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Lactofermented foods vs. probiotics  RSS feed

 
N Thomas
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Hi,
I'd like to increase the amount & diversity of my gut flora. I've been eating & drinking a fair amount of fermented foods like Kvass, Coconut Kefir, Water Kefir, pickled Carrots, & ginger ale (nonalcoholic) to accomplish this. A doctor said fermented foods won't accomplish that because the acid in my stomach will kill off the good bacteria I'm trying to acquire. Does anyone have reason to believe the doctor is wrong? Am I better off trying to take probiotics in capsules to enhance my gut flora?
 
James Freyr
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Hey I'm in the same boat with you. I make water kefir and raw milk kefir. There is an element of truth to what your doctor said, but it does not kill 100% every last single microbe. If that were the case, then no one would get infected with salmonella, e. coli or norovirus. Small populations make it past the stomach acid barrier. Don't bother with probiotic capsules. The probiotics in them are derived from things like kefir anyway. Interestingly, just a short time ago I happened to hear a gastroenterologist on npr talk about probiotics and the gut micro biome. He gave a great analogy to the capsules. He likened it to a gentle breeze passing between two open windows on either side of a room. The capsules from the store don't "set up shop" in your gut and establish a self replicating population, they just make a brief visit. I do believe raw milk kefir does. I'm a testimonial to the wonders of raw milk kefir (RMK) fixing me up and making my gut right after two pints. It wasn't until a few months later I started making my own. Got a couple friends who've had the same experience. I generally don't talk about it cause I say the words "raw milk" and most my friends say "isn't that dangerous?!" or "that's gonna make you sick!". If I say kefir they say "what?". I just do what I choose and don't talk about it, unless a friend has irritable bowel syndrome, which is fancy western medicine talk for "chronic diarrhea and we don't know what's causing it", then I will offer them some kefir already made. 99% of the time they decline anyway because they're afraid of it, and I'll never mention it again to them. I've been making and drinking RMK daily for 3 years now, just started making water kefir last month.

Sounds like you have a more biodiverse gut than I do and most other people in general. If you feel a need for more biodiversity, maybe try making your own yogurt with heirloom cultures. And I highly recommend RMK. Save your money, don't bother with the capsules. Making your own ferments/cultures is the way to go.
 
John Saltveit
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I know of a medical guy who I like who says that the stomach acid kills off most of it.

However, fermented foods are both the species and the substrate.  Probiotics are only the species. You would also need prebiotics.

Most of the foods that I ferment are extremely healthy foods that I don't think taste very good until fermented or cooked, and fermenting preserves the enzymes.

Beets, amla, turmeric, cabbage, kale and broccoli stems, etc. 

They are really healthy vegetables and I like their taste when fermented, so I will eat them frequently.

JOhn S
PDX OR
 
Tobias Ber
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i thought that lactobazilla are quite acid resitant?
i mean, they produce acids, change the environment they live in. this acidic environment protects them by killing off other kinds of bacteria/nasties.

maybe one could do a ph test on finished ferments and compare that the the ph level of the stomach?
 
N Thomas
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Hi everyone,
Thanks for the replies. Please keep your responses coming!
 
Dawn Hoff
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The probiotic food contain far more bacteria than any pill - both in quantity and variety. The pills are also dissolved in the stomac - I believe that there is evidence that the capsules that aren't dissolved in the stomac are often not dissolved at all...

I follow Chris Kressers podcast and a few months agohe interviewed an MD who runs a lab that produce fecal transplants. He said the the most important factor in the quantity and variety of good bacteria in your micro-biome is not fermented foods (though they certainly are good), but the amount of different vegetables you eat in a day. He says that after he informed his donors - he could tell exactly who had followed his advice about trying more different veggies every week and who hadn't. The veggies carry the benificial bacteria and if you eat enough non-digestible starches they have something to grow on.
 
John Saltveit
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My medical guy agrees with what Dawn said.  Especially prebiotic vegies: celery, leeks, dandelions, jerusalem artichoke/sunchoke, jicama, chicory, etc.  Keep the varieties changing every few days.
John S
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Tobias Ber
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i checked two different ferments. ph is below 5 (and my test strips wont measure below 5).

wikipedia says that the liquids in the stomach have ph 2-4

vinegar has a ph of 3. so i would assume that ferments would have ph around 3,5 or lower.

and i think, the acidity tolerance of some bacteria in ferments will be greater than the acidity of finished fermented products.

one could make a test: take finished brine from different ferments. mix it. measure ph. then add a bit of sugar or starch. wait. measure again. repeat until ph wont go lower.
 
Karen Donnachaidh
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I know this isn't comparing lacto-fermented foods and probiotics, but adding to the aforementioned...

It seems that fecal microbiota transplants have really gained in popularity over the past several years. They have been used to repopulate beneficial gut bacteria in patients with problems such as C. diff, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, IBS and other intestinal issues. A stool sample is collected from a healthy, tested donor, mixed with saline and given (as an enema, for example) to the patient. This is, supposedly, the fastest way to achieve re-colonization of the diminished number of good bacteria. There are many people, from what I have read, who are attempting to do this at home. (I couldn't imagine how desperate I would have to be to try that!) Some are finding relief from their symptoms, but there are, of course, stories of people making worse problems for themselves.

Could it not be possible to get the beneficial bacteria, pre and probiotics from plants made into suppositories or something like "veggie colonics"? If this is the fastest route and takes the stomach acid out of the equation (therefore, keeping bacteria from being killed off before reaching the intestines), then couldn't it be derived from lovely fruits and vegetables and skip the "ick" factor? Wouldn't this be faster than eating lots of pre and probiotic foods? Some really sick people may need a fast fix. What if a person was so sick they couldn't eat or their body couldn't properly digest food? What do you think?
 
John Saltveit
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Plus, it's pretty uncomfortable to go up to someone and say, "Hey, I've heard you've got pretty good poop.  Can I have some?"
"What are you going to do with it?"
John S
PDX OR
 
Dawn Hoff
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I think that not too long from now you will be able to buy the feval transplants as suppositions in pharmacies.
 
N Thomas
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John Saltveit wrote:My medical guy agrees with what Dawn said.  Especially prebiotic vegies: celery, leeks, dandelions, jerusalem artichoke/sunchoke, jicama, chicory, etc.  Keep the varieties changing every few days.
John S
PDX OR

Hi,
Thanks John and everyone. What are other good prebiotic vegetables and fruits?  Are there common elements to them so I know what to look for if I run into an unusual fruit or vegetable?
 
John Saltveit
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Beans and whole grains also fit in.  My only impression is that they tend to be the opposite of berries. Instead of tart, flavorful, and full of flavor and anti-oxidants, they seem to be fibrous, starchy, and rather devoid of flavor.  Your stomach doesn't digest them, your colon does, so they're not for flavor.
John S
PDX OR
 
N Thomas
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John Saltveit wrote:Beans and whole grains also fit in.  My only impression is that they tend to be the opposite of berries. Instead of tart, flavorful, and full of flavor and anti-oxidants, they seem to be fibrous, starchy, and rather devoid of flavor.  Your stomach doesn't digest them, your colon does, so they're not for flavor.
John S
PDX OR

Hi John,
How about beans that come from a can (organic) but that were subject to pressure cooking before purchase? Are they still useful? Because they're prebiotic, I'm assuming they are?
 
John Saltveit
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Yes, but my issue with cans is that if they don't say BPA free, they probably have BPS, which is very bad.  If they don't have BPA, they might have BPS, which might be worse.

Also, if they are cooked and canned, you cant' cook them with bay leaves or kombu.
John S
PDX OR
 
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