This is a collection of questions people ask about probiotics, probiotic supplements, and fermented food. If you have a question that is not answered here, please submit your question and I will be happy to answer as soon as I can.
What are probiotics?
They are lactic acid producing microorganisms living in a close and mutually beneficial relation with their host (you). Probiotic bacteria naturally reside both inside and outside of the body and are involved in countless body functions.
Which vegetables are best to ferment?
This is mostly a matter of taste. Generally, organic vegetables are great as they contain fewer pesticides and more nutrients. Cabbage is used in many recipes because it is cheap, simple to ferment, goes well with many other vegetables, and remain crunchy after fermentation. Many recipes use 50-80% green cabbage. But try adding also some red cabbage as it’s highly nutritious and adds a wonderful colour.
Other common vegetables are carrots, sweet potatoes, apples, coriander leaves, parsley, ginger root, beet root, chilli peppers, and others. See the A-Z list of veggies to ferment.
Fermenting garlic and onion is great, but together with other veggies the garlic taste might become too dominant. If you are a garlic lover, then just ferment away!Otherwise, a good option is to ferment garlic, onion, or hot pepper in separate jars.
When preparing your first batch, I suggest using only cabbage, a few carrots, and salt. This combination is simple to prepare, yet very tasty.
No much is needed to begin with. Use whatever tools already in your kitchen. However, some tools make the preparation work faster and easier, especially for bigger batches.
A few suggestions:
- A food processor to shred vegetables.
- Canning jars. Around 32 oz jars, wide mouthed are good as it’s easier to pack the vegetables. You can also use the excellent crock pot, but they are more expensive.
- Fermenting jar lids are very practical and inexpensive.
- A sauerkraut pounder (like a small baseball bat) helps to pack the vegetables in jars. Otherwise, use your fist.
- Starter cultures are excellent as they simplify fermentation, create better tastes, help avoid many problems, and produce more probiotic bacteria. Fermenting without a starter is also callled wild fermentation.
Which fermented food contain highest amount of probiotics?
This is not easy to determine and maybe not that important. If you’re using a high-quality starter culture, you will most likely have more probiotic bacteria strains in your jars than if you ferment without a starter.
Remember too that different bacteria species support the digestive tract in different ways. Therefore, it’s not just a question of how many, but also how many bacteria strains.
As an example, usually different kinds of bacteria and yeast are used to ferment the following foods.
More probiotic bacteria develop in the jars when using a culture starter. Some batches might even have trillions of bacteria in a few tablespoons. That’s more bacteria than a whole bottle of probiotic capsules!
Can I overdose on probiotics?
Overdosing is almost impossible. However, we are all unique individuals and can get “too much” in the sense of having some kind of mild, harmless reaction like gas or bloating. Many specialists confirm that probiotics promote a well functioning digestive tract. And in case of gut problems, it can take a while for the gut to adjust to the positive changes when consuming probiotics. If there is a reaction, lower the dose.
In cases of candida overgrowth, infections, and other conditions, the body can react stronger to probiotics. Common symptoms:
- Skin rashes
- Cold or flu symptoms
In many cultures, people consume large quantities of fermented food from childhood without problems or side effects. But if you’re new to probiotics, it’s wise to start off by eating small amounts and slowly increase the dose.
I’ve got serious health problems, do I need to be cautious?
Yes, in some cases people should be careful and definitely consult with their doctor! Check this post on side effects. According to some specialists, people who’s immune system is suppressed, sufferers of fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, gut inflammations and other serious conditions should be cautious.
Which probiotic supplements is best?
For most people any high quality supplement will be fine. Here are a few that I’ve reviewed.
Some people might have specific needs, like when on a GAPS diet, treating autism, ADHD or similar. For such Bio-Kult is a good option. It was designed by specialists for this purpose. Studies indicate that some probiotic strains are better for women, others for men.
In the future, it might be possible to tailor probiotic strains depending on the needs of each individual. Would not that be cool?
I’m on antibiotics, which probiotic supplement should I take?
As we are all different so one cannot be dogmatic. However, below are two high-quality supplements known to support the gut when on antibiotics.
When and how should I take my probiotic supplement when on antibiotics?
Many specialists recommend 15 minutes before breakfast (or other meals), and 2-3 hours after taking antibiotics.
Many say it’s best to start with probiotics as soon as you learn you will be taking antibiotics. This prepares and protects the gut. It’s also beneficial to continue taking probiotics for some time after completing the antibiotics. That can minimize the onslaught of antibiotics on the stomach.
Do I need additional probiotics even if have no serious health problems?
Probiotics are vital for life, without probiotic bacteria in the digestive system we cannot survive! Keeping the gut thriving is therefore essential to stay healthy. A healthy digestive tract contains trillions of bacteria coexisting i a delicate balance.
Because of a poor diet, chlorinated water, stress, medication, and other factors, the gut flora may get weakened or harmful microorganisms might multiply uncontrolled. Therefore, consuming fermented foods is a great way to keep the gut well-functioning.
Preventing health problems is far better that treating a condition that has already developed. A growing body of research show that probiotics may prevent many health problems from developing in the first place.