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Probiotic sports drinks on the way

The "gut-muscle axis" and the public's growing love affair with probiotics will help move them centerfield as popular sports drink ingredients, according to experts.

While players might not be chugging microbe-chocked sports drinks at this year’s Wimbledon, that day may not be far off. Probiotics may be the next go-to sports drink ingredients, reports, in a post highlighting buggy juice maker GoodBelly’s strategy to tackle the market with ready-to-drink plant protein shakes packed with probiotics.

The probiotics market in general is exploding. The U.S. market is expected to reach $46.55 billion by 2020, according to a MarketandMarkets report. As more research reveals the gut-muscle axis (yes, yet another axis!), more manufacturers are dreaming of replacing those neon bottles of Gatorade with a few million microbes. People are realizing that the gut is integral to sports performance as new science demonstrates probiotics support protein and lactose metabolism, keep athletes from getting sick and thus missing competitions, increase amino acid levels, boost power, and improve recovery.

No guts, no glory, right? notes that increased consumption of probiotics and sports drinks was one of a dozen global food and beverage trends named in a Mintel report released last year.

Formulating tasty drinks with probiotics isn’t easy, however, Alan Murray, CEO of NextFoods Inc., which markets GoodBelly, told Food Business News. The bacteria are super touchy and often don’t live through tiny recipe tweaks.

“Finding that balance with the ingredients you want to use to get the flavor profile just right but keeping the probiotics happy is by far the most difficult thing,” he said. “You can modify the percentage of one berry up by a tiny bit and suddenly all of the bugs will die.”

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