Probiota video: The importance of creating a dietary microbes category
Fermented foods took centre stage at this year’s Probiota in Copenhagen when a group of expert panellists discussed how they are expected to be major contributors to any potential recommendations for dietary microbes.
Bruno Pot, Science Director Europe at Yakult Europe, was joined by Professor Paul Cotter, Head of Food Biosciences at Teagasc and Maciej Krol, Fermenter and Founder of mac.ferments, to explore the most pertinent developments in this area.
After the discussion, NutraIngredients spoke to him about why the consumption of fermented has been reducing in the western world and what is on the horizon to address the issue.
Pot explained there might be several reasons why fermented foods are now being consumed less in the West.
“First of all, people have been learning how to preserve their foods in different ways – by refrigeration, by dry-freezing the product – so there’s been less of a need.
“On the other hand, there’s been more commercialisation of food production.
“While people were fermenting at home, this has been replaced by people taking their foods outside of the house very often and also buying it in supermarkets in larger amounts. So the need has really been reduced over the past 50 years.”
Cause for concern
Pot believes this is worrying because it has been shown by many researchers that the amount of non-communicable diseases, or new-age diseases, has actually been going up in the same period.
He explains: “This probably has to do with deficiencies at immune system level where it has been shown that a lot of these non-communicable diseases have an immune factor that is implied.
“Reduced contact with live micro-organisms from the diet, but also from the environment since the environment is much more sanitised, has had an impact on the development of the microbiota, which is essential in the development of the immune system.
“So that’s why the link has been made towards reduced levels of live microbes in the diet.”
Addressing the problem
In order to address the issue, we should once again promote the intake of live micro-organisms, according to Pot.
He says: “I also think it’s a matter of education – telling people how important it is to maintain healthy conditions in their gut – and that could be through healthy nutrition, including dietary fibres which will promote the diversity and the growth of some of the bacteria, as well as the intake of fermented foods, which will really help enrich the diversity and help.”
He adds that this is especially relevant among young infants in order to train the immune system to cope with challenges later in life.
Dietary microbes and dietary fibres
‘Dietary microbes’ is a very new term that should be promoted these days, insists Pot.
He says: “Dietary microbes is a non-existing food category currently in contrast to dietary fibres.
“The purpose of creating the dietary microbes category would be very similar as what we obtained with the dietary fibres definition, meaning that people are aware of how important dietary fibres are for their diet, to keep healthy, just as people know about vitamins and other essential nutrients in nutrition.
“Nobody actually knows about dietary microbes and the importance they might have, so the purpose of creating a category is really to allow easier communication to the consumer about the importance of live micro-organisms in the diet and so the creation of the category will be a first step.”