` Olives a Potential Source of Probiotics - Olive Oil Times

Olives a Potential Source of Probiotics

Sep. 12, 2012
Naomi Tupper

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New research pub­lished in the International Journal of Food Microbiology has paved the way for the novel use of olives as a source of pro­bi­otics in our diets.

Probiotics are the healthy bac­te­ria nec­es­sary for gut health, bal­anc­ing intesti­nal flora and stim­u­lat­ing pro­tec­tive func­tions of the diges­tive sys­tem. They are essen­tial for a healthy gut, par­tic­u­larly when an antibi­otic, that strips the diges­tive sys­tem of its nat­ural bac­te­ria, is being used.

Due to their oral admin­is­tra­tion, pro­bi­otics must be able to with­stand the harsh phys­i­cal and chem­i­cal envi­ron­ment of the human gas­tro-intesti­nal tract, and need to be ingested in large quan­ti­ties daily to have a ben­e­fi­cial effect. As vary­ing pro­bi­otics react dif­fer­ently in the diges­tive envi­ron­ment, the chal­lenge is not just intro­duc­ing them to the body, but intro­duc­ing spe­cific bac­te­ria types that can sur­vive and flour­ish in the very spe­cific GI con­di­tions.

Although most com­monly seen as a func­tional com­po­nent of cer­tain yogurts and dairy prod­ucts, new research car­ried out at the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC) in Spain, is now sug­gest­ing that there it the pos­si­bil­ity to use olives and bac­te­ria present in the fer­men­ta­tion process, to intro­duce these ben­e­fi­cial organ­isms to our bod­ies.

Electron microscopy tech­niques have shown that bac­te­ria and yeast that is respon­si­ble for the fer­men­ta­tion of cer­tain Spanish table olives asso­ciate with one another to form com­mu­ni­ties known as a’ biofilm’. Previously, it was thought that these bac­te­ria dis­persed in the brine used to pre­serve the olives dur­ing the process, how­ever, the new find­ings sug­gest that in fact the biofilm com­pound forms and stays on the sur­face of the fruit. The for­ma­tion of this micro­scopic layer is thought to be due to the high con­cen­tra­tion and avail­abil­ity of sug­ars, amino acids, vit­a­mins and other nutri­ents dur­ing the process of fer­men­ta­tion, pro­vid­ing the ideal envi­ron­ment for the sur­vival and growth of these bac­te­ria.

An olive of the Gordal vari­ety, for exam­ple, may have as many as 100 bil­lion Lactobacilli resid­ing on its sur­face, which are they ingested when the olive is con­sumed. The pro­bi­otic nature of these bac­te­r­ial strains is now the sub­ject of inves­ti­ga­tion by the CSIC, with some bac­te­ria and yeast strains already present in the fer­men­ta­tion exhibit­ing ben­e­fi­cial effects on gut health. There is also the pos­si­bil­ity that dif­fer­ent, desir­able, healthy bac­te­ria strains may be able to be used in the fer­men­ta­tion process, and thus deliv­ered to the body via olives.

Due to their high fiber and antiox­i­dant lev­els, if olives could also be used to deliver pro­bi­otics to the body, they could be clas­si­fied as a func­tional food. There is also the pos­si­bil­ity of ther­a­peu­tic uses, with pre­vi­ous research done on Portuguese table olives indi­cat­ing that sev­eral of the bac­te­ria present dur­ing the fer­men­ta­tion process have the abil­ity to inhibit the growth of Helicobacter pylori, a com­mon human pathogen that is resis­tant to a grow­ing num­ber of antibi­otics. This shows a poten­tial for such pro­bi­otics to be used as an antibi­otic alter­na­tive.

The use of olives as a source of pro­bi­otics may be prefer­able for those who are unable to eat dairy due to intol­er­ances or those who require a heart healthy diet.



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