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Issue 78: Gut-Friendly Pizza?

There are a lot of delivery systems for probiotics on the market, including yogurt and nutritional supplements. But have you heard of probiotic pizza? Well, you’re about to. It’s one of those functional foods—foods that contain specific ingredients that offer health benefits in addition to being nutritious.

A New Orleans-based archaeologist named Jeff Leach is now an entrepreneur and the mastermind behind this gut-friendly pizza invention named Naked Pizza. Created in 2006, Jeff Leach’s brainchild is a melding of his knowledge of prebiotics and probiotics along with an interest in modifying pizza’s unhealthy, fast food reputation into a healthier and more nutritious one. Leach shares this endeavor with business partner, Randy Crochet.

They have one pizza outlet in New Orleans at present, but are looking to expand their business beyond the New Orleans area. By the summer of 2010, they hope to have at least 50 fully operational franchises dotted throughout the United States. Beyond that, Leach and Crochet are also expanding into grocery stores and are looking into the “home cook” market as well.

Leach says that he didn’t pursue this because he wanted to go into the pizza business; he cites America’s health as the impetus. He says that instead of just posting nutrition labels and calories on restaurant menus, we need to actively change the health of the nation.It looks like he is going to give it a try, too. He even has plans to go beyond our nation—into Europe and the rest of the world.

So just where are those prebiotics and probiotics in the pizza? They’re in the crust, of course, and that can create its own set of financial and technological challenges, according to Leach. Prebiotics and probiotics ingredients can be very expensive and that’s why few people try this, he says.
 
Leach says his crust is made with 12 types of whole grain, including amaranth and buckwheat and fortified with a prebiotic and a heat resistant Bacillus coagulans probiotic strain. He says a two-slice serving of his “naked” pizza delivers one billion colony forming units (cfu) of Bacillus coagulans and five grams of the prebiotic.

The question, however, remains as to whether or not these probiotics and prebiotics can withstand the heat of the kitchen. His pizzas are baked at 500 degrees Centigrade for four minutes and his tests indicate that the prebiotics and probiotics can survive the heat. He was asked if that data has been published yet, but it hasn’t been.

It may still be too early to tell if there’s much of a market for a probiotic pizza, but one thing’s for sure: this pizza may be more likely to help your gut than to give you indigestion.

 

This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.


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