Researchers at the National University of Singapore (NUS) are looking to produce beer that not only strengthens the immune system but also protects your stomach by aiding in digestion and preventing hyperacidity. This new specialty beer will have the probiotic strain Lactobacillus paracasei L26 – which is usually found in yogurt, dark chocolate, kombucha, or sauerkraut – added to it. Talk about guilt-free beer drinking.
The notion to add bacteria to beers is not so new, as this is already done to give beers their variations in flavor; however, incorporating active probiotics – and ensuring that they survive so that probiotic beer drinkers actually reap their benefits – is another story.
The idea to make a probiotic beer was conceptualized by Chan Mei Zhi Alcine, a fourth-year student from the Food Science and Technology Programme under the NUS Faculty of Science who is a drinker of dairy-based probiotic beverages every day. After nine months of intense research and experimentation, Chan developed the optimal mixture that put five counts of probiotics in the beer. The NUS research team has already filed a patent to protect ownership of this recipe.
According to Chan, “We used a lactic acid bacterium as a probiotic microorganism. It will utilize sugars present wort [unfermented beer] to produce sour-tasting lactic acid, resulting in a beerwith sharp and tart flavors. The final product, which takes around a month to brew, has an alcohol content of about 3.5 percent.”
Chan said that as a final project for her studies, she believes that the topic she picked is relevant to the times, especially with modern people’s lifestyles. “While good bacteria are often present in food that have been fermented, there are currently no beers in the market that contain probiotics. Developing sufficient counts of live probiotics in beer is a challenging feat as beers contian hop acids that prevent the growth and survival of probiotics,” she noted.
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Associate Professor Liu Shao Quan, Chan’s adviser, commended Chan’s breakthrough, saying, “The general benefits associated with consuming food and beverages with probiotic strains have driven demand dramatically. In recent years, consumption of craft or specialty beers has gained popularity too. Alcine’s invention is placed in a unique position that caters to these two trends.”
“I am confident that the probiotic gut-friendly beer will be well-received by beer drinkers, as they can now enjoy their beers and be healthy,” Assoc Prof. Liu added.
The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics says a food product should have at least one million probiotics per serving to be able to provide maximum health benefits. Some physicians believe that patients who are taking antibiotics should also ingest beverages or food products that are rich in probiotics, as doing so can help prevent gut irritation and diarrhea. (Related: Probiotics prevent asthma)
However, there exists conflicting reports as to the beneficial effects of probiotics. For instance, according to the European Food Safety Authority, claims made in 2011 that probiotics could strengthen the body’s defenses, boost the immune system, and lower the occurrences of gut problems, still cannot be proven. The health group has ordered companies to stop reporting such generalities.
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