Probiotics Part III: Bacteria
Just how important is it to keep your gut bacteria happy and healthy? Think of it this way: The bacteria in your body outnumber your cells by about 10 to 1. When you eat healthy, you eat foods that you believe are best for your body, true? Wouldn’t it make sense, then, to also eat foods that nourish the bacteria that make up such a huge proportion of your body? Of course!
Fermented foods achieve this nourishment by simultaneously providing your body with bacteria from the fermented food to work alongside your gut bacteria and by supplying your bacteria with vitamins to break down. One of the many reasons our gut bacteria are so vital is because they produce vitamins for our bodies that we couldn’t synthesize or break down on our own. There are vitamins that our bodies can produce from within (biosynthesis), vitamins that we get by consuming food, and vitamins that we get from food that need to be broken down properly in order to be successfully absorbed. Bacteria help us with this last action. Gut bacteria both extract and synthesize the vitamins from these foods that we wouldn’t otherwise absorb, like vitamin K and different B vitamins.
The bacteria also help in the overall process of breaking down food that we otherwise have difficulty digesting on our own, thus further aiding in the absorption of nutrients. Although it would be relatively easy to acquire probiotics in your diet with a simple supplement, fermented foods offer a much denser health kick: Research shows that sauerkraut contains more probiotics than an over-the-counter supplement, with just 2 ounces of sauerkraut providing more probiotics than a bottle of 100 count probiotic capsules!