Probiotics or Fermented Foods (which is better?!)
Whenever I share the crazy fact that we as humans carry around 3 lbs worth of microbes in and on our bodies I often get an alarmed/disgusted look right back. I get that, thinking of all of those bacteria, viruses, fungi and yeasts in your body may seem weird and gross, but they are actually vital to our life!
Unfortunately this amazing colony can become imbalanced and we can see it with obvious digestive symptoms like excess gas, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation (or both!). Even heartburn can be a sign of pathogenic bacteria overgrowth in the stomach.
But then there are the not so obvious signs like; autoimmune disorders, painful PMS, poor sleep, skin issues (eczema, psoriasis, acne, etc), brain fog and so much more! This microbiome is sooo essential to our health!
Now that I got my ‘why you should love gut bugs’ speech off my chest, let’s talk about ways to keep it healthy, happy and balanced.
Besides an optimal whole foods based diet, microbes need to be constantly introduced to our digestive tract through our environment (playing in dirt :-)) and the food we eat. This is where I get into the probiotics vs fermented foods debate.
Probiotics and fermented foods are how we get a consistent (ideally daily) dose of microbes. This is essential for keeping us healthy as well as healing an imbalanced microbiome and inflamed gut.
These are supplements usually found in capsule or powdered form and in varying potency that contain health promoting bacteria.
Probiotics are an incredible way to get some serious microbes into your belly! During times of obvious imbalance I will often recommend them to my lovely clients alongside a gut healing diet. However, I have seen people heal their gut without probiotic supplements using fermented foods but I have never seen anyone heal with just probiotic supplements.
Probiotic supplements are meant to supplement not to be our primary medicine.
There is a lot we know about the gut microbiome, but there is sooooo much we don’t know yet. The gut often has 500 – 1000 different strains and even some of the best supplements out there will have max 14.
To make sure you are taking your probiotic correctly check out this blog.
I firmly believe that nature and the wisdom of our body is far smarter than we or any laboratory are ever going to be. So I love trusting that fully, giving our body as much healing nourishment as we can and letting it do what it needs to do.
Our ancient ancestors did not have their daily probiotic supplements to pop. They ate loads of sauerkraut, yogurt, olives, fermented shark, kombucha, kimchi, etc! Every culture around the world has their version of fermented foods.
We don’t even really know how many probiotic strains there are in most fermented foods and how much. This can even differ from batch to batch, how long it was left to ferment and even where it was made.
It also appears that microbes from fermented foods are more likely to survive the journey down the digestive tract into the colon than the supplements.
So I like to use probiotic supplements therapeutically at specific times in a gut healing protocol to restore balance while at the same time introducing a variety of fermented foods.
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