Fermented foods vs probiotics

Are all fermented foods probiotics?

This is a very common question and the simple answer is that most fermented foods are not probiotics. But with the help of Louise Nörregård, MSc, Application Scientist at Probi we are diving deeper into this question to explain why there is a difference and if there are fermented food products that could be both. Watch the video to learn more and how to make sure you know where to find your probiotics.

What you need to know about the difference between fermented foods and probiotics.


Video transcription:

Probiotics are living microorganisms, that when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host. There are high demands on clinical data needed to support the benefits of certain bacterial strains to be able to call them probiotics.

Fermented foods are foods or beverages produced through controlled microbial growth and enzymatic conversions of food components. Yoghurt, kombucha, sourdough bread and kimchi are good examples. The fermentation processes give each final product its own distinct taste and smell, due to the microbial activity. However, there are no expectations that fermented foods will provide health benefits to the consumer.

Also, not all fermented foods contain living microbes. Some products, such as kombucha and yoghurt do contain living microbes; however, many other fermented products are exposed to high heat during their manufacturing processes (for example pasteurization, baking, or canning) which kills the microbes; therefore, without living microbes these products cannot be classified as a probiotic.

Other reasons why many fermented foods cannot be called probiotics is that the microbes are not defined on a strain level and may not have proven health benefits. In addition, not all fermented foods or beverages have adequate amounts of live microbes to qualify as a probiotic. The live microbes present in many fermented products are there for one main reason – to perform the fermentation process (for example to convert milk into yogurt or cheese; or cabbage into kimchi).

Are there fermented food products that could be both?

Yes, many probiotic strains can ferment animal or plant-based foods and you will get a tasty product with the required dose of probiotic maintaining in the product throughout the shelf life.

There are also some products, such as probiotic yoghurts, where probiotic strains have been added for health benefits; however, the fermentation process is performed by the yoghurt cultures.

There is still the possibility that some fermented foods are beneficial in similar ways to probiotics, but more clinical studies need to be performed. In the meantime, you can continue to enjoy both tasty, fermented foods as well as adding clinically supported probiotics to your diet.

If you are interested in learning more about probiotics or anything else concerning the microbiome, please reach out at expert@probi.com


Interested in learning some more from our scientists?

Probiotic Expertise Stability Web Banner 1500X625

Product development

What you should know about probiotic stability

Do you know how to ensure the stability of your probiotic product? Learn about the aspects that might impact your product.

Read more
Probiotic Expertise Potency Web Banner 1500X625

Product development

Do you know why CFU are important?

Why CFU are important? Is a higher CFU value more effective? Let us explain how this matters for your product.

Read more
Probiotic Expertise Clinical Evidence Web Banner 1500X625

Scientific knowledge

How to evaluate clinical evidence?

Here are the things to consider when evaluating the science and the clinical documentation of a probiotic strain.

Read more