Helping Probiotics to Help You

Head to your local supermarket and you’ll find probiotic foods and drinks that could help to improve your health. These include yoghurts containing added probiotics and an assortment of milk drinks fermented with probiotics.

Studies have shown that some probiotics, which are live microorganisms that confer health benefits when consumed, could relieve the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, prevent diarrhoea caused by infections and antibiotics, reduce bone density loss and improve the digestion and absorption of food and nutrients.

Their positive health effects are why Associate Professor Liu Shao Quan, who is part of the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Food Science and Technology Programme, has dedicated part of his research to developing new probiotic foods and drinks that could appeal to more people and expand the options for a healthier diet.

Over the past few years, he and his students have created probiotic beer – a first in the market – and two other probiotic beverages made with durian pulp and okara respectively. Okara is soy pulp that is leftover from the production of soy products such as soy milk and tofu.

Prof Liu said of the probiotic beer: “The general health benefits associated with consuming foods and beverages with probiotic strains have driven demand for them up dramatically. In recent years, consumption of craft or specialty beers has become more popular too. I am confident that our probiotic, gut-friendly beer will be well-received by beer drinkers, as they can now enjoy their beers and be healthy.”

Prof Liu will speak about the difficulties of keeping probiotics alive in foods and drinks, and his research to improve their survival chances at this year’s Vitafoods Asia 2018 conference, which will take place on Sept 11 and 12 at Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre.

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