What are Live Cultures?

Benefits of live cultures

Live cultures – also often referred to as probiotics – are living microorganisms that offer a host of health benefits. They are found in certain fermented foods, drinks and in the form of daily supplements.

These cultures are considered “good” or “friendly” bacteria that help maintain a balanced and healthy microbial environment in the body, particularly in the gut.

What do live cultures do for your body?

Good gut health is something we care a lot about, and more and more people are understanding the vital role it plays in our overall wellbeing.

Our gut is the home of trillions of tiny microbes that make up a complex microbiome. When we refer to good gut health, we are talking about the balance of good and bad bacteria in the digestive system, or gut.

Probiotics can help maintain a diverse and healthy gut microbiome, which is important because the microbiome performs several vital functions, including:

  • Generating certain vitamins (such as B vitamins and vitamin K)
  • Regulating the immune system
  • Protecting against harmful pathogens

The microbiome is also known for its crucial role in digestion: it helps break down complex carbohydrates and fibres that the human body cannot digest on its own.

Live cultures benefits

Up to 70-80% of the body’s immune cells are found in the gut, according to research, and taking probiotics can help your immune system perform better by promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria and inhibiting the growth of harmful ones.

Are live cultures good for you?

Probiotics can also aid in absorbing nutrients and preventing too much harmful bacteria developing in the gut. Some food and drink intolerances can stem from this unhealthy bacteria in the gut, which may cause you to struggle to digest certain foods, leading to bloating, indigestion and even IBS.

If you’ve recently been on antibiotics, it’s recommended that you also take probiotics, as this can replenish the good bacteria to help your body ward off negative gut reactions.

Live cultures in food

So, we know that live cultures are good for your gut, but where are they found? Consuming probiotics in supplement form is a common way to make sure you get enough of them, but you can also find them from fermented foods.

What are live cultures in yogurt?

One of the most familiar sources of natural live cultures, yoghurt is made by fermenting milk with specific bacterial strains, such as Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus.

Other foods that contain live cultures:

Sauerkraut – fermented cabbage is a good source of live cultures, particularly Lactobacillus bacteria.

Kimchi – a traditional Korean side dish made from fermented vegetables, primarily Napa cabbage and Korean radishes. It is rich in beneficial bacteria and has a spicy and tangy flavour.

Miso – a Japanese seasoning made from fermented soybeans, barley or rice. It contains beneficial bacteria, and it is often used in soups and marinades.

Pickles – some types of pickles, specifically those made through fermentation rather than vinegar brining, can also contain live cultures. Look for pickles labelled as “fermented” or “naturally fermented.”

Cheese – certain types of cheese like Gouda, cheddar and Swiss are made using live cultures to initiate fermentation.

Live cultures in drinks

Live cultures can also be found a some drinks, like:

Kefir – a popular fermented milk drink, originating from the mountainous region that divides Asia and Europe. It contains a combination of bacteria and yeast strains is often used as a base for smoothies.

Kombucha – another popular drink made by fermenting sweet tea with a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) and you can make it yourself at home.

Probiotic soda – with probiotics going mainstream, they are also now available in soda form.

What are live cultures in kombucha?

Kombucha is another popular drink made by fermenting sweet tea with a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) and you can make it yourself at home.

Live cultures vs probiotics

Live cultures and probiotics are often used interchangeably.

They can both contribute to the balance of the gut microbiome, but while all probiotics contain live cultures, not all products with live cultures are considered probiotics.

Live cultures refer to the presence of living microorganisms, which are active when you consume them.

Best live cultures for gut health

Many people take live culture supplements to ensure they get a sufficient dose every day, to support their gut’s rich microflora.

Our advanced gut-smart LIVE is a multi-strain blend of 14 billion healthy bacteria, including Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, with Inulin.

To survive the high acidity of stomach acid, it’s suggested that you take live cultures at mealtimes.

At gut-smart, we source only the finest ingredients from verified suppliers for all of our products – for that good gut feeling.

Want to learn more? Check out these related articles:

What is Indigestion?

Pre-Biotics or Pro-Biotics: What’s the Difference?

Why is Heartburn Worse at Night?