Probiotics Benefit Health and Increase Value of Agricultural Products

CANADA - Agriculture and Agrifood Canada reports new products which use naturally occurring beneficial bacteria have the potential to improve the health of both animals and humans and to increase the value of agricultural products, writes Bruce Cochrane.
calendar icon 18 July 2007
clock icon 3 minute read

Probiotics are dietary supplements which contain potentially beneficial live bacteria.

Dr. Edward Farnworth, a senior research scientist with Agriculture and Agrifood Canada's Food Research and Development Centre at Saint Hyacinthe, Quebec, says, when you start talking about probiotics, the product that comes to mind first is yogurt.

Dr. Edward Farnworth-Agriculture and Agrifood Canada

We've begun to understand a lot more about what's going on in our gastrointestinal tract.

It turns out that the gastrointestinal tract of humans and animals is inhabited by billions of bacteria and only recently have we started to understand what those bacteria are doing.

Some of them are positive.

Some of them are producing vitamins that are absorbed by the host, some are producing digestive enzymes that are used by the host, some are fighting disease, some are stimulating the immune system so there's a whole large number of beneficial bacteria that reside in our gastrointestinal tract.

On the other side there's also some harmful bacteria and they exist and they grow and every once in a while they flare up and you get the gastrointestinal problems, the diarrhea and things like that.

So the whole principal behind probiotics is the more we can increase the number of beneficial bacteria in the gastrointestinal system the better our health will be so, as a result, we're now finding products like yogurt and other fermented products that contain live bacteria that could be beneficial to our health.

Dr. Farnworth notes we're still very much in the dark in terms of the numbers and the role that these bacteria play in our gastrointestinal tract and every day new lists of beneficial bacteria that have been identified and characterized are released.

He notes the vast majority of the first products that came onto the probiotic market were milk based but slowly probiotic products derived from other agricultural commodities are coming onto the market.

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