Scientists from the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore have developed probiotics with a unique edible coating that ensures the beneficial bacteria successfully reach the intestine once they are ingested.
Probiotics are defined by the World Health Organization as live microorganisms, which when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host. The problem with most of the probiotics available in the market is that they don’t have a protective coating that can get into the gut and could potentially die due to gastric acid in the stomach.
The use of probiotics have shown to help prevent infections of urinary and digestive tracts, and to maintain a healthy gut flora, which is linked to reducing the risk of obesity, and multiple health conditions.
Some studies have shown that the bulk of probiotics delivered in commercial supplements and yogurts die off within the first 30 minutes of exposure to the gastric acid.
Study Development and Results
For the study, the researchers used gut-friendly Lacticaseibacillus bacteria and spray coated with alginate, a carbohydrate derived from brown algae, which can protect them from stomach acid. The results appear in the journal Carbohydrate Polymers.
They were able to make proof that the bacterias were released only when they reached the small intestine. The coating breaks when interacting with phosphate ions present in the small intestine.
This probiotics coating technology is customisable and can be used to create powder-like coated probiotics, which are about 10 μm (0.0004 inch) in diameter.
To make the coated probiotics, the scientists cultivated Lacticaseibacillus bacteria, before washing them in a salt solution. After which, the bacteria were packed together in a concentration that reflected the United Nations recommended dosage of probiotics]. Finally, the probiotics were spray-dried and coated in alginate. The whole process takes about an hour.
According to the researchers, they are evaluating more ways to deliver probiotics not only used as supplements, but also to enrich food and drinks with probiotics.
Nanyang Technological University. “Scientists develop coated probiotics that could be effectively delivered into the human gut.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 March 2022. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/03/220325093821.htm>.