Fermented foods: Are They Good Sources of Probiotics?
Dietary supplements and fermented foods are two effective ways to add good bacteria into your gut. Probiotic supplements sold over-the-counter are used only during specific medical conditions. Natural sources of probiotics are fermented foods, but are they really good sources of good bacteria? How many of them do you need to eat?
It’s quite impossible to know exactly which fermented foods to consume or in what quantities. So, the general guideline is to consume them as frequently as possible. Let’s learn more about fermented foods.
Why fermented foods?
The health benefits of fermented foods are numerous. Probiotics are probably one of the most well-known. They are abundant in fermented foods. The CFU counts in fermented foods are very high, and there can be as many as five different healthy bacterial strains in them. A few spoons of sauerkrauts can have several million to billions of CFU.
Fermentation is one of the oldest techniques for food preservation. It occurs when yeast and bacteria break down sugars. This process not only preserves foods, but chemical reactions occur that can produce food that is richer in nutrients. For instance, natto is a type of traditional Japanese fermented soybean. A recent study revealed that natto contains three times as many vitamins B1 and B2 and five times as much B12 as the original soybean.
During the fermentation process, many fermented foods receive a similar nutritional boost due to their chemical modifications. They help digest foods faster by breaking down fats or proteins that are more difficult to digest. This allows people with IBS and digestive problems to consume them.
Fermentation also increases the number of beneficial bacteria. However, not all fermented foods contain probiotics. Beers and wines, for example, the probiotics are removed because of various processes. Canning and baking, on the other hand, the probiotics are inactive.
How should you choose fermented foods?
Although fermented foods can supply your body’s probiotic needs, it isn’t always that simple. You have to know what to look for when purchasing one, as many of them are thought to be fermented, but they’re just pickled or pasteurized. Also, many store-bought fermented foods have added preservatives, sugar or dyes that can affect nutritional value and limit the number of healthy bacteria.
Why taking probiotic supplements is better?
Probiotic supplements help you achieve a more targeted result compare with fermented foods. Each strain of probiotic bacteria performs different functions, which is very important when you are dealing with digestive problems or other health issues.
When you buy probiotic supplements, you know what you get. You know what strains it contains and the total amount of the beneficial bacteria. They are also free from allergens, additives, and sugar. To be effective, probiotic bacteria need to be alive when you ingest them, but for fermented foods and drinks, the bacteria may not be alive by the time you consume them. Probiotics need to survive the acidic environment of the stomach that’s why probiotic supplements are coated, or freeze-dried and enclosed in a capsule.