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The Benefits of Probiotic Drinks

by Amber Fairweather |

Probiotic drinks such as kombucha, kefirs and correctly fermented ginger beers have been shown to contain beneficial microorganisms. Research shows that these microorganisms, usually consisting of bacteria and yeasts, have been linked to multiple health benefits. To maintain good health, is it widely researched and known that as humans we need to maintain a good balance of beneficial bacteria in our human microbiomes. One way to achieve this is by eating a variety of good quality fresh produce and fermented foods and fermented probiotic drinks.  


What are probiotic drinks? 

Probiotic drinks are a range of beverages that have usually undergone a natural process of fermentation. Fermented beverages can either be cultured through processes of wild fermentation, the introduction of freeze dried cultures or more authentically through the process of introducing a particular living culture which then ferments the liquid to produce a particular ferment. Each and every fermented drink has its own particular culture to ferment it and more often than not these cultures cannot be grown at home without having a mother culture to start with. These mother cultures cleverly consist of helpful bacteria and yeasts that work in synergy to bring you healthy probiotic drinks. 

Probiotic drinks are naturally fermented to help support your gut health and immune system by introducing a range of probiotic bacteria, prebiotics and beneficial yeasts which sometimes cannot be extracted or created in the laboratory or found in pharmaceutical probiotics. Many of these probiotic strains include various strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium bacteria, as well as yeast strains like Saccharomyces.

The benefits of probiotic drinks 

Probiotic drinks have shown to support our health in a myriad of ways: 

Gut Health:

By introducing and maintaining the introduction of probiotics, our bodies are supported in maintaining healthy balances of bacteria and yeasts across all of our microbiomes. These crucial balances aid digestion, support immune functions, nutrient absorption as well as many overall health benefits. 


Nutrient absorption:

Gut bacteria work as little helpful aids in breaking down foods and making their nutrition more available for the uptake by our bodies, especially for minerals and vitamins. 


Digestive health:

Healthy gut microbiota helps with maintaining our digestive tract which in turn can help with issues such as bloating, autoimmune disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, bloating and diarrhea. When we have a dysbiosis of gut bacteria, we often see the permeability of our digestive tract walls which leads to foreign matter entering our bodies, resulting in unfortunate autoimmune issues. 

Improve Immune Systems:

Much research suggests that our microbiota play important roles in supporting our immune systems. Not only by maintaining healthy digestive tracts and nutrient absorption but also in their ability to modulate immune responses and their abilities to defend against pathogens, infections and illnesses. 

Dental health:

As humans, we have multiple microbiomes, although the gut microbiome is the most referred to. Having healthy oral health supports the balance of bacteria in the mouth which helps prevent issues such as gum disease and cavities which can have a systemic impact on the rest of our bodies. 

Mental Health:

Research has suggested that there is a connection between our gut and brain, known as the gut-brain axis. Our probiotic bacteria can influence this axis which can contribute to our mood regulations, emotions and mental health. 

    Best types of probiotic drinks to buy 

    By now it is evident that the benefits of probiotics and good bacteria are undeniable. One way to consume probiotics is by introducing fermented foods and probiotic drinks. Fortunately, there are many options to choose from including: kombucha, milk kefir and dairy-free milk kefir, other probiotic-labeled drinks and water kefir. A few things you want to make sure is that they are truly offering what they advertise to be offering. Many ferments on the market now are actually dilutions or reconstitutions. If the drink is shelf stable, you need to really consider the viability of living organisms in the product. Due to the living organisms, most probiotic drinks must be chilled. Additionally to this, some drinks simply just have the probiotics added to them. These probiotics are often formulated in laboratories from a limited range of specific strains. 

    Alternative to this is the use of active cultures to culture and ferment probiotic drinks. Symbiota has been hand nurturing and growing its own cultures for the past 5 years, while the people behind Symbiota have been working with cultures their entire lives. Symbiota only uses real authentic water kefir grains to ferment our Probiotic Kefir Sodas which is now a probiotic drink in NZ that you can purchase from various stores including online. 


    How do I know which probiotic drink in NZ to buy?

    Look for a drink that requires chilled storage, if it is in the shelf stable aisle it is likely to have been pasteurised and no longer has the probiotic bacteria you are after. Water kefir is a great offering currently as it caffeine-free, is not tangy and has a gentle flavour palate in comparison to other fermented drinks, making it more appealing to the entire family. 

    It is also important to not fall for the cheaper options as these are mostly dilutions and do not have the probiotic content you might be after. At Symbiota we believe in looking for options that have natural products, while being mindful that “natural flavours or extracts” are actually still created in a laboratory and while they might sound great, this is highly debatable. 

    Are probiotic drinks good for you?

    There is an abundance of research showing the importance and benefits of the introduction and maintenance of probiotics. While we thrive off hearing customers' benefits and health improvements; it is always advisable to speak to your doctor or registered dietitian when introducing new foods especially if you have major sensitivities. 

    Can you drink probiotic drinks every day? 

    To maintain probiotic bacteria in our bodies, it is important to consume these beneficial microorganisms frequently along with prebiotics to keep them fed and happy. In an ideal world, one would consume a variety of different probiotic drinks and foods daily. The key to having a healthy gut is to consume as wide a variety of fresh veg, fruits and fermented foods and drinks as possible. It is not always the quantity that we should be after, but rather the variety in different probiotic strains. 


    Are drinkable probiotics better than probiotics pills? 

    While probiotic pills can guarantee a particular strain of bacteria, they are usually limited in the number of different strains they offer. Probiotic drinks that are cultured or fermented with living and active cultures usually offer a huge variety of bacterial strains, while probiotic pills usually only offer a handful of the most common strains. Read our blog about why probiotics capsules can never be as good as taking fermented foods and drinks to find out more.

    What makes Symbiota Probiotic Kefir Sodas different from the rest of the probiotic drinks in New Zealand?

    While we may be biased, these are our main points as to why we believe the Probiotic Kefir Sodas are the best on the market.

    • We are experts in the field of growing cultures and all things fermenting. Not only do we know how to brew and ferment for the kitchen bench, but we know how to scale fermentation practices safely and effectively. 

    • We use natural living cultures to ferment our Probiotic Kefir Sodas (not freeze dried lab curated cultures)

    • We do not dilute our Probiotic kefir Sodas. Some drinks require dilution to lower sugar and alcohol levels, which in turn may also lower probiotic concentration. 

    • Symbiota Probiotic Kefir Sodas are batch tested for alcohol and have lower alcohol content than many kombuchas and even fruit juices!

    • We only use real ingredients. We do not use “natural extracts, flavors or sweeteners”, we only use real fruit, water, cultures and organic sugars to ferment our drinks. 

    • While natural flavours, extracts and sweeteners may sound great, there is lots of research now to show that these are not as great as they sound. 

    • Although our product requires sugar for the fermentation process, most of this sugar is consumed by the active cultures and the remaining amount of sugar per Probiotic Kefir Soda is around the 2-3.5% (1/2 tsp of sugar) range by the time it reaches the consumer. Keeping in mind that a large portion of this small amount of sugar is from natural fruit. As a comparison a coke has 10-12% (10 tsp ) sugar in a can of coke, which is usually made up from corn syrup and cane sugar.