Health and Medical

Buttermilk As Probiotic

What are Probiotics?

This is the modern definition of probiotics, drafted by joint expert consultation of the Food and Agricultural Organization and the World Health Organization in Argentina (2001).

Concept of Probiotic

Let’s first know about Microbiome…

Collection of all the microorganisms, living in association with the human body is known as human Microbiome. The microbiome is generally not harmful to humans; in fact, they are essential for maintaining health.

How Microbiome helps?

  1. They produce some vitamins that humans do not have the genes to make.
  2. Microbiome breaks down food to nutrients that humans need to survive.
  3. Teach human immune systems to recognize foreign invaders.
  4. The microbiome also has some anti-inflammatory functions to eliminate other disease-causing microbes.

In some disease conditions, this microbiome gets affected. Replacing affected microbiome or adding microbes to the microbiome can alter disease conditions. From this point, the concept of using probiotics for prevention & treatment came. When the human body loses parts of Microbiome, like after taking antibiotics after diarrhea, etc probiotics can be used to replace them. Probiotics can be used to balance Microbiome and “bad” bacteria to keep the body working the way it should.

Let’s start with definitions:


Prebiotics are metabolic fuel that microorganisms in the gastrointestinal tract used for their survival.


When Probiotic organisms and prebiotics are served as a composition it’s often called synbiotics.

By definition Pro, Pre & Synbiotics are not the same. That’s why; Probiotics should not be confused with prebiotics or Synbiotics.

There is disagreement about whether dead or deactivated microorganisms or microbial products should be included in the term “Probiotics”.

Some Commonly Used probiotics:

Health benefits have mainly been demonstrated for specific probiotic strains of the following genera: Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, Saccharomyces boulardii, Enterococcus durans, Enterococcus faecium, Streptococcus thermophilus, Lactococcus lactis, Bacillus subtilis, Escherichia coli Nissle 1917 etc.

How Probiotic works?

In Gastrointestinal tract Probiotics reduce the growth of pathogenic microorganisms,

  1. By fostering colonization resistance,
  2. By improving intestinal transit,
  3. By helping normalize a perturbed microbiota.

Probiotics help in

  1. Production of bioactive metabolites (e.g., short-chain fatty acids)
  2. Reduction of luminal pH in the colon

Probiotics also help in

  1. Vitamin synthesis,
  2. Gut barrier reinforcement,
  3. Bile salt metabolism,
  4. Enzymatic activity, and
  5. Toxin neutralization.

Through all of these mechanisms, probiotics have a wide range of impacts on human health and disease.

Buttermilk as Probiotic

In Balkans, South Asia, the Middle East, and the Southern United States, Buttermilk is a popular fermented dairy drink. Buttermilk is the liquid leftover from churning butter from cultured or fermented cream. In many Indian, Nepalese, Pakistani, and Arab households traditional buttermilks are a very common drink.

There are different methods for making buttermilk. Previously, buttermilk was fermented by naturally occurring bacteria as unpasteurized buttercream sat for a length of time before churning. But nowadays, as most of the milk and cream are pasteurized (this process kills the naturally occurring bacteria), buttermilk is made by reintroducing the probiotic bacteria that give buttermilk its sour taste.

Only a very limited number of scientific reports have been published on the use of butter-milk as a vehicle for probiotic cultures. Some of those suggest that buttermilk-like fermented milk can be a suitable carrier food to supply consumers with probiotic micro-organisms.

Commercially available cultured buttermilk is milk that has inoculated with a culture of Lactococcus lactis or Lactobacillus bulgaricus plus Leuconostoc citrovorum to simulate the naturally occurring bacteria in the old-fashioned buttermilk.

Keep in mind that most of the cultured buttermilk found on supermarket shelves does not contain live probiotics, so check before buy.

Other than probiotic benefits, in hot & humid weather, a glass of buttermilk also recharges essential nutrients, reduces prickly heat and overcome general uneasiness.


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Fijan S. Microorganisms with claimed probiotic properties: an overview of recent literature. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2014;11(5):4745-4767. DOI:10.3390/ijerph110504745

Office of dietary supplements – probiotics. Accessed March 3, 2020.

August 2016 AB 31. Buttermilk: nutrition facts and benefits. Accessed March 3, 2020.

Antunes AEC, Silva ÉRA, Dender AGFV, et al. Probiotic buttermilk-like fermented milk product development in a semi-industrial scale: Physicochemical, microbiological and sensory acceptability. International Journal of Dairy Technology. 62(4):556-563.

May 2014 LSS 14. What is buttermilk? Accessed March 3, 2020.

The best probiotic foods everyone should eat. BodyNutrition. Published July 24, 2017. Accessed March 3, 2020.

Buttermilk. In: Wikipedia. ; 2020. Accessed March 3, 2020.

Buttermilk. In: Wikipedia. ; 2020. Accessed March 3, 2020.

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