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Probiotics are living bacteria that occur naturally in and on our bodies. These bacteria are part of our flora. Foods that contain probiotics include yogurt, kefir, salami, brie, sourdough bread, pickles and tempeh.

The survival rate of the bacterial strains (after passing through the digestive system) is of great value in a good probiotic supplement. Therefore, good probiotics contain different types of strains.

More about Probiotics

What are probiotics?

Probiotics are living bacteria that occur naturally in the intestines. In Greek and Latin, "pro biotic" literally means "for life. These bacteria are part of our flora within which several so-called strains are present, each with its own personality. The composition of these strains varies with each stage of life.

Our body contains a combination of over hundreds of billions of living bacteria. Together, these bacteria make up our flora.

Probiotic supplements contain bacterial strains. A bacterial strain consists of a series of bacteria and is distinguished by genus and species. You can recognize a good probiotic dietary supplement by the designation of the bacterial strains.

Common bacterial strains are:

  • Bifidobacterium animalis
  • Bifidobacterium breve
  • Bifidobacterium lactis
  • Bifidobacterium longum
  • Enterococcus faecium
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus
  • Lactobacillus casei
  • Lactobacillus paracasei
  • Lactobacillus plantarum
  • Lactobacillus salivarius
  • Lactococcus lactis

Lactobacillus acidophilus is one of the best known strains of bacteria. The genus of Lactobacillus belongs to the lactic acid bacteria. Lactic acid bacteria convert milk sugar (lactose) into lactic acid (lactate).


Some foods naturally contain live bacteria. But most bacteria are created after a processing process. In this processing, also called fermentation, additional bacteria, fungi or yeasts (microorganisms) are added. For example, white cabbage turns into sauerkraut after a fermentation process.

Other examples of fermented foods that contain probiotics are:

  •  Dairy such as: yogurt, kefir and buttermilk
  • Raw milk cheese such as: brie, roquefort and gorgonzola
  • Beer
  • Wine
  • Salami
  • Kombucha
  • Fermented soy products such as: miso soup, natto and tempeh.
    Sourdough bread
  • Fermented vegetables such as: pickles and kimchi zoals: augurken en kimchi

However, many of the bacteria from foods do not survive the acidity of your stomach. Therefore, a probiotic supplement can be a good addition to your daily diet.

Prebiotics are the indigestible dietary fibers found in vegetables, fruits and grains. These dietary fibers stimulate the growth and activity of bacteria in our digestive system. An example of a common dietary fiber for probiotics is FOS. FOS consists of a combination of inulin and fructo-oligosaccharide fibers.

Not all probiotic supplements contain prebiotics. In infants, for example, this addition is not desirable since the body is not yet developed enough.
A good probiotic contains a combination of pre- and probiotics, provided the body is sufficiently developed (in babies this is not the case). Probiotics have a greater chance of survival when prebiotics are present.

Research shows that a probiotic with multiple strains is of higher quality than a probiotic with only one strain. Compare it to a team of people with different characteristics. Everyone contributes their part so they are able to help and complement each other as needed.

Finally, it is important that the probiotic strains survive the digestive juices in the gastrointestinal tract. The number of cfu/g* - the amount of colony-forming units per gram - is less important than the metabolic activity of the probiotics. After all, it is of no use to you if the bacteria do not survive the acidic environments in the body.
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