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|Click play below to hear our lively interview with author Sandor Katz on fermentation.|
|Listen to other shows on this topic.|
A question I get a lot is, “Are taking acidophilus pills just as good as eating fermented foods?” The answer will depend on who you ask. In my opinion the answer is always going to be no, the whole food is much better, more natural and healthier for you than the isolated supplements.
Most of the good companies will have strains like Lacto bacillus Acidophilus,Lactobacillus gasseri, Bifidobacterium bifidum and Bifidobacterium longum and might contain 1.5 billion cells per pill.
Does this mean I don’t take the supplements? I take them all the time. But I also do a fair bit of fermenting. Recently I’ve been very much involved in making lots of cultured vegetables along with mostly sauerkraut. I’ve been making milk kefir, coconut water kefir and water kefir along with my own kombucha brews.
Pills are great for taking with you to work, dinners out or when you’re traveling. I highly recommend them. But they don’t compare to the whole food.
Fermented foods have become a huge part of my diet. They are such a powerful and amazing healing food and can be added into your diet no matter what you eat. What I love most about fermented foods is the tart sour taste but they are high in anti cancer nutrients as well as they have a high level of beneficial bacteria which become our immune systems.
Here are 4 reasons why I prefer taking sauerkraut, kefir or kombucha instead of pills or supplements which can really burn a hole in your pocket. Plus, nobody likes holes in their pockets.
When I make my sauerkraut, I usually use the “wild fermentation” technique that’s talked about by Sandor Kats in his book called, Wild Fermentation. Basically what this means is that you don’t use any bacterial starter. Many times people will open a capsule of an acidophilus/bifidus and poor it onto the kraut when they’re putting it all together.
This allows those specific bacteria to dominate the culture. When doing wild fermentation, you are allowing the bacteria that live in your kitchen and in your environment to dominate your culture. You get more strains this way and you get more of the bacteria that you’re exposed to on a daily basis in your personal surroundings.
Wild fermentation might be less preferred for a newborn baby depending on many factors. Make sure to do your homework on that one. I prefer wild fermentation because it’s more natural to my own living environments and you get exposed to many more strains of bacteria.
When you get a pill, you’re only getting the 5 or 6 strains that have been isolated and created in a laboratory not living in your personal environment.
Prebiotics – Probiotics – Symbiotics
Most people go to the health food store and buy probiotics. But they’re really getting a beat up isolated food. Think of a bottle of probiotics like drinking a 2 day old glass of carrot juice. Although I love fresh vegetable juice, it is an isolated food. It’s missing the fiber and other nutrients that are in the pulp.
A prebiotic is the actual “food” that the probiotic feeds on. Without a prebiotic, there would be no probiotic. An example of a prebiotic would be the cabbage when you eat sauerkraut. A pickle would be another example of a prebiotic. The probiotic are the actual beneficial flora or bacteria that feed on the prebiotic.
The prebiotic and the probiotic form a symbiotic. This is the prebiotic (sauerkraut, or pickle) along with the probiotic (beneficial bacteria). This is a whole food. The probiotic needs to have the prebiotic. When you separate them apart, you’re isolating them. Isolated substances are never as good as the original whole food.
When you buy pills, not only are you getting very tightly controlled and limited amounts of the strains of bacteria, but you’re missing the prebiotic which is very important for your health.
Lack Of Control Of The Prebiotic
A good question to ask a supplement company is what sorts of prebiotics are they using? Are they using organic materials or materials that might have chemical residues on them like pesticides, herbicides or fungicides?
Because certain bacteria grow more depending on which prebiotic is used, you may be missing out on the health and strength of the probiotics.
When you buy pills you just don’t have any control over which prebiotics were used when making the bacteria.
When looking to buy acidophilus at the store most people look only for the count, that is the number of bacteria each pill contains. While this IS important, it’s equally important to know how many strains there are as well as how strong they are. How do you find out the strength of the bacteria? You need to know which prebiotics were used.
When you make your own cultured vegetables, you control everything that goes into your fermenting crock pot.
Centrifuging & Laboratories
When manufacturers make their probiotics in the labratory, they usually isolate the prebiotic from the probiotic in large containers by using centrifugal action. Basically by spinning them at very high speeds.
The probiotics are very delicate and beating them up by isolating them using high speed centrifugal spinning really weakens them to a large degree. It’s like taking a new born baby from its mother and putting it into a very stressful envoronment.
When you buy pills you weaken the strain by isolation, you limit your strain by not using wild fermentation local to your home, you have no control of what prebiotic they use and generally get a much weaker product as a result.
That being said, if you buy a high quality probiotic you can still benefit from them.
I use them mainly when I travel or run out of sauerkraut, kombucha, yogurt or kefir at home. I don’t rely on them as my only source of getting beneficial bacteria into my body.
They’re called supplements for a reason. 🙂
If you haven’t learned how to make sauerkraut, you should learn. It’s easy and fun.
My Question To You:
What types of cultured vegetables are your favorite these days?
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