Podcast Episode 162: Digestive Health: Probiotics, Prebiotics & Fermentation – Dr. Elieke Kearns

Oct 14, 2020

This episode is sponsored by PepsiCo and we thank them for their sponsorship and support of the podcast.

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A Gut Check on Digestive Health

With two-thirds of U.S. adults experiencing digestive issues[1], digestive health has been a priority trend for multiple years and is anticipated to keep evolving as scientific research expands and further uncovers solutions to help address consumer concerns. There are many factors that can affect our digestive health including family and genetic history, stress, and what we eat.[2]

1. Source: Mintel Report Digestive Health –US 2015. Base: 2,000 internet users aged 18+.

2. National Institutes of Health, Dept of Health & Human Services. Keeping Your Gut in Check; Healthy options to stay on Tract. newsinhealth.nih.gov/issue/May2017

All foods that are fermented require live-and-active cultures to go through that metabolic change, however not all fermented foods contain probiotics.”

Tune into this episode to learn about:

  • The scientific definition of probiotics
  • Probiotics in foods and beverages vs. supplements
  • What is required/not required on food labels
  • How do probiotics and live-and-active cultures differ/compare
  • Probiotic strains and CFUs
  • What is a fermented food/beverage and what are the potential benefits
  • What are prebiotics and what to look for on food labels
  • Can probiotics and prebiotics help with and/or cause gas and bloating
  • Specific products to look for in the grocery store 

With two-thirds of U.S. adults experiencing digestive issues, digestive health has been a high priority trend for multiple years and is anticipated to keep evolving as scientific research expands and further uncovers solutions to help address consumer concerns.”

Elieke Kearns, PhD, RD

Dr. Elieke Kearns is a Principal Nutrition Scientist at PepsiCo where she provides nutrition support for KeVita and PepsiCo’s innovation incubator which is focused on developing and accelerating growth of smaller, emerging brands.

Elieke is on a mission to make food less confusing through her nutrition research expertise, Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) background, and deep appreciation for agriculture and food production. She loves to geek out with her fellow scientists about the complex data, regulations, and research and then share that information in simple sound bites with colleagues, friends, family, neighbors, and health care professionals to enable the innovation of new foods and drinks that are grounded in science as well as empower everyone to make the right food choice for themselves and their patients or clients.

Previously, Elieke worked at RXBAR as the Manager of Scientific Affairs, and at the National Dairy Council as a Director of Nutrition Research. Elieke received her doctoral degree from the University of California, Davis where she completed her Ph.D. in Nutritional Biology with an emphasis in both Immunology as well as Biotechnology. She has a bachelor’s degree in Clinical Nutrition from UC Davis and is a Registered Dietitian.

PepsiCo expertly formulates and tests their products regularly to ensure they have the right amount of the right type (strain) of probiotic.”


PepsiCo resources:

Elieke Kearns: Website/Blog | Instagram | LinkedIn

Related Episodes:

Functional Foods, Beverages and Supplements: Trends & Insights – Sound Bites Podcast Episode #159 with Dr. Shelley Balanko




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Music by Dave Birk

Produced by JAG in Detroit Podcasts


Enjoy The Show?





  1. Coral Beth Rowey on October 14, 2020 at 2:09 pm

    Great information today on the prebiotic, probiotic, fermentation, etc. topic. I’d like information on the 2-page handout and the upcoming webinar with Dr. Hannah Holshire and Dr. Kearns.

    • Melissa Dobbins on October 14, 2020 at 3:59 pm

      Thanks Coral Beth! The links to the handout and the webinar are in the list of resources at the end of the shownotes above.
      Thanks for listening and commenting!

  2. Jena on November 18, 2020 at 12:55 pm

    Such a useful and interesting podcast! Dr. Kearns’ analogies and examples were perfect for nutrition educators and dietitians to use with their clients and honestly, to keep it all straight ourselves. Thank you for sharing the additional resources!

    • Melissa Dobbins on November 19, 2020 at 7:02 pm

      Thank you so much, Jena! So glad you liked the episode and I agree, Dr. Kearns is great at explaining these technical points in an easy to understand way!
      Thanks again for listening to my podcast,

      • Jena on December 7, 2020 at 11:09 am

        Thanks for offering it! Do you by chance have a transcript of this episode? No problem if not, I will just listen through again to recall the exact phrasing she used .

        • Melissa Dobbins on December 8, 2020 at 8:00 pm

          Hi Jena,
          No, I do not have a transcript but am looking into potentially offering those in the future.
          Thank you,

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