fermented foods

kombucha tea in a mason jar sitting on a table

Kombucha Tea: Facts vs. Fiction

Does drinking a cup of slightly sweet tea containing a live fermented mix of bacterial and yeast cultures sound appealing to you?

For many people who drink kombucha tea, it does by a long shot.

You can’t make a trip to the grocery store without seeing shelves full of bottled kombucha teas in various flavors, along with books and instructional kits on how to make it at home.

Many people see the word “fermented” — just like yogurt, pickles, sourdough bread, sauerkraut and tempeh — and assume they’re enjoying a delicious source of beneficial bacteria.

But is it really all that beneficial? Let’s find out with a review of how it’s made by true believers at home.

Making kombucha at home

Kombucha is created by brewing tea — black, green or oolong — removing the bags, then adding sugar while the brew is still hot, according to Food Source Information, a food production resource created by Colorado State University

Once the tea cools to room temperatures, a spongy culture called a SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast) is added to the brew along with a starter liquid made from previously fermented kombucha to prevent contamination of the tea.

(You can buy a SCOBY and starter liquid at a local health food store or even online.)

The tea and SCOBY are placed in a glass, plastic or stainless steel container, covered with a clean towel and out of direct sunlight for up to 10 days to ferment.

After that, the kombucha tea may be ready for extra flavoring but only if the pH levels of the mix are between 2.5-4.2 (no higher or lower for safety’s sake).

The fictional benefits

If the process of making kombucha at home sounds time-consuming and tricky, it is.

Making kombucha tea at home can be risky if people aren’t careful to keep it safe and sanitary from contamination from bugs like aspergillus that can harm people with compromised immune systems.

Back to addressing the initial question — Is kombucha tea really good for your gut? — there is very little hard medical evidence beyond subjective accounts to support it.

In fact, a recent review by researchers at the University of Missouri School of Medicine appearing in the Annals of Epidemiology found exactly one study (from 2002) documenting any health benefits of kombucha in human subjects.

Moreover, this review found a number of potential risks to human health, including hepatitis after drinking kombucha tea for two years.

That’s not surprising given that kombucha is unpasteurized and contains an unpredictable mix of bacteria that can create problems for people with weaker immune systems.

Plus, if you’re watching your weight, many mass-produced brands of kombucha drinks contain a lot of sugar, as much as 7 teaspoons per serving!

The best and safest way to replenish the bacteria your body and gut needs to maintain good health is also the most predictable one.

Taking a probiotic, ideally with multiple strains of beneficial bacteria like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic, does the work to protect and boost your immune system and is far better at treating and protecting you from a wider range of health issues too.

Could Crickets Improve Your Gut Health?

Do you like bugs in your food… literally?

You’ve probably seen news reports about the edible insect industry and its attempts to make an eco-friendly impact on the foods we eat in America.

An increasing number of companies are using insects — crickets are the most popular but locusts and mealworms are also on the menu — as substitutes for the proteins and fiber farmers typically grow for food for eco-friendly reasons (reduced water, space and greenhouse gases).

Everything from cookies and protein bars to chips and pet foods are being formulated and sold with insects in mind. There’s even a registry for restaurants and food products called BUGSfeed that can help you locate restaurants and stores specializing in edible insects.

We know insects may be something you actively avoid, especially in your foods, but they are a staple in the diets of some 2 billion people worldwide, according to the United Nations.

A group of scientists from the University of Wisconsin, Colorado State University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently investigated the benefits of eating foods made with cricket-based flour on human gut health.

The controlled study, which appeared in Scientific Reports, measured the effects of feeding breakfast foods (muffins and smoothies) prepared with cricket flour on 20 health adults over a four-week period.

Although there were no side effects reported, scientists discovered some benefits to human gut health, namely reductions in a key inflammatory protein linked to cancer and depression, as well as increases in a strain of Bifidobacteria.

Still not convinced? The study’s lead author, Valerie Stull, who has eaten a lot of insects in her travels around the world, makes a good point about how American cuisine has shifted more recently to embrace a greater variety of foods.

“Food is very tied to culture, and 20 or 30 years ago, no one in the U.S. was eating sushi because we thought it was disgusting. But now you can get it at a gas station in Nebraska.”

So, eating foods made with insects may become mainstream as well as OK for your gut. But it’s important to pay attention to how they are prepared.

In this study, cricket flour was used in muffins and smoothies made with milk or sugar, ingredients that could negate its gut health benefits.

Yes, insects may be trendy food picks, just like fermented foods, on grocery store shelves. However, taking a probiotic like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic that contains multiple strains of beneficial bacteria plus a natural prebiotic may be a better, more effective way to help your gut and your overall health too.

a spoon next to a mug of yogurt

Do Fermented Foods Really Help Your Gut?

You’ve probably read the same stories I have online and in other places promoting the value of fermented foods, from the familiar (yogurt, kombucha tea, pickles, cottage cheese, sourdough bread, soy sauce and sauerkraut) to the more exotic (tempeh and miso) to give your gut health an extra boost.

Does this mean eating fermented foods delivers the same dependable gut health benefits you’d receive by taking a probiotic?

The short answer: Probably not. In most cases, there’s no harm in eating fermented foods, but the benefits are debatable and your overall health may get worse if you’re not careful, for several reasons.

  1. Some of the more familiar fermented foods you see at many grocery stores like yogurt may be produced in high heat environments and are probably pasteurized, so there’s little chance of any active bacteria surviving those processes.
  2. Don’t assume any foods are fermented, unless they say so on food labels. For example, it’s easy to assume that any jar of pickles you buy at the grocery store is fermented. But, if those pickles were processed with vinegar, they won’t contain beneficial bacteria.
  3. Monitoring the amount of salt you eat? Popular fermented foods — kimchi, sauerkraut, miso and pickles — contain lots of sodium.
  4. Are you watching your sugar intake too? The sugar content of many yogurts and kombucha tea you’ll find at local grocery stores may be high, and the amounts contained in organic brands of yogurt can be excessive.
  5. There’s lots of online resources that provide guidance in making fermented foods at home cheaply. But, the process is labor-intensive, and you have to keep everything sanitary so no extra bugs spoil your fermented foods.
  6. Adding fermented foods to your diet may trigger problems with gas and bloating in the beginning if you overdo it. And, to make a real difference, experts say you’ll need to eat them every day too.

The $64,000 question even the experts can’t answer is how much or what kinds of beneficial bacteria you’ll actually consume when eating fermented foods.

That’s why taking a product like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic ensures you’re receiving multiple strains of beneficial bacteria your body needs. Plus, our line of EndoMune products features a natural prebiotic that feeds the good bugs in your gut, another feature fermented foods don’t have.

group of people working

Probiotics Improve Workplace Health and Increase Productivity

Probiotic means ‘promoting life,’ and they are life-enhancing supplements that work at your gut level. The live microorganisms of a probiotic benefit the host’s gut by launching healthy bacteria in the gut. Your gut health is closely related to your work life, and plays a significant role in your quality of work and productivity.

There are many cases where employees miss days at work due to infections and diarrhea. In an earlier study in Sweden, it was found that strains of Lactobacillus can “reduce the proportion of subjects reporting sick from gastrointestinal or respiratory tract diseases by 60%. The effect was highly statistically significant and similar to the findings by Weizman et al., where small children in daycare centers had a 70 percent lower frequency of absence when given Lactobacillus as compared with a placebo,” according to ehjournal.

Benefits of a Probiotic

Probiotics help the food move through your gut. Researchers are still trying to figure out which are best for certain health problems. Some common conditions probiotics treat include:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Infectious diarrhea (caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites)
  • Antibiotic-related diarrhea

Research has also shown that probiotics seem to improve other health problems like:

  • Skin conditions like eczema
  • Urinary and vaginal health
  • Preventing allergies and colds
  • Oral health

The use of probiotics can counter-attack these problems by launching the good helpful bacteria in our system. Researchers are always working to find more uses of probiotics and how it can help the human body especially by replacing the harmful bacteria in the gut.

In the workforce, employees are constantly expected to perform up to their optimum levels, and probiotics can turn out to be a boon for keeping productivity levels up by reducing health problems and chances of stomach infection.

Different bacteria have a reputation of causing stomach related diseases. Growing scientific evidence suggests that probiotics can control many health problems and benefit the body.

An estimated 100 trillion microorganisms representing more than 500 different species inhabit every normal, healthy bowel. Gut-dwelling bacteria keep pathogens (harmful microorganisms) in check, aid digestion, and nutrient absorption, and contribute to immune function.

Higher immunity means lesser cases and bouts of sickness at the workplace. A regular dose of probiotics means a happy gut and increased productivity. When you start a dose of probiotics, ensure you choose a good probiotic with the right amount of probiotic strains. The more varied the bacteria, the better the probiotic supplement.

Probiotic Strains

While probiotic cultures naturally occur in certain fermented foods, these foods won’t have the same effect of taking a multispecies probiotic like EndoMune Advanced. Additionally, EndoMune is one of the few probiotics to contain a prebiotic, which acts as a fuel source for the probiotic. Overall, adding a daily multispecies probiotic that contains a prebiotic has been shown to be more efficacious in improving gut and systemic health.

To find the relief you’ve been looking for, talk to your doctor about adding a probiotic like EndoMune to your daily regimen for help in aiding gut-related health issues.

Yogurt and your gut health

When people talk to me at seminars about improving their gut health, some say they’re already eating yogurt every day… So why should they take probiotics?

Their confusion is understandable. Big food companies spend a lot of money on studies to show off the healthy value of foods they produce, like this 2013 study published in the journal Gastroenterology funded by Danone Research.

For this small study, scientists tested the effect of a non-fermented yogurt containing four different strains of probiotic bacteria on 36 women (ages 18-55) for four weeks on brain functionality.

Patients were divided into three groups: Women who ate the yogurt with beneficial bacteria twice a day, a plain mixture with no bacteria or nothing at all.

Based on functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) done before and after the four-week period, women who ate the yogurt containing probiotic bacteria experienced a decrease in engagement in parts of their brains when shown a series of frightened or angry faces, then matching these with other faces showing the same emotions.

Also, women who ate the probiotic-laced yogurt experienced greater connectivity with the prefrontal cortex during a resting fMRI. In fact, scientists were surprised to see these effects in many areas of the brain, including sensory processing.

The real benefit of this study was to demonstrate one more time how consuming beneficial probiotic bacteria affects the gut-brain axis — the biological connection linking the gut, emotions and brain as one — in very positive ways.

Why not yogurt?

Still, the looming question — Why isn’t the yogurt you’re eating having the same effect on your gut health and emotions? — remains.

It’s very possible scientists tested a mixture of live bacteria in that non-fermented yogurt. Unfortunately, most brands of yogurt you’ll find at your neighborhood grocery store are made with high-heat pasteurization.

This processing kills harmful bacteria at the expense of introducing new bacteria that may not benefit your health.

Plus, most yogurt brands are made with a problematic list of ingredients (artificial sweeteners, dairy fat or sugar) that can drive obesity.

To derive any gut health benefits from yogurt or other probiotic/fermented foods we reviewed in a recent blog post, you’ll probably need to prepare them, a time-consuming task that requires a lot of time and follow strict food safety guidelines to protect yourself from illness.

The major difference between eating yogurt or fermented foods and taking a daily probiotic is a pretty simple one. With foods, you’re not sure how much beneficial bacteria you’re eating from serving to serving, if any at all.

Taking probiotics, like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic and EndoMune Junior, ensures you’re receiving multiple strains of beneficial bacteria plus prebiotics that feed the good bacteria already living in your gut.

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