Outside it's grey, gloomy, cold and wet. But this makes it all the more cosy and warm inside. To counter the winter blues, this is the season where people like to come together to eat and drink. January and the good intentions of New Year's resolutions are still a long way off.
For the time being, we look forward to indulging in the myriad of delicacies that accompany the festivities over the coming weeks. Overindulge, however, and we risk paying the price with digestive issues.
Some like to help things along with a cheeky schnapps, others swear by herbal tea – some even enlist the support of friendly bacteria. This trend is nothing new: small drinks containing probiotic lactic acid bacteria have been on the market for over 20 years.
En route to the large intestine
What does "probiotic" actually mean? Translated literally, it means "for life", consisting of the Latin word "pro" – "for", and the Ancient Greek word "bios" – "life". Probiotic bacteria have a positive effect on the host organism – that is, us as humans. Since they can survive the passage through the stomach with its low pH (= higher acidity), they are able to make their way into the large intestine where they can get to work.
Lactobacillus Gorbach-Goldin is one such example of a strain of probiotic bacteria. Discovered and investigated by the two men bearing the same name, it has since been shown in numerous studies to have a beneficial effect on health, which is why LGG®, as it is abbreviated, is now one of the most widely researched probiotic bacteria worldwide. Emmi began research and development into products based on LGG® at the beginning of the 1990s, leading to the launch of the "Aktifit" drink. In combination with a balanced and varied diet, these products support normal digestion while reducing flatulence.
Pre or pro?
Incidentally, it is important not to confuse probiotic with prebiotic. Prebiotics are non-digestible components in foods. They usually take the form of dietary fibres such as oligofructose. They induce the growth or activity of the beneficial gut bacteria found in the gastrointestinal tract. In simple terms, they are food for the bacteria.
Whether "pre" or "pro", our digestion likely needs both. However, probiotic drinks have proven enduringly popular with consumers. Emmi has produced the drink "Aktifit" in four fruit flavours since 1996. The small, 65-millilitre bottles each contain one billion probiotic lactic acid bacteria. This covers the recommended daily intake of probiotic LGG®, plus folic acid and vitamins B6, B12 and D, which help among other things to support a healthy immune system. "Aktifit" is lactose-free, so it can be enjoyed even by people with a sensitive digestive system.
Another great thing is that the bottles can be reused. The cap is designed so that it can be resealed, making the bottles the perfect container for salad dressings while out on a hike, for example. But let's not worry about that until January, when we start making good on our resolutions.