Fermented foods have been a staple in many cultures for centuries, with the benefits of consuming them becoming increasingly popular in recent years.
The process of fermentation involves the breakdown of sugars and carbohydrates in food by bacteria and yeast, leading to the production of probiotics, enzymes, and other beneficial compounds.
Probiotics, on the other hand, are living microorganisms that are similar to those found in the human gut, and are often consumed in the form of supplements or pills.
While both fermented foods and probiotic pills can provide benefits to the gut, there is ongoing debate about which is better.
In this article, we will explore the benefits of fermented foods and probiotic pills, and examine whether one is truly superior to the other when it comes to improving gut health.
What Are Fermented Foods?
Fermented foods are foods that have undergone a process called fermentation, which is basically a natural chemical reaction that happens when microorganisms like bacteria or yeast break down the sugars and carbohydrates in food, producing compounds like lactic acid, alcohol, and acetic acid.
This process not only changes the flavor and texture of the food, but also makes it more nutritious and easier to digest.
Examples of fermented foods include things like yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, kefir, kombucha, and sourdough bread.
These foods are often tangy, sour, or even slightly alcoholic in flavor, and can be enjoyed on their own or as ingredients in other dishes.
Fermented foods and drinks derived from animals and plants play an important role in our diets. These foods usually contain lactic acid bacteria (LAB), which is grown during fermentation.
These naturally contain compounds, including organic acids, ethanol, or antimicrobial compounds with the ability to inhibit spoilage organisms and pathogenic bacteria in fermented foods.
Furthermore, these bacteria, commonly known as probiotics, play a role in human as well as animal health, especially in the digestive tract.
Studies have shown that fermented foods containing probiotics can replace antibiotics in overcoming pathogenic bacteria, and have the ability to improve the immune system and strengthen the body against pathogenic bacteria.
Fermentation is known as one of the oldest food preservation methods in the world, and is also a food processing technique to reduce or even eliminate toxic compounds present.
This process is aimed at extending the shelf life of fruits, vegetables, meat, and fish, and also serves the main roles of food preservation.
ROLE OF MICROORGANISMS AS PROBIOTICS
The term “probiotics” refers to microorganisms providing benefits to humans as well as animals, with an important role in keeping intestinal microbe balanced.
These microorganisms often come from the genus Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium but also come from the genus Bacillus, Pediococcus as well as some yeasts.
The genus Lactobacillus is the most widely used bacteria in food and feed fermentation, in addition to being widely used in the manufacture of probiotics.
In addition, this strain is also utilized in improving the health of the human body both directly and indirectly, including:
- Defense against the mucosa
- Repairing of micro flora
- Preventing infection
- Defense against food allergies
- Lowering blood cholesterol levels
- Modulating the mucosal immune system
- Enhancing the system digestion
- Maintaining the intestinal micro flora balance.
So Whats Better?
Pill VS Food
The main difference between fermented foods and probiotic pills lies in their composition of bacteria.
Probiotics are strands of healthy bacteria that play an important role in the overall health of your gut (also known as your “second brain”).
Regulating mood, boosting your immune system, decreasing inflammation, removing toxins, and assisting with both digestion and metabolism are some of the profound functions of probiotics.
Fermented foods contain a variety of beneficial compounds, including probiotics, enzymes, vitamins, and minerals, which can help to support a healthy gut microbiome.
In addition, fermented foods are far more potent than probiotic supplements.
2 ounces of sauerkraut has more probiotics than 100 capsules.
It was found that 4-6 ounces of fermented vegetables has around 10 trillion bacteria, compared to the average probiotic supplement that contains around 10 billion.
In general, the diversity of microorganisms present in fermented foods are far greater than those in supplements.
In terms of the cost, fermented foods are shockingly cheaper than supplements. A bottle of probiotic supplements lasts around 30 days and range anywhere from $35- $100, where-as you can turn your kitchen into a probiotic factory for pennies on the dollar with:
The Fermentation Method is the most complete fermentation step-by-step guide available online. You’ll learn how to make sourdough bread, sourdough pizza, tortillas, chips, cookies and cinnamon rolls! Additionally, you’ll receive bonus videos on how to make saurkraut, kimchi, pickles, sourdough bread, coconut yogurt, salsa and water kefir all from scratch!
Comparing the amount of bacteria present in each jar of fermented foods to the amount that’s in a bottle of probiotic supplements, you’re undoubtedly saving money.
Delivery of this healthy bacteria influences its effectiveness as well. For example, consuming foods with probiotics in them increases how many beneficial bacteria survive the acidic environment in your stomach.
Fermented foods contain beneficial enzymes that help you absorb nutrients more easily.
Scientists at the University of California have stated “the benefits of fermented foods are likely greater than the sum of their individual microbial, nutritive, or bioactive components.”
It’s easy to forget that when we supplement something, we’re often missing out on other valuable nutrients that are present in the whole food source.
In general, fermented foods have more “superfood benefits” than supplements and are better detoxifiers.
As if you need more reasons to stop taking probiotic pills, and start making your own probiotic rich foods in your own home, check this out.
I discovered that the probiotic supplement market is somewhat unregulated. The only probiotic supplements that are tested for safety and efficacy are ones specifically marketed for a medical condition.
If they aren’t, they undergo no testing. Thus, the bacteria count found on the bottles is also quite questionable.
Studies show that fermented foods are suitable probiotics for improving the digestive tract by maintaining the balance of gut micro biota.
In conclusion, while both fermented foods and probiotic pills can provide benefits to the gut, the evidence suggests that fermented foods are a better option for improving gut health.
Fermented foods are a whole food source of beneficial compounds, including probiotics, enzymes, vitamins, and minerals, which work together to support a healthy gut microbiome.
On the other hand, probiotic pills contain specific strains of live bacteria or yeasts that may not survive the harsh environment of the gut or provide the same diversity of beneficial compounds found in fermented foods.
Additionally, consuming fermented foods is a more natural and sustainable way to improve gut health, as they can be easily incorporated into a healthy and balanced diet. Therefore, when it comes to supporting a healthy gut, fermented foods should be the first choice over probiotic pills.