Probiotics and other gut-friendly foods are topping lists predicting food trends for 2019, Forbes reports.
The trend is in line with ever-growing research surrounding the brain-gut connection, according to Dr. Abigail Koppes, PhD, assistant professor of chemical engineering, biology and biomedical engineering at Northeastern University.
“This relationship between the gut and the brain is going to become more important as we learn more about it, it’s still sort of the Wild West;” she tells Forbes. “There’s been more and more engineering techniques and microbiology techniques to help understand what type of bacteria are even there in the first place. In the last few years that's enabled people to start even thinking about these things, like how can we make functional foods.”
In addition to being present in fermented foods like yogurt and kefir, probiotics will increasingly be added to packaged, shelf-stable foods like cereal, soup, and nutrition bars, according to food trend predictions from Whole Foods Market. Kellogg’s recently launched its line of Happy Inside cereals with added prebiotics and probiotics, and peanut butter like Good Spread is reinforced with probiotics.
Koppes is cautiously optimistic about the benefits of the new trend, reports Forbes, noting that “what probiotic or what diet works for one person very likely won't work for someone else."
Research published earlier this year in the journal Cell also questioned the benefit of probiotics for the average person, specifically over-the-counter probiotic supplements. The researchers found that while probiotic supplements were not harmful for most, they were rarely terribly helpful. Moreover, when people supplemented with probiotics while taking antibiotics, it was more difficult for their original microbiome to return to a healthy state.
"This was worse than not doing anything. It was significantly bad, and persistent," Eran Elinav, study author, told ABC.
"This tells us then rather than relying on the one-size-fits-all approach we need to move to a new paradigm: well-adjusted personal microbiome or signature combinations, tailored to the individual."
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