From a vast array of available probiotic supplements to fermented kombucha tea, nicely bottled at every corner.
Get ready, bacteria are taking over!
Fermented foods, including kombucha, may be currently booming among Western society but the truth is, it has been consumed for quite a while.
The research and awareness about gut health have never been more promoted and consequently, it’s leaving many of us confused and overwhelmed.
At the end of the day, we want to grasp for the healthiest option and also the most affordable one.
But, what’s better?
Drinking a cold, fizzy tea at our lunch break or popping a strong probiotic supplement combined in one small pill?
Sources of live bacteria
Live cultures are microbes associated with foods, that went through a fermentation process.
For centuries, they have been used for multiple health issues including, prevention of diarrhea, dysbiosis, mental health, skin conditions and many more.
There is one problem though.
Most of these have not been clinically tested for health benefits.
And even if certain foods received some research attention such as consumption of kefir associated with a wide range of functional and probiotic properties, further studies are required to validate this statement.
On the other hand, probiotics are live bacteria that have been shown to have health effects. Bear in mind, this doesn’t mean all probiotic supplements are backed up by scientific research.
Actually, it’s the very opposite. Most brands on the market provide false claims and lack of evidence for their effectiveness as dietary supplements don’t have to be FDA regulated.
And so, good research into the background of the probiotic supplement you want to purchase is well recommended.
Kombucha vs. Probiotic Supplement
What is kombucha?
Kombucha is a fermented tea originated in China or Japan and has been consumed for 1000s of years.
On top of its high antioxidant level as a tea, it is rich in beneficial live cultures.
This slightly sweet and tart beverage is made by adding a colony of live bacteria and yeast, known as SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast). These help with the fermentation process and results in the delicious kombucha beverage.
A well-known hipster drink is hitting the mainstream faster than ever.
But are its beneficial properties really true?
A recent systemic review looked at the human health benefits of kombucha. The review concluded kombucha presented some health benefits in nonhuman subjects and critically pointed out human studies are needed to prove its functional healing properties.
On another note, looking at the microbiology of kombucha, it is vaguely fungal.
The yeast and Lactobacillus convert sugar into lactic acid and ethyl alcohol. Then, acetic acid bacteria like Acetobacter and Gluconacetobacter convert the alcohol into vinegar.
As we already know, these are the good guys receiving plenty of healing credits from gastrointestinal conditions all the way to yeast infections.
Creating a microbial balance between the good and bad guys is important, but there is one big problem with kombucha.
Just like with any probiotic food, it’s challenging to know what you are getting in your kombucha bottle.
The probiotic cocktail depends on multiple factors:
- Content of tea
- Strength and amount of SCOBY
- Incubation temperature
- Shelf life
And so, with kombucha and other fermented foods, you can only estimate its strength and effectiveness.
What is a probiotic supplement?
As already mentioned, you need to have your eyes wide open with gut-healing supplements.
Often, companies fail to state correct nutritional information and CFU (colony forming units). For a long time, we’ve been told the more the better. However, there is no single proof that all these live bacteria survive the digestive tract journey.
Just think about it.
The moment you consume a probiotic, live bacteria is introduced to a new environment at a higher temperature (aka body temperature).
They then have to face a harsh acidity of the stomach that for many can be detrimental.
In fact, there are no general recommendations for a probiotic dose to be effective and so, it makes sense that the dose must be based on studies that show an effect.
A good example of this is a Just Thrive probiotic supplement who invested in research, designing a sporal probiotic containing a patented strain called Bacillus Indicus HU36®, which produces antioxidants in the digestive system.
As the live bacteria are in a protective spore, they manage to survive the acidic environment in the stomach and arrive at their final destination (the gut) alive and ready for action.
Actually, their recent study about “Oral spore-based probiotic supplementation was associated with a reduced incidence of post-prandial dietary endotoxin, triglycerides, and disease risk biomarkers” and was published in the World Journal of Gastrointestinal Pathophysiology.
In summary, the study showed a reduction in dietary endotoxin, triglycerides and potential systemic inflammation making it an excellent probiotic supplement for leaky gut.
Suggested Read: Detailed Just Thrive Probiotic Review: By Gut Nutritionist.
Drinking kombucha or taking a pill?
It comes to no surprise that scientific evidence grasps our attention and increases our trust when purchasing a new product.
And so, even though you should implement fermented foods into your diet on a regular basis, taking a probiotic especially when healing your gut from terrible food poisoning, gastritis or IBS will greatly increase your chances of becoming symptom-free.
On a higher note, you may also save some money considering a bottle of kombucha can set you back $3 or more per bottle.
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