Fermentation is a traditional way of preservation. Each culture and region has a fermented drink to boast of. Most are made from fruits, herbs, grains or tea leaves. They are allowed to ferment which allows healthy probiotic bacteria to flourish, making them very healthy for the gut. Fermented drinks are spoken of as Functional foods: that is foods that bring benefits to the body beyond the nutrients present in them. In addition to good bacteria, most are concentrated sources of phytonutrients and antioxidants.
We bring you some of these amazing thirst quenchers that are also health boosters. With summers around the corner, try some of them to hydrate the healthy way.
In India we have some amazing probiotic fermented drinks:
1. Lassi/Chaas: Is the first fermented dairy drink that comes to mind. Tempered with digestive spices like zeera, it is an amazing probiotic drink that provides calcium and protein and soothes digestion.
(Also Read: 5 Probiotic Drinks That May Help Build Immunity)
2. Koozh: or Koozhu is a Tamilian favourite. It can be made with any cereal grain but is mostly made with Ragi. Ragi is a nutritious millet, rich in iron, easy to digest and is loaded with antioxidants. In addition, it has buttermilk, another nutritious probiotic rich ingredient.
3. Kanji: An all-time favourite, it is made from beetroot and black or purple carrots. It is fermented for 3-4 days and the spices added are excellent for boosting digestion. The bacterial fermentation produces both pro and pre biotics, making it a symbiotic. This means it is a functional food, providing more than just nourishment for our body.
4. Handia: Is a popular rice fermented drink of Odhisa. 20 plant species are used to make the ranu or bakkar tablets that act as starters. It has low alcoholic content but was found to have antimicrobial properties and is a nourishing hydrating drink.
5. Chyang/Chee - made from finger millet, is popular in NE India, Bhutan and Nepal. Finger millet is a rich source of antioxidants and fermentation adds probiotic bacteria.
From across various cultures and countries, the more popular ones include:
6. Root beer is made with fermented sassafras bark or sarsaparilla. It can be both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. It has the nutritional goodness of the ingredients and is an antioxidant boost.
7. Kefir is another fermented dairy drink from Russia. Its tangy and refreshing flavour can be enhanced with fruits. Nutritionally wholesome and a probiotic tonic to boot.
8. Probiotic lemonade is your simple lemonade made with lemon juice, you just need to add some whey, and voila, you get a nourishing refreshing summer drink for boosting the immunity.
9. Rejuvelac made with wheat berries, is rich in B vitamins and also has a good amount of Vitamin E & K. Known for its antibacterial properties, this fermented drink is very gut-friendly
10. Tepache is a pineapple fermented drink from Mexico. Rich in Vitamin C and antioxidants, this non-alcoholic summer refresher is a must-try.
11. Boza is a Turkish fermented drink made with grains like barley, maize or wheat. Its ingredients ensure a good amount of Vitamins like A, C, B1 and B2.
12. Kombucha is a fermented tea drink made with live bacteria and yeast called 'Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast'. It provides all the health benefits of black tea along with probiotic bacteria. It can be flavoured to your taste.
13. Jun tea is made with green tea as compared to Kombucha which uses black tea mostly. Fermented, this adds all the goodness of green tea to your drink.
Most of these drinks are easy to make at home and their recipes are freely available. Replace the sugary beverages with a traditional drink this season.
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About Rupali DattaRupali Datta is a Clinical Nutritionist and has worked in leading corporate hospitals. She has created and lead teams of professionals to deliver clinical solutions for patients across all medical specialties including critical care. She is a member of the Indian Dietetic Association and Indian Association of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition.