The catalyst for the recent tsunami of consumer interest and digestive health and immunity might have all that faded away but the interest itself has not. And while American culture was late to the probiotic culture party. The events of the past few years have sealed culture dairy in the minds of most consumers as the primary method for attaining a healthy gut microbiome.

Gut health also has been connected with support against a wealth of other diseases and dysfunctions, and research continues to expand in this arena. Through this research, we’ve learned that the digestive system and its functions are interconnected to a host of other of bodily functions related to oral health, lung health, cognitive and emotional health, and even our skin.

The so-called gut-brain connection regarding mood and cognition has been especially foremost in the mind of researchers in recent years, with strong evidence for a healthy gut and reduced symptoms of depression.

These synergistic pairings are referred to as synbiotics, but another aspect of the field currently growing is that of postbiotics, what the prebiotic-fed bacteria produce during fermentation in the colon and that confer health benefit on the host. These can include certain vitamins (such as B12 and K), as well as short-chain fatty acids acetic acid, propionic acid, and butyrate which have been shown to help regulate satiety and blood sugar levels, and aid in preventing certain cancers.

Science is disclosing more and more that connects the trillions of bacteria in the human body to how they serve their hosts, yet there still is much more to discover. The more we can learn about the microbiome, the more we can use this research to help people achieve a better health. But each person has a unique microbiome, so when it comes to developing food and beverage products targeting the balancing of the microbiome, technologies enabling tailoring specific probiotics and prebiotics synergistically in dairy and dairy analogs is expanding rapidly.

To find out more, David Feder, Executive Editor—Technical for the Prepared Foods interviewed Dr. Miguel Freitas, nutrition scientist, probiotics researcher, and vice-president of health and scientific affairs for Danone North America. His expert insight can be listened to in the podcast below or viewed in the video above.

On the go? Listen to the interview now!

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