt and kefir (see some Baobab recipes) for a “SYN-BIOTIC” positive digestive effect. Its antioxidants, vitamins and minerals may be better absorbed due to this effect.  Baobab is also a delicious, whole functional food, not a supplement.  There is a whole list of reasons why it is a great addition to the diet.  It could be probiotics’ best new friend!

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