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Taylor Sikes

Things to know before reading this paper: probiotics are live microorganisms that contribute

many health benefits to those that consume them.1 A functional food has most currently been

defined as “natural or processed foods that contains known or unknown biologically-active

compounds; which, in defined, effective non-toxic amounts, provide a clinically proven and

documented health benefit for the prevention, management, or treatment of chronic

disease,”.2 A key element that relates these two together, indicating that probiotics are indeed

a functional food, is that probiotics are live microorganisms and the definition for a functional

food states biologically active compounds.

Probiotics and prebiotics while similar, aren’t to be used interchangeably or confused with one

another. A preferred way to remember the difference between the two are breaking the words

apart and knowing that “-pre” means before and that prebiotics are placed before probiotics so

that the probiotics may have something to feast upon while residing inside the body. An

example of a prebiotic is the widely known Inulin. According to volume 18, issue 6 of Clinical

Nutrition, what qualifies probiotics as a functional food is their ability to provide helpful and

preventative qualities above and beyond their nutrition function.3 Moving on to frozen

desserts, for the sake of this paper, this will be referring to frozen dairy treats such as frozen

yogurt and/ or ice cream.

Furthermore, this paper will cover where probiotics can be found, characteristics that make

probiotics a desirable functional food, health benefits of probiotics, and how probiotics as a

functional food apply to the practice of nutrition and dietetics.

Sources of Probiotics

As many consumers are aware, yogurt is a well- known source of probiotics and particular

yogurts, such as Activia, are viewed as a go to for gut health improvement. Yogurt isn’t the only

source of probiotics, while it may be the most known. Kombucha, the new health trend, is a

source of probiotics as well. How? Just like yogurt, it is injected with live bacteria. Because

Kombucha is a fermented drink, the bacteria are placed inside the tea, and is left alone to

ferment while producing more bacteria.4

Fermentation is a slow decaying process of organic substances influenced by microorganisms or

enzymes that fundamentally convert carbohydrates to alcohols or organic acids.5 The

fermentation of select fruits and vegetables such as Sauerkraut, Kimchi, Gundruk, Khalpi, and

Sinki are natural sources of probiotics.5 Yogurt is the result of dairy fermentation. Milk is

fermented to form yogurt and is then injected with live bacteria to further increase health


To get more in depth, there are specific strands of bacteria to look for when searching for

probiotics. The Lactobacillus group is the main group associated with probiotics, or more

commonly known as lactic acid.6 Because lactic acid is a product of fermentation, it is not found

in high quantities of fruits and vegetables. Instead, one can find lactic acid present in large

quantities in cheeses, milks, and even meats.7

Now that it is understood where the probiotic itself is coming from, the next step is to evaluate

which processed foods and frozen desserts contain probiotics.

Desserts Containing Probiotics

As mentioned previously, ice cream and yogurt are large carriers of probiotics due to their

fermentation processes and their dairy make up. Due to the soar in interest and demand for

healthier food choices by younger generations, scientists are working to expand products

containing probiotics. A surprising new treat manufacturers are working on is probiotic filled

chocolate and non-frozen desserts. During studies conducted by Ramakrishna et al, results

showed that chocolate has the potential to be a probiotic dessert in the near future due to the

better keeping and delivery of probiotics when compared to liquid milk.8 Deciding factors on

whether or not probiotics may be incorporated into the dessert are processing and storage

methods which could negatively affect the probiotic thus rendering it disabled by the time the

consumer is able to come into contact with it.

Baked goods may also be holding onto a few probiotics for individuals as well and could very

well be behind chocolate in soon to be announced probiotic enriched desserts.

Ensuring Probiotic Longevity in Desserts

As previously mentioned, the demand for expansion of healthier options is rapidly increasing.

This being said, ways to get creative with including probiotics in desserts is limited due to the

lack of research with ways to ensure the probiotics are being kept alive during injection,

processing, storage, and consumption. After all, it’s no longer a probiotic if not kept alive while

being ingested. Several factors that affect the lifespan on probiotics include: the easily

influenced properties of the chosen bacteria strain, the environment they are suspended in

(other ingredients properties, humidity, temperature, pH, oxygen), the digestive process

(gastric acidity, bile salts), as well as a variety of mechanical stresses linked to food processing.9

How are probiotics able to be protected from all stresses at once? Microencapsulation.

Microencapsulation may be defined as the packaging technology of solids, liquids, or gaseous

material with thin polymeric coatings, forming small particles called microcapsules.10

Incorporating probiotics in this manner allows the probiotics to maintain a functional well-

being without being harmed by all of the stress factors that take place during the processing,

storing, and ingestion phases. One thing to note about this advancement is that is does increase

the price of the food because implementing the microencapsulation procedure is costly.11

Physical Properties Making Probiotics a Desired Functional Food

Not only are consumers the ones who want probiotics incorporated into more desserts, the

desserts themselves do as well. Incorporating probiotics into baked goods, for example, has

been shown to increase volume, and heighten flavor and aroma of the baked goods according

to studies conducted and reviewed by S. Longoria-García M. A. Cruz-Hernández M. I. M. et al.12

Nonetheless, further studies need to be conducted to be certain that all strands of probiotics

have this effect and that it can continue to reoccur when environments change, i.e. the

ingredients and cooking temperatures for different baked goods. Because probiotics take place

in fermentation, they can have a strong flavor resembling a sharp vinegar taste. Because of this,

products are paired with probiotics that will enhance their flavors rather than oppose their

sensory appeal.13 Ice cream and chocolate are good candidates for accepting probiotics

because individuals of all ages consume both desserts. Allowing these two desserts to be

carriers for probiotics will ensure that a vast amount of the population is obtaining probiotics in

their diet.

While it may seem like a minor thing to include probiotics as functional foods in desserts, think

of it this way: when probiotics already have such a strong connection to dairy in the minds of

the consumer, which option would they most likely go for, a refreshing scoop of ice cream or a

portion of Greek yogurt? While it’s not fair to assume that all individuals will choose the ice

cream over the Greek yogurt, it is more realistic to consider once taking in outside factors such

as age groups, taste, and the sheer fact that ice cream is a dessert that not all individuals want

to live without. So why not take something most consumers enjoy and add nutritional health

benefits to it?

Health Benefits of Probiotics

Probiotics have an array of health benefits but are more widely known for their assistance in

maintaining a healthy gut micro- flora. This includes providing a barrier to invasive bacteria in

the intestines as well.14 A surprising fact is that probiotics also contribute to bone health.

Probiotics benefit bone health by maintaining bone growth, density, and structure under

conditions of dysbiosis, intestinal permeability, and inflammation.14 A trick to remember this is

that dairy products, where high quantities of probiotics are found, are good for strong bones

because of calcium. It makes sense that probiotics would also play a role in bone health.

From bone health to cancer prevention, probiotics do it all. Phenolic compounds play a large

part in cancer prevention, and probiotics interact with phenolic compounds.15 Probiotics use

phenolic compounds as their substrates to increase their functions.15 Phenolic compounds are

able help protect probiotics from the harsh acidic environment of the intestinal tract by

improving adhesion capacity. Not only do phenolic compounds assist with adhesion capacity,

they also increase the chances of probiotics thriving in food for longer. Phenolic compounds

have antioxidant properties that help fight chronic diseases. These phenolic compounds go to

the colon when they cannot be properly stored in the intestine. This is where the probiotics

interact with the phenolic compounds. Because the probiotics reside in the intestinal tract, they

are readily available to help convert phenolic compounds into their cancer warding state and

undergo a biotransformation. It is this interaction that gives probiotics their title of being able

to help fight off chronic disease. The relationship between the phenolic compounds and the

probiotics is similar to that of a give and take, each returning the favor of helping the other all

while benefitting the host entirely.

Continuing on with probiotic health benefits, adding to the list is prevention in foodborne

illnesses. This happens when probiotics are inserted into foods to help eliminate contaminating

food pathogens.16 Helping to maintain a healthy gut microbiome, interacting with other

compounds to prevent chronic disease such as cancer and even lessen the occurrence of colon

tumors, maintaining healthy bone mineralization, and decreasing the rate at which foodborne

illness occurs, how could someone not want to increase their intake of probiotics?


To conclude the information presented in this paper, probiotics are a beneficial functional

group to consumers. Based upon multiple studies conducted by many researchers alike,

probiotics have many uses in which they may be of benefit to consumers with the array of

health benefits that they provide. They contribute to the products that they are a part of by

increasing sensory appeal to consumers which in return benefits the business because

consumers enjoy the products thanks to the pairing of product to probiotic with similar flavor

characteristics. Probiotics can be found in larger quantities in dairy products such as chees, ice

cream, yogurt, and lower quantities in some meat samples. Probiotics are the result of

fermentation which is what gives them their acidic vinegar flavor.

My professional opinion after learning all of the information that I have while researching

would be that more probiotics should be taken in through the diet by consumers. They are very

beneficial to individuals and I did not come across any warnings about toxicity in my research.

All that I came across were good contributing factors which leads me to believe that probiotics

are a good functional food for frozen desserts like ice cream and frozen yogurt which would

benefit more people due to the enjoyment across all genders and age groups.

Application to Dietetics

The information presented in this paper is applicable to the practice of nutrition and dietetics

because nutrition and dietetics is about helping people to lead a healthier lifestyle and to

educate the population on how to properly do so. With the information presented individuals

may learn how to intake good sources of probiotics and if they had never heard of probiotics

before they would have gained knowledge and learned to include it in their everyday diet.

While doing the thrifty food plan for Community Nutrition, I saw that yogurt is a very

reasonable price for large quantities even, which is good to know for consumers who are on a

limited budget but are trying to incorporate probiotics into their diet.

With advancements in technology happening as rapidly as they do, then the future has

potential to hold more foods beyond dairy and frozen desserts with probiotics as a functional

food. Sources of probiotics are available to all consumers whether it be in supplementation

form, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, kombucha, it is present and prevalent. So many times,

individuals have encountered going to the store for some yogurt only to find out their preferred

flavor or brand was out of stock due to high demand. Which, is a good thing to know as a future

dietitian because you are aware that people are intaking their probiotic and you know that

when it comes time to help and teach and implement these individuals that there are many

available resources to turn to if a client is picky or has preferred tastes and you know that they

are going to consume it because if no one was eating it, then there would not be empty shelves

in grocery stores.


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