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  • Writer's pictureJane Webber Nutrition

Probiotics and Fermented - What's the difference?

We keep seeing about the benefits of probiotics and fermented foods, so are they the same?

Probiotic foods and fermented foods are related but not identical.

Probiotic foods are specifically designed or fortified with live beneficial bacteria, known as probiotics. These bacteria, such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, can have positive effects on gut health when consumed in adequate amounts. Examples of probiotic foods include yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi.

Fermented foods, on the other hand, refer to a broader category of foods that have undergone a fermentation process using various microorganisms, including bacteria, yeasts, or moulds.

Fermentation is a metabolic process in which these microorganisms convert carbohydrates into alcohol, organic acids, or gases.

This process can enhance the food's flavour, texture, and nutritional profile.

Fermented foods include yoghurt, sourdough bread, pickles, kombucha, and miso.

While some fermented foods can contain probiotics, not all fermented foods are necessarily rich in live beneficial bacteria.

The fermentation process may produce other beneficial compounds, such as vitamins, enzymes, and organic acids, which can benefit health.

In summary, probiotic foods are specifically formulated with live beneficial bacteria, while fermented foods encompass a broader range of foods that have undergone fermentation, which may or may not contain probiotics.

Do probiotic foods have particular strains of bacteria?

Probiotic foods often contain specific strains of bacteria that are known to confer health benefits.

Different strains of bacteria may have different effects on the body, so the specific strains used in probiotic foods can vary.

Each strain of bacteria has its own characteristics and potential health benefits.

For example, Lactobacillus acidophilus is known for its ability to help digest lactose and produce lactic acid, while Bifidobacterium bifidum has been associated with supporting the immune system.

The selection of strains used in probiotic foods is often based on scientific research supporting their efficacy and safety.

When choosing probiotic foods or supplements, looking for specific strain information on the product labels can be helpful. Different strains may have different effects, so understanding the strains present in a probiotic product can assist in selecting one that suits individual needs or desired health benefits.

What about fermented foods, do they have specific strains of bacteria?

Yes, fermented foods can contain specific strains of bacteria, although the strains can vary depending on the type of fermentation process used.

The specific strains of bacteria present in fermented foods are often determined by the ingredients, fermentation conditions, and starter cultures used in the process.

Do the strains in probiotic foods work on particular health issues?

Certain strains of bacteria used in probiotic foods have been studied for their potential effects on specific health issues.

However, it's important to note that research in this area is ongoing, and the evidence for specific strains and their effects on health is still evolving.

Different strains of bacteria may have different mechanisms of action and may be more effective for certain health conditions than others.

It's important to note that the effects of probiotics can vary from person to person, and not all strains may be effective for everyone or for all health conditions.

The strains and their effectiveness can also depend on factors such as dosage, formulation, and the individual's specific health status.

It's advisable to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized guidance regarding the use of probiotic foods for specific health issues.

Why? You could be spending money on products that don't address your particular issue, so spending time speaking with a specialist may, in the long term, be more cost-effective.

Also, and most definitely in my case, my social media feed is full of adverts for probiotic drinks, powders and pills promoting gut health etc., and you may have no idea of the contents and amounts of bacteria.

Thanks for reading this and why not come and join my free Facebook group for more information about healthy eating?

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