““Many fermented foods are made with the help of bacteria, so it is tempting to believe that they all contain probiotics.” Ali Webster, PhD, RD, dDirector of Research, Research and Nutrition in the IFIC. “But this is not the case: For a food to be considered a source of probiotics, there must be enough live bacteria that survive food processing, which is not always the case with fermented foods. In addition, every bacterium that survives food processing must be known to benefit human health. “
Just because not all fermented foods have probiotics, does not mean that you should delete the entire category from the list of healthy intestinal foods. The opposite in fact. Instead, you just need to know which ones contain probiotics and which ones do not contain probiotics or are otherwise good for your gut, something that Dr. Webster helps to analyze below.
The difference between fermented and probiotic foods
“One of the most common misconceptions I come across is the belief that fermented foods and probiotics are one and the same thing,” says Dr. Webster. Fermented foods are produced through a process that uses yeast and live bacteria to break down a food, such as cabbage, for example, and convert it into another, such as sauerkraut or kimchi. Meanwhile, probiotics is yeast and bacteria used to ferment food. There are also natural ones in your body, but sometimes the balance between good and bad bacteria in your gut can be upset by what you eat or drink, as well as your lifestyle – lack of sleep is such a culprit.
So, to support their microbiome (the collection of bacteria and organisms that live in your gastrointestinal tract), people can turn to probiotic foods and supplements to try to get their gut flora back into balance. “Probiotics have the potential to have a positive effect on health, and different mechanisms for doing so are an active area of research,” says Dr. Webster. The link, however, is still unclear and adds to the confusion between probiotics and fermented foods.
“We know probiotics are good for gut health, so many people think that fermented foods would also be beneficial; however, there is not enough research to support this claim,” said Natasha Bhuyan, MD. , a doctor at OneMedical, in the past. said Well + Good. In addition, science is not entirely certain Why Fermented foods are good for gut health. It may be their probiotics, but it may not be. ““Some precursors to fermented foods, such as cabbage and other vegetables, are high in fiber and act as prebiotics,” says Dr. Webster. “Fiber serves as food for the beneficial bacteria in our gut and results in the production of short-chain fatty acids that feed the cells that line the gut and maintain gut health.”
Above and beyond probiotic activity, however, fermented foods offer a wealth of benefits, according to Dr. Webster. “Yogurt and kefir are rich in protein and calcium,” he says, adding that fermented foods are also full of many vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. “They offer unique flavors to our meals and in many cases are a large part of the cultural aspects of food and nutritional traditions,” adds Dr. Webster. Much more reason to keep them in your diet.
Foods fermented with probiotics
Some fermented foods have been shown to have probiotic abilities and have been linked to reduced inflammation and improved gut health, according to Dr. Webster. “Dairy products such as kefir and yogurt are among the best vehicles for transporting beneficial bacteria into our gastrointestinal tract,” he says. “Unheated kimchi, sauerkraut and miso also contain large numbers of viable bacteria that can provide probiotic boost. However, many varieties of these products that are on the shelves of grocery stores have been heat treated for food safety reasons, so it is not so common to come across options with known probiotic action.
Fermented foods that do not contain probiotics
As you know now, nAll fermented foods contain living organisms. “The germs needed to make beer and wine are filtered into the final product,” says Dr. Webster. “Yeast breads and canned sauerkraut, other fermented vegetables and many puddings are heat-treated, which inactivates microorganisms. Thus, although these products may taste good and offer some nutritional benefits, they are not powerful sources of probiotics.
Best practices for the consumption of probiotic products (fermented or otherwise)
There is no recommended daily allowance for probiotics, says Dr. Webster. “What we do know is that in order to reap the benefits of probiotic products, they must be consumed with some degree of regularity. “A cup of yogurt from time to time or a few tablespoons of kimchi with your food will probably not have a major impact on gut health, even if they offer other health and nutritional benefits.”
The best way to reap the benefits of probiotic products, then, is to eat them regularly. “Μ“Maintaining a constant presence of probiotic germs requires repeated intake of them — making yogurt part of your daily diet, for example,” recommends Dr. Webster.
But even then, there is no guarantee that it will do much for your gut. “At this point, it is not clear whether food probiotics can really take root in an already microbial landscape,” says Dr. Webster. “Think about it: If millions of gut bacteria have already claimed all the available property, it is very difficult for young people to find their own piece of land.”
That said, diet is just one way to improve and support your gastrointestinal tract. Staying hydrated, minimizing stress and moving your body are other healthy bowel habits you will want to adopt.
Oh Hello! You look like someone who loves free workouts, discounts on modern wellness brands and exclusive Well + Good content. Join Well +, our online wellness community and unlock your rewards right away.