One of America’s favorite foods has gone probiotic and may actually help your gut rather than give you heartburn. Move over yogurt, probiotic pizza has already made its debut and could be widely available in the near future alongside other functional foods.
Functional foods are those that contain ingredients that aid specific bodily functions, in addition to being nutritious. The functional food and beverage market has been growing in recent years as consumers become more concerned about their health. According to the market research publisher Packaged Facts in its new report, “Functional Foods and Beverages in the US,”, the retail market for functional foods and beverages rose 6 percent in 2008, with sales totaling nearly $31 billion, an increase from $29 billion in 2007. Probiotics (beneficial bacteria) are an important part of the movement.
The probiotic pizza is the creation of Jeff Leach, an archaeologist by education and head of Paleobiotics Lab, an independent research group that investigates nutritional and dietary evolution and its impact on health. Transforming one of America’s most popular and unhealthy foods into a nutritious choice could not come at a better time, as people are struggling with an epidemic of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and other critical health issues. Functional foods can be an integral part of the battle.
Along with his business partner Randy Crochet, Leach has formulated a pizza crust that contains 12 types of whole grains and is fortified with a prebiotic (Beneo Orafti’s Synergy 1) and the beneficial bacteria Bacillus coagulans strain (Ganeden Biotech), which has been shown to increase the body’s immune response to viruses in a recent study. Prebiotics are substances that nourish and support the activities of probiotics.
Beyond making “Naked Pizza,” the name given to the new functional food, taste great, Leach needed to ensure that the probiotics remained viable after baking the pizza at 500 degrees centigrade for four minutes. According to Leach, his tests show no degradation. Naked Pizza costs a bit more than its traditional competitors because probiotics and prebiotics are expensive ingredients. Each two-slice serving, however, delivers a healthy one billion colony forming units (CFUs, the way probiotics are measured) and five grams of prebiotics, and may well be worth the additional cost in terms of health benefits.
Leach plans to expand beyond his current one outlet in New Orleans to about 50 franchises across the country by summer 2010. He and Crochet also hope to reach the grocery store market as well. If they do, they will be putting their probiotic pizzas next to other functional foods such as yogurt and assorted foods and beverages that are fortified with probiotics and/or other nutrients to a level believed to be beneficial for specific health needs.
Baron M. Postgraduate Medicine 2009 Mar; 121(2): 114-18
Nutra Ingredients-USA report, September 17, 2009
Packaged Facts press release May 13, 2009
Written by Deborah Mitchell
Exclusive to eMaxHealth