yogurt

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.

Can Yogurt Treat Depression?

Yogurt is a delicious and nutritional treat people often confuse as a remedy for all sorts of health conditions (often with the sneaky help of science).

But can yogurt treat depression, one of the most pervasive, frustrating and common health problems affecting more than 16 million adults in America annually?

A recent study appearing in Scientific Reports concluded feeding mice a proprietary strain of Lactobacillus reuteri in yogurt made from live cultures was enough on its own to reverse depressive symptoms in stressed out mice.

A team of scientists at the University of Virginia’s School of Medicine came to that finding after studying the gut health of tiny mice and discovering the depletion of Lactobacillus reuteri triggered the onset of depression.

To take it a step further, that loss of Lactobacillus reuteri was responsible for spiking levels of kynurenine (a metabolite in blood) that bring on depressive symptoms. Once mice were fed Lactobacillus reuteri with their food, however, their stress levels returned to nearly normal, scientists said.

This research does represent evidence that the gut-brain axis – the link between your brain, emotions and intestines – is very much a reality, and maintaining a healthy balance among all three is critical for good physical and mental health.

University of Virginia scientists were so pleased with these results on mice, they plan to turn their attention to human subjects, specifically with multiple sclerosis patients who struggle with depression too.

However, one probiotic strain may not be enough to do the trick. Other studies have found probiotics formulated with Bifidobacterium longum may have a similar beneficial effect on treating depression.

What’s more, there’s no guarantees the yogurt you’ll find in a grocery store will contain exactly the right amounts or combinations of beneficial bacteria that make much of a difference on balancing your emotions.

But, there is growing evidence that a probiotic containing multiple strains of beneficial bacteria – think EndoMune Advanced Probiotic — may be a more effective solution for treating depression and a safer one given all of the side effects associated with antidepressants.

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.

Are probiotic foods really beneficial for your gut?

Not only does eating a nutritious diet go a long way toward helping you live a longer life, it also helps you maintain good gut health.

I’m often asked if a diet focusing on probiotic-rich foods can have the same positive effects as taking a concentrated probiotic supplement.

The answer is complicated. Suffice it to say, the jury is still out about the advantages of consuming foods often associated with probiotics. Let’s take a closer look at foods that are made with bacteria to see how they compare to probiotics.

Kombucha: Made with sugar, bacteria, yeast and tea, this non-alcohol beverage is an often marketed as a “probiotic food.” Even its supporters say kombucha is an acquired taste due to its fermented odor and sour flavor. Also, the Mayo Clinic reports adverse effects linked to drinking kombucha (infections, allergic reactions and stomach problems).

Sauerkraut: Another famous probiotic food, sauerkraut is thinly cut cabbage that has been fermented with various lactic acid bacteria, including lactobacillus and leuconostoc and pediococcus. Unfortunately, most brands you’ll find at the grocery store are pasteurized, so they contain no live bacteria.

Miso: This traditional, thick Japanese paste, made by fermenting barley, rice and soybeans with salt and a fungus (kojikin) can be added to sauces, spreads or soups.

Sourdough bread: This kind of bread contains lactobacillus in higher amounts compared to yeast than others due to the fermentation process.

Are probiotic foods really beneficial for your gut?Pickles: The pickled cucumber is a popular food that has been put in a brine, vinegar or another solution and left to ferment for a specific time. But, avoid pickles made with vinegar, as they aren’t naturally fermented (like those made from water and sea salt).

Chocolate: A recent study found one probiotic strain (Bacillus indicus) combined with lemon fiber and maltodextrin in dark chocolate (50 percent cocoa) did survive processing at high rates and texture, taste and color wasn’t significantly affected.

Moreover, previous research concluded chocolate may be a better “carrier” for some probiotics because bacterial survival rates were four times greater.

Kefir: Called the “champagne of milk,” kefir is made from fermenting the lactose contained in milk to lactic acid and yeast that converts lactose into carbon dioxide, giving it a bubbly consistency.

However, consuming kefir may cause intestinal cramping and constipation, particularly when you start using it, according to WebMD.

Yogurt: This probiotic food is the most popular, but you have to make sure the yogurt you eat contains live cultures that are beneficial for your gut health. But that’s not all.

Part of the process in making commercially made yogurt brands includes high-heat pasteurization that kills any harmful bacteria and the introduction of new kinds of bacteria in widely variable amounts that may or may not make a difference to your health.

You’ll also have to choose between yogurt brands containing dairy fat versus sugar or artificial sweeteners, which come with their own individual sets of health problems.

And, if you like frozen yogurt, only a portion of the milk used to make much of it has been fermented, so not many brands offer the probiotic benefits you’re seeking.

The real problem

Are probiotic foods really beneficial for your gut?To enjoy bacterial benefits via this list of foods, in most cases, you’ll have to make them yourself. Also, you’ll have to change your diet substantially to make a dent in your gut bacteria.

Unlike studies in which patients are eating it two or more times a day, some experts believe consuming yogurt just once in a while won’t make a difference at all.

The good news: Taking a daily probiotic made from multiple strains of beneficial bacteria, such as EndoMune Advanced Probiotic, is far more effective in treating a wide range of health problems, from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) to traveler’s diarrhea, than eating foods containing limited amounts, or a single strain, of bacteria.

For children, giving them EndoMune Advanced Jr. will help protect their gut health and immune systems too.

10 Reasons Everyone Should Take a Probiotic

With 100 trillion bacteria and many different species of microflora floating around in our intestinal tract, a balance of good and bad bacteria is necessary to maintain the normal functioning of our immune system and intestines, as well as to promote optimal health.

Considering the recent attention being paid to probiotics—many positive medical studies have been reported in the mainstream media—more people are asking why they need to take a probiotic to protect and improve their overall health.

Here are 10 reasons to take a probiotic for your good health:

1. Your body is under constant attack externally (from exposure to bad bacteria) and internally (our go-go lifestyles hinder our eating habits). Taking a good probiotic, ideally with multiple strains of good bacteria, is the safest, easiest and most effective way to maintain a healthy balance of good bacteria in your body.

2. The human body cannot replenish the various strains of live and beneficial bacteria your body needs every day to stay healthy just by eating foods like yogurt, miso soup, pickles and sauerkraut that usually contain limited amounts of a single strain of bacteria. This is especially true if you’re using probiotics to treat a specific health problem.

3. Probiotics containing multiple strains of beneficial bacteria are more effective in treating a range of health-based problems, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diarrhea, immune function and respiratory tract infections, according to a 2011 analysis of studies.

4. A growing number of studies are showing how taking a probiotic can be beneficial for patients when they are prescribed a broad spectrum antibiotic. Antibiotics can often disrupt the balance of good and bad bacteria in patients’ bodies, causing unwelcome side effects like diarrhea.

5. Taking a good probiotic boosts patients’ natural defenses, protecting them from traveler’s diarrhea, too.

6. New moms can sidestep the prolonged crying and discomfort from their babies suffering infantile colic by giving them a high-quality probiotic.

7. Recent studies have been linked with taking a high-quality probiotic to beneficial effects on the gut-brain axis that may positively affect your emotions and help you beat depression.

8. The healthy bacteria contained in a good probiotic help maintain normal intestinal motility and lessen the problems of constipation.

9. Reducing your risks of colon cancer is as simple as taking a good probiotic.

10. Probiotics are a newfound weapon that may assist in lowering elevated blood pressure and cholesterol levels that contribute to cardiovascular disease.

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