Posted by Kim on 2021 Mar 29th
The process of fermenting vegetables can't happen without the existence of helpful bacteria. These bacteria are the same microorganisms that we need to keep our gut happy and healthy.
Fermented vegetables are considered an excellent source of probiotics. Scientific studies focusing on kimchi, sauerkraut or yogurt have found that they contain billions of beneficial microbes in every serving. (Which by definition makes them probiotic).
During the fermentation process, the good bacteria undergo changes that make them ready and willing to handle digestion. From there, it’s smooth sailing for these microorganisms. They join the rest of our gut microbiome and get to work keeping our gastrointestinal tract on track.
Consumers beware though. Not all fermented foods contain probiotics. Drinks like beer and wine remove probiotics (darn) and heat involved in baking and canning make probiotics inactive. To ensure you get the most good bacteria possible, choose raw veggie or dairy options. Your best bets are kimchi, sauerkraut, and yogurt.
TIP: If you are buying premade, check the label to make sure that it contains live microbes. Some makers pasteurize their product to increase shelf stability.
If you simply must have your fermented food in liquid form, water kefir or kombucha is your go to. While not enough scientific evidence exists to say it consistently offers probiotics, kombucha does come with other beneficial acids as part of its repertoire.
As for other foods like hot sauce, dill carrots, and kkakdugi, the scientific jury is still out due to lack of evidence. We can presume that these other fermented foods contain enough bacteria to pack a probiotic healthy punch but no studies focused on these foods are yet on the books. In the meantime, you’ll sleep well knowing eating fermented foods offer beneficial enzymes, B vitamins, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids. And likely billions of beneficial microbes.
While there are no guidelines on the amount of fermented food to add to one’s diet, there is a consensus that one should eat fermented foods as often as possible. Find a few fermented dishes that you love and have a little bit every day. Your gut, and your taste buds, will thank you.