The aim of this work was to evaluate the effect of four natural prebiotics (inulin, psyllium, apple fiber and hemp fiber) on viability of probiotic bacteria. Two probiotic strains, namely Lactobacillus acidophilus (CCM 4833) and Bifidobacterium breve (CCM 7825T) were co-encapsulated with selected prebiotics into alginate particles. The viability of encapsulated microorganisms during storage in acidic conditions was analysed. Also, the physicochemical evaluation of prepared particles and the viability of cells during simulated gastrointestinal conditions were tested. To analysis of probiotics light/fluorescence microscopy and flow cytometry were used. Results indicated significant improvement in survival of co-encapsulated cells compared to free cells. As the best prebiotic for co-encapsulation the hemp fiber was found. The hemp fiber exhibited the highest increase of cells count and the high viability of encapsulated bacterial cells during long-term storage. The co-encapsulation of probiotics into alginate particles leads to increased tolerance of bacteria to acidic environment. Particles also maintained their integrity during passage through the gastrointestinal tract until they reached their target destination. Therefore, prepared particles could be used in foods or food supplements with targeted transport of probiotic bacteria.Keywords: Probiotics, prebiotics, co-encapsulation, alginate
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