Gut Health is massively important to our overall mental, emotional and physical health.
We know that probiotics have a considerable effect on our gut health. Obviously fermented foods like sauerkraut contain probiotics, but it's hard to eat sauerkraut and other fermented foods when you're on the run. Is it just as good, or even better for your gut health to pop some probiotic capsules throughout the day?
We have touched on this matter in a previous, longer article, in this article we'll focus on the specific question: Sauerkraut or Probiotic Capsules more beneficial for gut health?
We believe that sauerkraut is significantly more beneficial that probiotic capsules, here are some reasons why:
1. Sauerkraut Probiotics are Acid Resistant
This is a really important point. Sauerkraut is made through the process of natural fermentation where lactic acid bacteria and other strains of bacteria that thrive in an acidic environment dominate the fermentation. Anything that's fermented is acidic, acid is a by-product of fermentation. This means that, by their very nature, the probiotics found in naturally fermented Sauerkraut (and other fermented veggies) are acid resistant. Why is this important? Because, before reaching your intestines, any probiotics you consume must pass through the seething pool of acid that is your stomach. Lab-grown probiotics that are placed in capsules are often not resistant to acid. What happens when they hit your Stomach?
2. Sauerkraut has Greater Diversity of Microorganisms
Sauerkraut, when wildly fermented, contains a broad spectrum of probiotic strains that actually vary depending on the seasonal and the vegetables used to ferment. Long fermentation is also important as various groups of probiotics dominate the fermentation as the sauerkraut acidity varies. Compare this to Probiotic capsules which contain a limited number of strains that don't vary.
3. Sauerkraut Probiotics are Still Alive
A raw, unpasteurised sauerkraut (or other fermented vegetable) will still continue fermenting and generating more probiotics for years, even at room temperature. You can test this out by leaving your jar of sauerkraut or kimchi at room temperature for a week or two and see what happens when you open it. Oftentimes the jar will be super fizzy due to the carbon dioxide produced as a by-product of fermentation. There's quite a bit of research being done on probiotic capsules lately, it shows that capsules often don't contain the variety of strains claimed or the number of probiotics claimed on the label...and that's when they're stored according to manufacturer recommendations. Keep your sauerkraut at room temperature for years and get more probiotics. Keep your probiotic capsules at room temperature for years and get dead bacteria.
4. Sauerkraut also Contains Prebiotics and Postbiotics
Not only does Sauerkraut contains probiotics, It also contains prebiotics (to feed the probiotics) and postbiotics (the beneficial by-products of probiotic production. Probiotic capsules don't have prebiotics or postbiotics, although you can. buy separate postbiotic tablets and prebiotic powders. Better to get the natural 3-in-1 benefit of fermented vegetables.
5. Extra Nutrients in Sauerkraut
Sauerkraut is a whole food, and it contains not only prebiotics, probiotics and postbiotics but also essential nutrients like vitamins C and K, amino acids as well as fibre. Interestingly vitamins c, k and amino acids are examples of postbiotics (the by-product of fermentation). Probiotic capsules, on the other hand, are isolated supplements and don't contain any additional nutritional benefits.
6. Sauerkraut is Sustainable and Cost-Effective
Making sauerkraut at home or buying it in stores is often more cost-effective and environmentally friendly compared to buying probiotic capsules, which can be costly and come in single-use plastic packaging, especially if you're buying prebiotic, postbiotic and probiotic supplements. There's no need to employ someone in a white lab coat growing bacteria in dishes of agar. Grow some cabbage in your garden, ferment it in an oak barrel or a glass jar...let it sit for 3-4 weeks. Eat it. Simple.
7. The Natural Synchronisation of Sauerkraut
Vegetables have been fermented for thousands of years. You eat sauerkraut and the probiotics are in sync with your body's natural processes. In every spoonful of sauerkraut you're getting the acid-resistant-probiotics along with the prebiotics (to feed the probiotics) along with the postbiotics (which include vitamin c and k and amino acids ). The sauerkraut continues fermenting in your gut, to some degree as the fibres are slowly broken down. This is a natural process. How natural are probiotic capsules for our body?
It's important to note that the effectiveness of sauerkraut for gut health can vary depending on the quality of the sauerkraut, the fermentation process, and the ingredients used. Here are a few tips:
- Make sure your sauerkraut has been fermented for more than just a few days (ideally weeks) to ensure maximum probiotic benefit.
- Sauerkraut is best fermented in oak barrels or glass, we don't want phthalates from plastic.
- Certified organic is best as chemicals affect probiotic production.
- Make sure your sauerkraut is NOT heated, we don't want the probiotics killed with heat.
Too busy to make your own?
Try Gutsy Sauerkraut, we only make the stuff that we want to eat ourselves.