Comment seeks probiotic inclusion in dietary guidelines

by Jeff Gelski
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WASHINGTON — The 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee should consider live microbes and probiotics as part of a healthy American diet, according to a Sept. 3 comment from Mary Ellen Sanders, Ph.D., who was writing on behalf of the International Scientific Association of Probiotics and Prebiotics, a non-profit organization.

The comment from Dr. Sanders, a principal in the Centennial, Colo.-based consulting firm Dairy & Food Technologies, said fermented foods such as yogurt deliver live microbes, including probiotics. Research has indicated the importance of microbiota in digestive, cardiac and endocrine health as well as healthy aging in the general population.

“Because of this prevalence of persuasive science, we believe that the committee should study the following question: What is the relationship between foods with live and active cultures and probiotics on long-term health maintenance and reduced disease risk?” the comment said.

Fermented dairy products may include yogurt, kefir, cheese and fermented milk. Fermented vegetables may include kim chi and sauerkraut.

“Consumers would further benefit if these foods were described as a source of potentially useful bacteria, and not only as a valuable source of calcium and other nutrients,” the comment said.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations/World Health Organization defines probiotic as a live microorganism, which when administered in adequate amounts, confers a health benefit on the host.

According to Dr. Sanders’ comment, The 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee noted gut microbiota affect health, but the 2010 committee did not make any recommendations on consuming probiotics or fermented food.

In late May of this year 15 people were selected for the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. The government guidelines serve as the foundation for national nutrition programs, standards and education. They also make recommendations to help the general population and specific population groups chose healthy diets. More on the dietary guidelines and the public comments on the guidelines may be found at www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines.

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