However, there are some things to keep in mind with probiotics in order to get the most benefits.
According to William Chen, director of the Food Science and Technology Program at Nanyang Technological University, a key consideration is whether the probiotics are still alive, and if so, how many microbes are in the food.
To be labeled “probiotic,” the food must contain at least one billion CFU, or colony-forming units, which represent the number of bacteria in each serving.
However, a probiotic product can lose potency if it is not stored properly or sits on the shelf for too long.
“Ideally, the lower the temperature, the better,” he said. “Bacteria grow slower at a lower temperature, but faster at a high temperature.”
The CFU number on the label is usually the number at the time of packaging, he added. However, the company will not monitor how long a product sat on the shelf before purchase.
So “no one knows” how many microbes are ingested at the time of consumption, said Chen, who advised checking the expiration date. “Don’t buy too much and then put (the food) in the fridge for too long.”
As for the types of foods to eat, fermented foods are generally good for gut health because they’re easier to digest, according to Jeremy Lim, chief executive officer of Precision Gut Microbiome Company Amili.
The fermentation process also allows probiotics to multiply.
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