Vitamin Bears™ Nutrition & Healthy Living

Latest Research • Health Updates • Interesting Reads

Probiotics and Healthy Chocolate? YES PLEASE!!





Gut Health is an ever increasing area of research and popularity for consumers. With gut related ailments such as colon cancer on the increase we are all too aware of how our diets and lifestyles can affect our health, with our gut suffering from almost all negative social factors.


One way we have been custom to looking after our gut health, is with probiotics, or friendly bacteria.

In the simplest terms, a probiotic is a living beneficial micro-organism; it can be a bacterium or yeast. Certain micro-organisms living in the human intestinal tract are essential for good health.

The World Health Organization defines probiotics as “Live micro-organisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host.”

The word probiotic comes from the Greek and means ‘fit for life’ or ‘pro-life.’ While much of the progress against disease over the past two centuries has involved the discovery and use of antibiotics, public health and medical researchers now foresee revolutionary progress on a similar scale for probiotics.

Probiotics, when ingested, induce health benefits by beneficially affecting the balance of the intestinal microflora (or microbiota). While interest in the health promoting aspects of probiotics goes all the way back to the start of the 20th century, scientists have made huge progress in recent years in identifying their potentially beneficial roles in health.

Billions of bacteria inhabit the human digestive system. These bacteria are referred to as the gut flora. Some of these are beneficial, yet others are potentially harmful. A balance between the two is vital for good health and well-being. There should be a balance of 85% good bacteria in the digestive system vs. 15% bad – if this balance is altered symptoms occur.

Dietary and lifestyle factors destroy good bacteria and can cause an imbalance. Those factors include:

  • Stress and lack of sleep
  • Prescription medications (e.g. Antibiotics)
  • Digestive aids
  • Sugar
  • Carbonated beverages

Since 70% of the body’s immune system dwells in the digestive tract, maintaining balanced digestive health is crucial to the body’s overall well-being. The most natural way to get more “good” bacteria and maintain healthy balance of intestinal microflora is to take a probiotic supplement. Now for the innovation…..

There are capsules, powders, milks, yoghurts, little drinks….. and now PROBIOTIC CHOCOLATE!

Combining the delicious daily treat with the goodness of probiotics, we surely have a winner. But does it work and does it survive the passage to out gut…?

YES! Probiotic Chocolate has been proven to survive the harsh environments of the stomach and reach the gut alive. This has been proven in a study conducted by chocolate experts, Barry Callebaut who reported:

“…The coating of the probiotics in chocolate is an excellent solution to protect them from environmental stress conditions and for optimal delivery.”

The above mentioned study tested the viability of a mixture of coated Lactobacillus helveticus and Bifidobacterium longum embedded in a chocolate and milk matrix during passage through the stomach and small intestine. In addition, the results were compared with the survival of the bacteria present in a popular yoghurt drink.
The conclusion was clear – the chocolate matrix offered superior protection. In contrast, the bacteria in the milk matrix were negatively affected by stomach acidity (4-times lower end-counts), whereas hardly any negative effects were observed in the chocolate matrix.

Bacteria in the yoghurt drink were also negatively affected with only 20% surviving the passage through the stomach and small intestine. Survival rates in the milk matrix and yoghurt drink were found to be 3 times lower than in chocolate.

Probiotics in chocolate ensure the survival of up to 4X as many good bacteria as those contained in dairy and without having to be refrigerated!

Good news for chocolate lovers that want to look after their gut health. Look out for those with Dark Chocolate so you get the benefit of the high polyphenols as well to look after your heart!


S. Possemiers, M. Marzorati, W. Verstraete, T. Van de Wiele, Bacteria and chocolate: A successful combination for probiotic delivery, International Journal of Food Microbiology, Volume 141, Issues 1-2, 30 June 2010, Pages 97-103. Full text.

J Burgain, C Gaiani, M Linder, J Scher, Encapsulation of probiotic living cells : From laboratory scale to industrial applications. Journal of Food Engineering (2011) Volume: 104, Issue: 4, Pages: 467-483. Abstract and preview.


#chocolate #probiotic #guthealth #digestion #immunity #prebiotic #goodbacteria #healthy #supplements


Joints & Bones – Q&A


  • What are the most common joint and bone related conditions?

Osteoarthritis a degenerative disease affecting in particular the hands, feet, spine, hips and knees, is one of the biggest ailments in the UK with more than 8.5 million sufferers.

Among the younger generation, rickets is on the increase. The 17th Century disease was almost eradicated in the 1940s, but has been making a comeback in recent years. It is thought extensive use of sunscreen by parents anxious about skin cancer, children spending more time playing computer games and watching TV and a poor diet are to blame. Sunshine is one of the main sources of Vitamin D, and with the long drawn out winters, lack of sun exposure, children are at risk of Vitamin D deficiency.

In the older population, osteomalacia is also something prevalent, especially with post-menopausal women. Oestrogen provides bone protective properties and after the menopause, bone resorption (breakdown) outpaces the building of new bone.

  • In what way can poor diet and lifestyle contribute to poor joint and bone health?

Lack of exercise can contribute to stiffness in joints. A small amount of exercise as recommended by the department of health can help strengthen the muscles around your joints, help you maintain bone strength.

Certain medication, such as Steroids – certain drugs used to treat seizures (anticonvulsants), blood thinners (anticoagulants), and thyroid medications increase the rate of bone loss if not used as directed. If you are taking any of these medications, speak with your doctor about how to reduce your risk of bone loss through diet and lifestyle changes.

  • Looking at supplementation, what do you consider crucial for people to maintain healthy joints?

A good diet is essential for health, and many complementary and alternative therapists advise on a healthy balanced diet. Diets can help many people with arthritis, both inflammatory types and osteoarthritis. As well as having a healthy, balanced diet, getting additional nutrients from food supplements may help if you have arthritis.

Omega-3 has been known for its powerful anti-inflammatory effects. Omega-3’s nourish bones and joints as you age.  Dietary omega-3s also have the ability to support articular cartilage and modulate certain chemical reactions, which both lead to joint comfort. New data indicates krill oil may help treat arthritic joint tissue by neutralizing pro-inflammatory activity. Clinical research has shown Krill oil to have up to 6x stronger action on arthritis symptoms than other marine based omega-3’s. In a group of aging individuals inflicted with arthritic pain, 300 mg per day of krill oil alone slashed pro-inflammatory C-reactive protein activity in half after just one month.

Glucosamine is a long standing ingredient with proven benefits for osteoarthritis, especially for the knee. Just 1500mg of Glucosamine per day could help to reduce joint pain and help protect the cartilage from further damage.


#joint #bones #winterhealth #autumnhealth #glucoamine #krill #menopause