Visit any local health food store, and you're bound to find a row of probiotic pills and powders on the shelf. Probiotic supplements, which provide beneficial bacteria, are becoming quite popular as various brands are starting to offer them.
But is there something that might be even better? You see, your body is more than capable of producing and sustaining its own healthy gut flora. So the question is…how can you fuel your body’s own probiotic factory, making you less dependent on high dosage synthetically-produced probiotic supplements? To find out more, read on……
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How Fermented Foods Improve Digestion and Health
Not all bacteria are bad. A healthy human body contains trillions of bacterial cells, most of which are beneficial for health. About 500 different species of bacteria live in a healthy digestive tract. These bacteria help digest your food and absorb vitamins and minerals. In fact, there are certain nutrients, like vitamin B12, that your body may have issues absorbing and utilizing without the help of gut bacteria! They also help influence the body’s pH and some of these bacteria produce substances that reduce inflammation in the gut. Others help fight off dangerous, infectious bacteria, protecting us from outside intruders and improving the immune system.
A lack of healthy gut bacteria has been linked to numerous digestive ailments, from Crohn's disease to IBS. Even systemic diseases like rheumatoid arthritis have been linked to bacterial imbalances. And it doesn’t take much for an imbalance in gut bacteria to occur. All you have to do is take antibiotics, go through a period of stress, or suffer a bout of foodborne illness. Each experience builds and builds — until eventually, your gut bacteria are completely out of balance and you start experiencing digestive and health problems.
Diets rich in fermented foods introduce more beneficial bacteria to your gut, and they also support the health of your existing gut bacteria. If you eat plenty of fermented foods, your digestive system won't be thrown for a loop every time you take medication or go through a stressful experience. Not only that, but you're better able to absorb nutrients from food, leading to improved immunity. You may feel more energized, get sick less often, and experience more stable moods.
Fermented Foods: A History
Fermented foods are those that have been partially broken down by bacteria, yeasts, and other microorganisms. And while fermentation seems to be experiencing a resurgence lately, it is nothing new. People have been fermenting foods for centuries which have become staple dishes in many different cultures around the world. Koreans enjoy a fermented cabbage dish known as kimchi. The Japanese love fermented veggies and a fermented sweet tea called kombucha. In the Middle East, fermented dairy products like kefir, laban, and yogurt are popular. Because fermented foods are so prevalent in these cultures, people experience healthy digestion, excellent immune function, and easier weight maintenance.
Digestion... and the Standard American Diet
The Standard American Diet, by comparison, is lacking in fermented foods. Perhaps because Americans have been taught to fear bacteria, many are apprehensive to try fermented foods like kefir, kimchi, and miso. And our digestive systems show it! Digestive ailments from GERD, to diverticulitis, to hemorrhoids plague Americans, and a lack of beneficial, probiotic bacteria in the diet is — at least in part — to blame.
Other aspects of the Standard American Diet don't help either. The processed, low-fiber foods that are so prevalent in our diet slow down digestion and make it harder for your gut to push food through. Also, certain fibers called prebiotic fiber are food for good bacteria. Without this in our diet, the bacteria can’t flourish. Other instances like frequent antibiotic use further compromises your gut bacteria. Plus, many of the medications used to manage conditions like Crohn's Disease and constipation may actually make matters worse by killing off healthy gut bacteria! Talk about an endless cycle...
Probiotic Supplements vs. Fermented Foods
At first glance, taking a probiotic supplement seems like a smart way to support your gut bacteria. However, probiotic supplements pale in comparison to true fermented foods and fermented food supplements. Probiotic supplements are usually created in a lab from a broth or mother culture, where bacteria strains are isolated and collected separately in order to be used. This means there are only certain strains of bacteria contained in probiotic capsules — nowhere close to the 500 or so living in a healthy gut! Some strains may even die out when the probiotic capsule is in storage.
Fermented foods, by comparison, contain a whole array of bacterial strains that work together for an enhanced effect – letting those 500 different bacteria thrive. They also contain synergistic nutrients that help feed the bacteria and further promote a healthy gut. Not all fermented foods are the same, either. Pickles fermented in vinegar, for instance, do not contain the same bacteria or nutrients as plant proteins fermented with the addition of yeast. It's important to consume a wide array of fermented foods for maximum benefit.
PlantFusion Fermented Superfood Protein
Does incorporating fermented foods into your diet seem overwhelming? We thought so. That's one reason why PlantFusion created our Fermented Superfood Protein. This product combines the powers of plant proteins and fermented foods for a range of benefits, from increased lean muscle mass to better digestion.
We've become experts in the field of zymology (the study of fermentation), carefully overseeing our processes to ensure the integrity of our cultures. Unlike probiotics, which only provide a few strains of bacteria, our fermented product provides an array of beneficial bacteria, enzymes, and nutrients. We include a mixture of fermented grains and fermented pseudograins, including organic millet, lentils, and flax seeds, for a healthy combination of nutrients. The addition of our proprietary enzyme blend ensures all traces of starch are broken down, making the product easier on sensitive stomachs. Use PlantFusion Fermented Superfood Protein in your morning smoothie to jump-start your digestion, or enjoy it as a post-workout snack to build muscle and counteract the stress-related effects of your workout.
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