Supplements or fermented foods. Which is the better probiotic source?

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Supplements or fermented foods. Which is the better probiotic source?

a woman eating yogurt

Is consuming supplements or fermented foods the preferred way to consume probiotics? It’s an important question as the importance of getting the right balance of probiotics has become a key health goal.

Gut health has become the dominant wellness topic in recent years. Thousands of blogs and magazines articles have echoed the most recent scientific discoveries about the vital influence our gut microbiome has on our health. They cover scientific discoveries about the gut, its function and its surprising effect on the whole of our physical wellbeing, not just our digestion. 

Much research is now being carried out on the gut-brain axis. How our gut microbes can affect our mental health. While research is still in its infancy, there is enormous potential in using gut bacteria in the treatment of mental health. 

As gastroenterologist and best-selling science author Giulia Enders said in her breakthrough book Gut: the inside story of our body’s most underrated organ:

“Could we perhaps use the gut to prevent depression before it occurs? Are bacteria better suited as a complementary treatment, to be used alongside medication, therapy and lifestyle changes?” 

The changing of the makeup of our gut microbiome remains an under-explored territory, but science has weighed in with several crucial studies in recent years. These prove the benefits of consuming probiotics, showing how adding more to our diet can affect aspects of our physical and mental wellbeing.

As Prof. Robert Hutgens of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln says in this article.

“The scientific community is all over the diet/gut microbiota/human health connection. Fermented foods contribute a diverse array of microorganisms to the existing gut microbiota and thus have the potential to affect health.”

Supplements or fermented foods?

There are trillions of microbes living in our gut. Bacteria that can be both good and bad for our health. This balance is largely governed by our environment and what we eat and drink. For example, a diet high in processed food will promote the growth of those gut bacteria that can cause poor health. Conversely, a healthy balanced diet high in fibre will help promote the good bugs.

Consuming probiotics directly is becoming popular as people look to boost the balance of their gut microbiota in favour of the helpful microbes. But where should we get our probiotics? What’s the better source: supplements or fermented foods? While getting the right probiotics through supplements such as capsules can be an acceptable alternative, there are several reasons why fermented foods are the better option. 

Fermented foods have a range of good bacteria strains

Sesame Snaps | Ferments For Every Gut | Gutsy Ferments

Sesame snaps

Probiotic supplements, such as those found in a capsule, are usually limited in the range of bacteria they contain. Those selected are only those known to do a specific health task. However, the microorganisms contained on fermented foods, such as sauerkraut or kimchi, contain a multitude of good bacteria varieties. This helps to restore the balance of “good bugs” in our gut.

Are the probiotic microorganisms alive?

Sourdough workshop starter

The bacteria must be alive when they reach our gut. But the manufacturing and storage process for the capsule supplements may be too much for the microorganisms. Not to mention navigating the body’s digestive juices! If so, taking such a supplement is an expensive waste of time. 

Any heat treatment will destroy the bacteria before they reach the gut to do their good work. This also may be the case for fermented foods. Many sauerkraut and kimchi products on the market have been pasteurised. This has the effect of destroying all microorganisms in the product. 

It’s imperative then to buy quality fermented products. Our range of kimchi and sauerkraut, for example, is raw and fermented for 3 to 5 weeks in oak barrels. We take great pride in crafting our fermented foods to ensure you get the maximum gut health benefit.

Nutrients from the vegetable

Ferments For Every Gut | Gutsy FermentsEating fermented food also has the advantage of consuming the nutrients in the vegetables. The cabbage used in sauerkraut and kimchi contains a wealth of nutrients. This in addition to the probiotics from the fermentation process. Cabbage is also a great source of fibre and has high levels of Vitamin C — a powerful antioxidant linked to better heart health.

We believe that the old ways are best. That sourcing your probiotics from healthy, quality, raw fermented foods is superior to capsule supplements. However, it’s a myth that any probiotic diet or supplement will replace medications or treatments for illnesses. Always consult your health expert on your health. While it makes sense to do all you can to maintain your immune system, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 virus, a probiotic-rich diet will not amount to protection from this disease.

However, a probiotic-rich diet, along with a balanced and healthy diet, will go a long way to maintaining your immune system and promoting good health and wellbeing.