This article is about “fermented foods can replace probiotic supplements”. Fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi can help the gut balance its bacteria. But there are other fermented foods that can help your gut: yoghurt and kefir, which is a fermented probiotic milk drink. Other fermented foods are tempeh, miso, kombucha and fermented pickles. Kimchi does not only provide healthy gut digestion, but it also prevents the formation of toxins from unhealthy gut bacteria. These toxins can damage the kidneys. Kimchi prevents kidney damage.
Sauerkraut, fermented pickles, kimchi, yoghurt and kefir are foods that have been consumed for centuries. They provide nutrients, vitamins and minerals along with plenty of fiber and probiotic bacteria to support the gut. I consider kimchi and sauerkraut the better probiotic than probiotic pills, which likely are too concentrated.
Replace probiotic with fermented foods
Some cases of septicemia following probiotics suggest that it may be safer to replace probiotic supplements with fermented foods.
A study at the Boston Children’s Hospital found that cases of septicemia were caused by probiotic supplements. Researchers performed whole-genome sequencing of the probiotic supplement and the bacteria found in the blood of septicemic patients. They found that they were identical.
In the last 10 years the popularity of probiotic supplements has risen considerably. In health food stores you can find probiotics with 30 billion to 100 billion gut bacteria per capsule. But in a minority of 1.1% these gut bacteria find their way into the blood stream, where they become life threatening.
How to use sauerkraut or Kimchi to prepare meals
You don’t want to cook or heat sauerkraut or kimchi as any temperature above 46°C (115°F) kills the friendly gut bacteria. It is best to add fermented food at the end of your food preparation to the plate.
By adding fermented food to your meals, you are adding vitamins C and K, iron, and fiber as well as healthy gut bacteria called probiotics. This optimizes your gut flora and balances your gut microbiome. The gut plays a vital role for maintaining good health all the time. The immune system benefits from fermented food. But even your kidneys profit from balanced gut bacteria. When there is an overgrowth of bad bacteria in your gut, they produce uremic toxins. Fermented foods remove uremic toxins, which benefits kidney function.
Negative effects of sauerkraut
Some research showed that sauerkraut can in some people induce inflammation locally in the gut. In other cases, sauerkraut caused diarrhea or allergic reactions due to its high histamine content. Otherwise sauerkraut is tolerated well by most people. Kimchi is healthier than sauerkraut due to its higher probiotic content and increased probiotic bacteria count. Consuming the so-called “good bacteria” in kimchi can help you maintain a healthy digestion.
How to make sauerkraut
If you wonder how you make sauerkraut yourself at home, here is a guide how to do it. Otherwise, you get it in many grocery stores or health food stores. Make sure it comes in a glass jar and is in the refrigerated section. Any canned sauerkraut has been heated and the beneficial probiotic bacteria were killed in the process.
Fermented food may be the better choice as a supplement than probiotics in capsules. At the Boston Children’s Hospital, a study found that 1.1% of the patients in the intensive care unit developed a septicemia. Genetic tests revealed that the bugs that caused the septicemia were due to identical bacteria from the probiotic given orally or through a feeding tube. The authors of that study felt that a healthier alternative of providing probiotics is by the consumption of fermented foods, such as kombucha, miso, tempeh, fermented pickles, yoghurt, kefir, kimchi or sauerkraut rather than highly concentrated probiotic pills.