Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that reside primarily in the human gut. Prebiotics are non-digestible fibers that serve as a growth medium for probiotic microbes. When paired, a combination known as symbiotics, these ingredients deliver a synergistic punch by delivering the health benefits of probiotics along with the material these microbes use for energy.
Symbiotics have the potential to help with regularity and improve the body’s ability to absorb nutrients. The symbiotic combo has gained traction in dietary supplements and packaged foods. However, until recently, few options in the beverage space offered both consumers. The original symbiotic drink is kombucha, a fermented tea that contains both probiotics and prebiotics. While kombucha has certainly seen its star rise, its fermented flavor and aroma may limit its appeal to a large audience.
Many opportunities to supply symbiotics exist for brands that think beyond kombucha. Whether it’s to appeal to a popular health trend, a specific wellness benefit, or simply to amplify a drink’s health halo, symbiotics hold great untapped potential.
Consider the following synergies with symbiotics:
While sugary drinks may not fall out of favor, sugary drinks come under scrutiny. As more consumers try to reduce or eliminate refined sugar in their diets, beverage brands are turning to alternative sweeteners such as stevia and monk fruit extract to capitalize on the trend. to the reduction of sugar.
Some alternative sweeteners work like prebiotics, such as isomaltooligosaccharide (IMO), a sweetener that is largely non-digestible in the body and provides considerably fewer calories than sucrose. The ingredient is water soluble and creates a mouth feel similar to sugar. By combining IMO with probiotics, beverage brands can deliver a symbiotic product that appeals to consumers’ desire for health benefits and, in particular, sugar reduction.
Clinical research on the relationship between the immune system and the gut microbiome is ongoing, but several studies suggest that probiotics may be useful in regulating immune responses to various factors (Curr Opin Gastroenterol. 2011; 27: 496-501).
This article continues in the digital magazine “Probiotics: Macro trends in microorganisms”. Click on the link to read the entire article.
Jon Copeland is a research strategist at Market place, a strategic partner for food and beverage, pet and animal, and health and wellness brands and businesses.