It’s a good thing that we’re starting to acknowledge the importance of probiotics and adding it to our diet. Which explains the rise of probiotic supplements that rivals fermented foods. We’ll be discussing today the benefits of fermented foods versus probiotic supplements.
Starting with fermented foods, here is a list of plus points that you should consider.
Fermented Foods Benefit: Help you pre-digest your food.
Bacteria and yeast activity in food actually make said food easier for us to digest.
This is because the bacteria and yeast directly consume food components and release their broken down metabolites, even before it enters your mouth.
This in general is beneficial to our digestion. Protein can be partially pre-digested by fermentation, aiding in its absorption. And fats can be broken down into non-esterified fatty acids, which improves digestibility.
And it also may be particularly helpful to people that have difficulty digesting certain food compounds, for example lactose and oligosaccharides. This is why lactose-intolerant individuals can often tolerate fermented foods that supposedly contain lactose, because most of the lactose is already in its broken down form.
This pre-digestion feature can play a very important part when our own digestive functions are lacking. For example, as in infancy, where digestion is still developing, or when it’s compromised due to aging, stress, and illness.
A deficiency in digestive function can cause a vicious cycle whereby nutrient absorption is reduced due to lack of ability to break down food components, which leads to impairing the body’s ability to produce more digestive enzymes to repair damaged tissue.
If your body can’t break down food into components necessary for building more tissue, healing and regeneration slows down.
And this will cause health to deteriorate. This is why we cannot overlook the importance of the digestion process. And how fermented foods help with it.
Fermented Foods Benefit: More Nutritious & Fewer Anti-Nutrients
Fermented foods are nutritionally denser compared to their unfermented forms. Not just that, those nutrients become more bioavailable (easier to absorb) with fermentation because of the reduced anti-nutrient levels (Doctor Kara Fitzgerald)
For example, in kefir, which is fermented milk, the fermentation process produces plenty of additional vitamins including B1, B2, B6, B12, folate and biotin that are essential for many metabolic functions, including cellular energy pathways and methylation. These nutrients were not readily accessible in its original milk form.
On the other hand, we see fermentation reducing anti-nutrients such as phytic acid by up to 40%. Phytic acid is a compound found in many grains, legumes, and seeds. It binds essential minerals, such as iron, hence reducing their availability for absorption. Sourdough bread baking makes use of this fermentation to break down phytic acid and increase the bioavailability of minerals.
Fermented Foods Benefit: Reduced harmful bacteria
Strangely, adding friendly bacteria and yeast to food limits the growth of harmful bacteria in those same foods. This is due to competition for available nutrients.
This also explains why fermentation was originally the traditional way to preserve foods from spoilage before refrigeration was invented.
Fermented Foods Benefit: Contain higher diversity of bacterial strains
Probiotic foods contain a wide diversity of microorganisms and higher CFU. CFU stands for Colony Forming Units. What this means is the number of alive and active microorganisms in one serving of a probiotic dietary supplement.
Most probiotic supplements contain 1 to 10 billion CFU per dose but fermented foods typically contain anywhere from 1 to 50 billion CFU, with milk kefir taking the cake at 600 billion CFU.
And now, here are the boons of probiotic supplements.
Probiotic Supplements Benefit: Enable you to be more targeted
You can have more control over the specific bacterial strains you ingest which can be helpful when addressing a particular health issue (Nordic Naturals).
Probiotic Supplements Benefit: Convenience
It’s admittedly easier to have dry pills that you can pop any time and any place without having to have much thought of storing issues if you’d like to take your probiotics along with you throughout the day.
Probiotic Supplements Benefit: Allergen-free and sweetener-free
If you’re intolerant to common allergens like dairy, soy, wheat, gluten, then probiotic supplements might work better for you.
Also, with supplements, you can avoid added sugar and sweeteners that might exist in certain probiotic foods such as yogurt, kefir, and kombucha.
I hope you found this article informative! Feel free to leave a comment or question.
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