June 28, 2010 — Selecting probiotics has become increasingly confusing for consumers and alternative health practitioners. As the lead speaker at the annual meeting of I-ACT, Dr. S.K. Dash provided the criteria for choosing probiotics.
The global probiotic market is expected to exceed $32 billion by 2014. Probiotic use has increased exponentially and probiotics can be found in a wide range of foods, pharmaceutical and nutraceutical applications. The consumer is presented with a dilemma when making probiotic choices.
Probiotic selection begins with the strain. A probiotic strain should be identified by genus, species and strain. The World Health Organization recommends all strains should be deposited in an internationally recognized culture collection. There are a number of tests available to provide knowledge of the strains and their mechanism of action. In vitro testing should be substantiated by human trials. Currently used in vitro tests include:
• Resistance to gastric acidity
• Bile acid resistance
• Adherence to mucus and/or human epithelial cell and cell lines
• Antimicrobial activity against potentially pathogenic bacteria
• Ability to reduce pathogen adhesion to surfaces
• Bile salt hydrolase activity
• Resistance to spermicides
Probiotic strains used in foods and supplements should provide health benefits such as:
• Colonization of the intestinal, respiratory and urogenital tracts
• Cholesterol metabolism
• Metabolism of lactose, the absorption of calcium and synthesis of vitamins
• Reduction of yeast and vaginal infections
• Reduction of digestive problems like constipation and diarrheal diseases
• Production of natural antibiotics, lactic acid, enzymes, vitamins and hydrogen peroxide
Inhibition of pathogenic microorganisms by production of antibiotic-like substances, lowering pH by producing lactic acid, production of hydrogen peroxide, decreasing detox potential and consuming available nutrients
Many consumers realize that probiotics are more important than multivitamins. With the growing popularity of probiotics, more companies are getting into the business and using Non-GRAS probiotic strains, making undocumented health claims and making misleading shelf-stability claims. Probiotic strains such as Lactobacillus species, Bifidobacterium species and Streptococcus species have a long history of safe use and are Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS). Other microorganisms may be problematic and should have toxicological testing prior to use as a probiotic. Soil based organisms and spores claimed as probiotics must have safety data. Safety studies include – taxonomy, in vitro tests, animal feeding trials, human trials, genome sequence.
Probiotic blends should be comprised of GRAS strains. Multi-strain and multi-species probiotics should have improved functionality vs. a single strain. Undocumented high potency probiotics that are multi-strain or multi-species should not be used in formulations. The effects of probiotics are strain-specific, condition-specific and dose-specific.
The industry is undergoing a massive focus on Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP). Probiotics should be produced in facilities with GMP certification. Considerations for probiotic manufacturing include defined quality control procedures that:
• Identify genus, species and strains and viable microorganisms for every batch manufactured
• Test the viability of microorganisms at manufacturing and expiration date
• Test for pathogens and heavy metals
• Test for contamination of probiotic products
WHO and IPA have provided guidelines on what must be included on supplements and foods containing probiotics. These guidelines are very specific and should be included on every product.
Source: UAS Labs, www.uaslabs.com