What Are Probiotics Made From?
History of Isolation
- Research into probiotics shows that all bacteria are not created equal. While many may associate bacteria with negative effects, studies show probiotics are a form of "good" bacteria for the body. Probiotics are found naturally in certain foods; they also can be found in supplement or fortified food form.
The earliest incidences of making probiotics occurred when milk was fermented with lactic acid bacteria. Because this type of milk has a low pH level, the bacteria was shown to be successful in killing off harmful bacteria with a higher pH level. From that point on, scientists were able to use a varying degree of chemical reactions to produce probiotics.
- Foods that contain probiotics are typically in the dairy family, and are cultured (grown) in milk and yogurt. In order to be effective, these bacteria must be living. Examples of foods that contain living probiotics include yogurt, miso, unfermented milk and some juice and soy products, according to the Mayo Clinic. Most of these products must be kept refrigerated in order to ensure the probiotics contained within have the environment needed to live.
Probiotics for foods in this category are made using bacterial cultures. As earlier mentioned, probiotic bacteria, such as L. rhamnosus, L. acidophilus, L. casei and Bifidus, which are commonly found in yogurts or other dairy products, are known to grow under certain conditions. In a laboratory, scientists create these conditions, such as adding lactic acid bacteria to milk, to stimulate probiotic growth. These probiotics are then extracted and added to food to offer benefits such as improved digestion.
- While adding probiotics to foods may seem fairly procedural, how do tightly condensed probiotic supplements pack the same beneficial punch? According to Dr. Melina Jampolis, a physician, nutrition specialist and medical consultant for CNN.com, probiotic supplements begin much the same as those added to food: cultured (developed) in a laboratory. However, the bacteria are then freeze-dried and added to other compounds and packed in a pill form for easy swallowing. Most often, probiotic supplements are recommended for refrigerated storage. This is the same principle behind keeping dairy products refrigerated: the cool atmosphere allows the freeze-dried bacteria to maintain their healthy properties. When ingested into the body, the probiotics are released from the capsule, where they can benefit the digestive system.
According to Dr. Jampolis, some of the best supplements include those containing Bacillus coagulans or Saccharomyces. The label should include information on how the company manufactures and packs the probiotics.