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Everything you need to know about Live Cultures 

by Amber Fairweather |

What is live culture?

Live or active cultures are microorganisms which are commonly consumed through foods and beverages we eat. Examples of live cultures include the commonly known Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. They are often referred to as probiotics as well. These microorganisms are found in our foods and often aid with the fermentation of foods and drinks. 


Live cultures are known as strains which belong to a group of species and species. For example, the name “Rosell-52” belongs to the species Acidophilus and is often referred to as Lactobacillus acidophilus Rosell-52. 


Although they are often referred to as bacteria, there are also many beneficial yeasts that make up them. 

How does live culture work?

Live cultures are often used to transform foods and drinks. For example, live cultures in milk are used to transform the milk into yogurt. 


It also helps our bodies to maintain healthy communities of microorganisms and a balanced gut. It promotes the balance of bacteria in the gut which results in promoted health and wellbeing; mentally and physically.

Benefits of live cultures 

Live cultures help promote a healthy balanced gut which supports your body to work optimally. By ensuring plentiful consumption of live cultures and a wide variety of them, you will support the balance of a healthy gut microbial community. This helps to outnumber the unwanted bacteria and fight off any pathogenic microorganisms which we are exposed to. 


Love cultures support the digestion of our food and the absorption of nutrients. Often foods with live cultures have enhanced minerals and vitamins. For example, fermented cabbage contains more vitamin c than fresh cabbage. 


What does contain live culture mean?

If food states it contains live cultures, this means it is alive with good bacteria for your gut health. It is important that this food has not been pasteurized as high heats kill these helpful bacteria. For example, yogurt contains Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus which are living cultures that are used to convert milk to yogurt during fermentation. 


What food has live cultures?

All fermented foods and drinks are teeming with different live cultures or probiotic bacteria. This makes it easy for you to choose a ferment which suits your flavor and health requirements. It is beneficial to eat as wide a variety of live cultures as possible, so it is important to slowly introduce a variety of ferments if possible. Fermented foods and drinks include:



What is the difference between probiotics and live culture?

Probiotics and live cultures are terms often used interchangeably. While both refer to living microorganisms probiotics are usually referred to microorganisms which are known for their health benefits. According to The World Health Organization (WHO), probiotics are “live microorganisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit to the host”. Probiotic bacteria benefit the host's health by restoring gut flora and inhibiting unwanted bacteria from overgrowing and imbalancing the gut. Git flora refers to the microorganisms that inhabit the gastrointestinal tract which support healthy living, by supporting digestion, absorption of nutrients and enhanced immune system. 


When should I take live cultures?

Although there is differing information on when the best time to take live cultures is, there are a couple popular beliefs. It should be taken on an empty stomach to support them moving through the acidity of the stomach as quickly as possible to make it through to the small intestine.  Another belief is that it should be consumed at night time before going to bed. This is because of the lessened activity of the digestive tract, allowing live cultures to take a hold in the digestive tract than being moved through. 


Want to make your own fermented food and drinks? At Symbiota, we have a range of fermentation kits for beginners, and those more experienced. If you are not accustomed to eating fermented foods, start off with just a little and build up to several tablespoons a day.