Demystifying the world of food with ferments and probiotics

Food, ferments and more

They say you are what you eat. But have you ever paused to think what are you really eating? You have your regular nutrients such as vitamins and minerals, for sure. But the realm of foods is a tad bit more complicated than that. A single morsel of bread or meat can have thousands of mind-bogglingly complex chains of starch or amino acid. Scientists tinkering around their labs have found many different ways to break down these chains, often yielding very interesting results!

One such process is fermentation where microorganisms break down complex organic compounds in products. Let’s take milk for instance. It’s made of proteins, lipids, lactose and a bunch of other complex organic compounds. Certain ferments such as the microorganisms belonging to the Lactobacillus and Streptococcus families can act upon milk under the right conditions. The result? Milk gets transformed into yogurt. Depending on the fermentation process and the ferments used, it could even be transformed into cheese or kefir!

Cheese, bread, wine, and even chocolate are all fermented foods! Deliciously tangy pickles, kimchi and sauerkraut also exist thanks to a specific type of fermentation known as lactic acid fermentation. But fermentation is not just about fizzy and tangy tastes. The process could also make it possible for us to preserve some food for months. It’s no wonder that this centuries-old tradition of fermentation is rising into popularity today.

Microorganisms that drive fermentation

Fermentation is possible only because of the action of little microorganisms such as bacteria and yeast. It is a fascinating world where each microorganism has a role to play and create its own texture and flavour.

When we speak of fermented food, we are referring to tiny, microscopic bacteria often belonging to the lactic acid bacteria family that are working hard to break down complex compounds in food. Sometimes, the bacteria join forces with yeast. For example, bacteria and yeast together transform flour into bread, or soybeans into soy sauce.

Do fermented foods contain probiotics?

The term “Fermented foods” has become synonymous with the new buzzword ‘probiotics’. But it is important to understand that not all fermented foods contain probiotics.

Fermentation involves food preservation and entails modifying specific foods, but some fermented foods contain live cultures that are more about taste and texture. There is even a subset of fermented foods that contain live bacteria which could bring a benefit for health, and these live bacteria are called probiotics.

For example, yogurts are fermented food and some (not all!) contain enough live cultures (Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus bulgaricus) to qualify as yogurts
with probiotics.  Live cultures in yogurts or fermented milk can contribute to the improvement of lactose digestion in people having difficulties digesting it. But they have to be present in quantities of more than 108 CFU per gram in order to qualify as probiotics. 

In addition, yogurts are also a good source of calcium and protein. That’s why it is interesting to include it in your diet.  It’s a versatile food that’s easy to include within healthier lifestyle and diet choices.

Zooming in on Activia – a fermented food

Yogurt is our favourite fermented food with all yogurts containing the live yogurt cultures Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus bulgaricus.

Activia is a yogurt that contains not just a blend of different ferments but also billions of probiotics. Each of the five ferments in it acts in a different way to ultimately offer a taste that’s so unique to us! The combination of our different ferments contribute to our oh-so-delicious creamy texture. One of our star ferments is Bifidus or Bifidobacterium, a culture that reaches your gut alive!  The probiotics Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus bulgaricus in it support the lactose digestion of Activia in people who face difficulties digesting lactose.

Intrigued? Well, you can start treating your taste buds and gut to some delicious Activia on a regular basis! Why not start with one pot a day as part of your balanced diet? Love yourself from the inside!

2021 Danone Ltd. All Rights Reserved. *Activia contains calcium which contributes to the normal function of digestive enzymes. Enjoy as part of a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle.

†Contains naturally occurring sugars.