Are probiotic foods better than fermented foods?

Eating gut-friendly foods is crucial because they not only promote better digestion but also weight loss. Although there are numerous options available, people are particularly looking forward to probiotic foods and fermented foods because of the healthy bacteria they contain. Even though there’s a buzz around eating these foods, do you find yourself scratching your head over what may be better if your eyes are set on following a healthy diet and weight loss? Come, let’s compare the two and see what the differences are.

Health Shots spoke to Roopshree Jaiswal, Consultant – Dietitian/Nutritionist, Motherhood Hospitals, Mechanic Nagar, Indore, to understand the difference between probiotics and fermented foods and which one is better.

Jaiswal says, “A good diet can improve your overall body function and gut health to a great extent. Probiotics are live microorganisms that are beneficial for your body and brain. Another way to get these beneficial bacteria is through fermented food. These healthy bacteria have many functions to play in your body, such as improving digestive and heart health.” Though having these healthy bacteria in your body is necessary, many people find themselves confused when it comes to choosing between probiotic supplements and fermented food. So, let’s understand their advantage and disadvantages.

Probiotic foods
Probiotics can play a role in preventing infections. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Probiotic foods vs fermented foods

Before you understand the difference, first know their benefits.

Here’s why you need probiotics in your diet:

Probiotics are strands of healthy bacteria that are important for the overall health of your gut. Probiotics perform a wide range of important tasks, including regulating mood, enhancing the immune system, reducing inflammation, eliminating toxins, and helping with digestion and metabolism.

Also read: Probiotic v/s Prebiotic: What’s the difference and which one is better

Jaiswal says, “Many people consume it in the form of supplements which are easily available in the market in form of pills, capsules, powder, liquids, etc. but there is a long debate if these supplements are as beneficial as they claim to be. That’s why the best way to ensure probiotics in your body is through a good diet and adding some food items to your diet can ensure this.”

Here’s why you need fermented foods in your diet:

Fermented foods are indeed superfoods. It is basically a process in which a microbe turns to sugar and starch into alcohol and acid. Fermentation is a process used to create foods like pickles, vinegar-heavy sauces, kombucha, kefir, and even your favourite South Indian staples like idli and dosa, sauerkraut, and cheese.

Fermented foods are not different from probiotics, as fermented foods are actually a very good source of probiotics as well. But that’s not the case with every fermented food.

When it comes to the benefits of fermented foods, they can promote good bacteria, which can encourage nutrient absorption and prevent blood sugar levels. Apart from being rich in fiber and high in low carbohydrates, they also have quality protein, vitamins B and C, and minerals. These characteristics allow fermented foods to regulate weight loss and aid in the management of cholesterol and heart disease.

Probiotic foods
Include fermented foods in your diet today! Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Is one better than another?

While both are incredibly healthy and essential to your diet, you should prefer fermented foods. These can provide a good amount of probiotics as well so that you can get the benefits of both, probiotic and fermented foods.

5 best-fermented foods that are also high in probiotics:

1. Kefir

It is a cultured dairy product that is made by adding kefir grains to the milk. Kefir is a mixture of yeast and bacteria and is known to be beneficial against digestive ailments, bone problems, and body inflammation.

Also read: Take the help of fermented food to boost immunity if nothing else is working for you

2. Cottage cheese

Though cheese is generally made with fermentation but not all kinds of cheese are rich in probiotics. Cottage cheese is not only tasty but will provide your body with the bacterial health it needs.

Probiotic foods
Eat cheese with caution. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

3. Buttermilk

Traditional buttermilk, that is the milk left after making the butter, is very rich in probiotic bacteria. You may want to go for cultured buttermilk, but they don’t have any probiotic health associated with them.

4. Yogurt

No one can deny that yogurt is one of the best sources of probiotics. It is beneficial for people with bowel problems and high blood pressure.

5. Kimchi

Traditional Korean cuisine known as kimchi is made by fermenting vegetables with probiotic lactic acid bacteria. It may help with weight loss, boost immunity, and fight inflammation.

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