Nutrition Trend 2009: Probiotics & Prebiotics

October 23, 2009

Last weekend I had the great pleasure to attended the American Dietetic Association,  Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo in Denver, Colorado.  This is the largest annual event for dietitians from all corners of the U.S., to meet and share information with each other. In addition to educational seminars focusing on the latest nutrition science information and foodservice trends,  this event enables us to exchange many best practices with fellow dietitians while learning about new products on the market.

One of the hottest topics this year was probiotics and prebiotics.   I noticed a significant increase from last year in the number of products that claimed to have probiotics and or prebiotics.  This is reflective of the growing number of these products in today’s markets. While most of the products were made from dairy (yogurt or milk), there were also some juices, cereals, and nutrition/energy bars that claimed probiotic and prebiotic.

As I walked around the Expo, I had the (gut) feeling that I was facing the same predicament most of my clients do when navigating the grocery aisles for probiotic or prebiotic products- how do I choose among all these options?

The first place you, as a consumer, can start the decision process is by educating yourself .  Because there are currently no government guidelines for probiotics labeling, it is important to know that many products can claim to have probiotic even if the product does not contain the level needed to have a beneficial health effect. So how do you know which products are actually probiotic-worthy?  Here are a few key things to consider when choosing a probiotic:

  1. What strain of probiotic is being used? Identify the type of probiotic in the product genus, species, strain name. For example: Lactobacillius (genus) Casei (species), Shirota (strain).
  2. How much of the probiotic is in each serving? Identify the level of the probiotic contained in the product (in CFU’s)
  3. Is there clinical data to support the claims? Contact or visit the manufacturer’s website to determine if any human studies have been done to demonstrate a health benefit using the level of the strain in the product. 

When in doubt, you should consult with your Registered Dietitian or other health professionals who have experience in evaluating and recommending pre and probiotics.

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One Response to “Nutrition Trend 2009: Probiotics & Prebiotics”

  1. smilinggreenmom Says:

    Very interesting! Our son has been helped wo much with his food allergies and Eczema by taking his Vidazorb chewable probiotics and now our whole family loves them! (These actually are dairy free). I have been reading a lot of info on probiotics and it is amazing how much this topic has grown! I am glad for this though as I see them as being so beneficial to our bodies!

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