In this blog: We look into the differences between fermented foods and probiotic supplements to see which one may be better for you.   [3-4 Min Read] 

Probiotics in Food 

Probiotics are a collection of good bacteria that help the body function normally. There are many different ways to get probiotics into your body. One of the most common ways people get their probiotics is through the food they eat. Here are some examples of probiotic rich foods that can easily be added to the diet: 


Kimchi is a fermented, spicy side dish loved throughout Korea. This dish is usually made with cabbage and other vegetables including garlic, ginger, and scallions. Because of the fermented nature of this dish, it is chock full of probioticsusually lactobacillusand is good for gut health.  


Kombucha is fermented black or green tea that, while common in many parts of Asia, has seen a rise in popularity in America. This drink is usually at the center of incredible health claims and fad diets, but there is little evidence that kombucha is as beneficial as typically stated. However, because of the fermented nature of the drink, probiotic benefits are present.  


Pickles, also known as gherkins, are cucumbers preserved in a solution of salt and water. Pickles made with salt and water go through a fermentation process of the cucumbers own naturally present lactic acid bacteria, which makes them a great source of healthy probiotics that may improve digestive health. They are also low in calories and a good source of vitamin K, an essential nutrient for blood clotting. However, because of the fermentation preservation process, they tend to be high in sodium. Pickles that are made with vinegar do not contain live probiotics.  

Apple Cider Vinegar 

There are many benefits to apple cider vinegar. In addition to controlling blood pressure, reducing cholesterol levels, and improving insulin sensitivity, apple cider vinegar can also help ramp up probiotic intake as well. It can be added as a salad dressing or topping to your favorite dishes in order to maximize your results. 

Traditional Buttermilk 

Traditional buttermilk, also called cultured buttermilk, is a fermented drink that is made from the liquid that is left over after churning butter. Its considered one of the top probiotic Indian foods and is commonly consumed in countries such as Nepal and Pakistan. Keep in mind that most types of buttermilk found at supermarkets do not contain probiotics. Instead, look for varieties that contain live cultures to boost the benefits of your buttermilk. 

Raw Cheese 

Goats milk, sheeps milk, and A2 cows soft cheeses are particularly high in probiotics including thermophilus, bifidus, bulgaricus, and acidophilus. Always buy raw and unpasteurized cheeses if you want to receive any probiotics as pasteurized and processed varieties are lacking in beneficial bacteria. 

How to Get More Probiotics into Your Diet 

Eating more foods that are rich in probiotics is a simple way to enhance your overall health as well as the health of your gut microbiome. As a result of eating more probiotics, you may even begin to feel better mentally and physically. To get started, you should make some straightforward adjustments to your diet. Alternatives to sugary sodas, fruit juices, and energy drinks in favor of drinks that are fermented, such as kombucha, can be better selections to support your overall health. You could additionally substitute regular yogurt for probiotic-rich yogurt, pasteurized cheese for raw cheese, and regular milk for raw milk. All of these options should be available at your local supermarket. 

You may also want to try including some of these probiotic foods in your normal meals for a bit more variety and flavor if you eat the same things every day. Main meals suitable for vegans and vegetarians include tempeh and sauerkraut, while vinegars such as apple cider and balsamic work particularly well in vinaigrettes and salad dressings. It doesn't matter how you choose to get your daily dose of these natural probiotic foods; the most important thing is to get creative in the kitchen and to overcome your natural reluctance to try out new recipes and ingredients. This will allow you to prepare meals that are both healthy and delicious.  

What about Probiotic Supplements?  

Probiotic rich foods only contain a certain amount of the good bacteria needed to rebalance the gut microbiome. The number is low enough that it would require extremely high levels of consumption to reach the ideal bacterial balance. If your bodily situation is more dire, it might be too much to accomplish with food alone.  

This is where probiotic supplements step in. In order to obtain the necessary bacterial count to bring back balance to the gut, a supplement could provide enough live microorganisms to survive through the digestive system and into the gut itself. Supplements usually contain anywhere from 1-10 billion CFUs (short for Colony Forming Units) or up to 100 billion CFUs. These numbers are far higher than what is found naturally in probiotic-rich foods.  

It may, therefore, be best for some to include supplements in their daily routine depending on the symptoms they are experiencing or personal preferences for probiotic intake. This doesnt mean that probiotic-rich foods should be ignored; rather, they are important for overall health maintenance. Everybody is different and will have different needs that might require the use of supplements. Always speak to a medical professional if you have questions relating to your body and if supplements are right for you. 

Three advantages of getting your probiotics through supplements  

1. You can target your supplement intake to meet very precise demands. 

Taking a pill that contains probiotics can help in a few different ways. If you're trying to cure a certain health condition, taking a supplement with the appropriate strain of bacteria could be the difference between success and failure. The lactobacillus acidophilus strain DDS-1, for example, has been proven to reduce lactose intolerance symptoms and the lactobacillus rhamnosus GG strain has been demonstrated to reduce antibiotic-induced diarrhea symptoms.  

2. Probiotic variety may be obtained from supplemental sources. 

Whereas a food product like yogurt might only include one or two strains of helpful bacteria, supplements provide you the option of selecting a multi-strain blend to maximize the diversity of the microorganisms you consume. For example, many over-the-counter probiotics have multiple of the most effective probiotic strains available in one daily pill. 

3. Many probiotics do not contain any of the common allergens or artificial sweeteners. 

In addition, many probiotic supplements are allergy-free unlike a number of probiotic-rich meals that are based on soy and dairy (i.e., dairy, soy, wheat, gluten). Supplements can also help you eat less sugar and other sweets which is important to know since sugar can disrupt the beneficial microorganisms in your digestive tract. 

Questions to Ask when Choosing Between Food and Supplements 

Are you looking to address a specific health issue or symptom?  

If your response is "yes," then it is strongly suggested that you work together with a qualified medical professional to narrow the range of probable bacterial strains to those that are most relevant to the problems you are experiencing with your health. Because supplements give you the opportunity to pick and choose which strains you take, it's feasible that you'd prefer them to foods where you have less control over the strains you ingest. Foods dont provide you with this type of freedom and flexibility.  

If you answered "no," you could find that maintaining a diet rich in probiotic foods is all that is required to keep your digestive system and immune system in good shape. All you need to do is follow a healthy diet! 

Do your probiotic-rich foods deliver micronutrients? 

When it comes to nutrients, it is preferable to obtain one's probiotics via full meals as opposed to tablets because whole meals typically contain a greater variety and quantity of nutrients. A recent study evaluated the quantities of nutrient intake from foods and supplements and showed that the benefits associated with nutrients derived from foods were distinct from those derived from supplements. This is despite the fact that supplements do increase total nutrient consumption. For instance, foods that are high in probiotics include vitamins that are necessary for good bodily function, plant compounds that can protect the body from oxidative damage and stress, and fiber, which is the most critical ingredient for maintaining healthy gastrointestinal function. Many various kinds of fiber provide prebiotics, also known as "food" for the probiotics that live in your gastrointestinal tract. In order for probiotics to survive, they require sustenance just like humans do! 

Do all fermented foods contain live probiotics? 

The use of cultured dairy products like yogurt and kefir, as well as fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, tempeh, natto, miso, and kombucha, are all excellent ways to get your hands on some beneficial probiotic bacteria. However, in order for the benefits of these meals to be realized after consumption, the probiotic bacteria that are included in these foods must still be alive. It may be challenging to accomplish this goal since the viability of probiotic organisms might be negatively impacted by the conditions connected with the processing and storage of food. If you adhere to these recommendations, there will be a greater possibility that the probiotic bacteria found in the foods you purchase are alive and thriving. Do not make the assumption that every yogurt contains live probiotics simply because yogurt exists. Be sure to check the label to see if it mentions "live" or "active cultures." Due to the fact that sauerkraut helps to maintain live germs, it is essential to purchase kinds that have not been pasteurized. If you want to take advantage of the probiotic benefits of pickles, fermented pickles made without vinegar are the way to go. 


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