This is a collection of questions people have asked me about probiotics, probiotic supplements, and fermented food. If you have a question that is not answered here, please submit your question and I will be happy to answer as soon as I can.
Which vegetables are best to ferment?
This is mostly a matter of taste. Generally, organic vegetables are great as they contain fewer pesticides and more nutrients. Cabbage is used in many recipes because it is cheap, simple to ferment, goes well with many other vegetables, and remain crunchy after fermentation. Many recipes use 50-80% green cabbage. But try adding also some red cabbage; it’s highly nutritious and adds a wonderful colour to the mix.
Other common vegetables: Carrots, sweet potatoes, apples, coriander leaves, parsley, ginger root, beet root, chilli peppers, and many others. See the A-Z list of veggies to ferment.
Be careful to include garlic and onion with other veggies as they often dominate too much. Hot pepper is great! But be cautious as the taste after fermentation can become very strong. Sometime it might be best to ferment garlic and onions in separate jars. The advantage is that you can add them on the side when you like. But if you are a garlic lover, then just ferment away!
When preparing your first batch, I suggest using only cabbage, a few carrots, and salt. This combination is simple to prepare, yet very tasty.
You don’t really need that much to begin with. Use whatever tools you have in your kitchen. This will most likely be enough. However, if you want to prepare bigger batches, you might want to invest in tools that makes the preparation work faster and easier.
Here are a few suggestions:
1. A food processor to shred vegetables saves much time.
2. Canning jars. 32 oz jars are good, but a little smaller or bigger jars are also fine. Best if the jars are wide-mouthed as it makes it easier to pack the vegetables. You can also use the excellent crock pot, but they are more expensive.
3. A kraut pounder (looks like a small baseball bat), helps to pack the vegetables. Otherwise, use your fist.
4. Starter cultures are excellent as they simplify fermentation, create better tastes, help avoid many problems, and produce more probiotic bacteria. But you can also try wild fermentation.
Which fermented food contain highest amount of probiotics?
This is not easy to determine. The reason is that it depends on what you’re fermenting and how you’re doing it. For example, if you’re using a high-quality starter culture, you will most likely have more probiotic bacteria in your product than fermenting without a starter.
Culture starters contain different bacteria depending on what is being fermented. Different bacteria species support the digestive tract in different ways. Therefore, it’s not just a question of how much, but also what kind of bacteria.
As an example, different kinds of bacteria are used to ferment the following foods.
Generality, you get more probiotic bacteria when using a culture starter, perhaps even trillions in a few tablespoons. That’s more bacteria than a whole bottle of probiotic capsules!
Can I overdose on probiotics?
Overdosing is almost impossible. However, we are all unique individuals and can get “too much” in the sense of getting a reaction. Some people might detox too quickly (called a “healing crisis”). Many specialists confirm taht probiotics promote a cleansing of the digestive tract, and for some this is bettter done slowly. Therefore, if there is a reaction, lower the dose.
In cases of candida overgrowth, infections, and other conditions, the body can react stronger to probiotics. Here are some common symptoms:
- Skin rashes
- Cold or flu symptoms
In many cultures, people consume large quantities of fermented food from childhood and they have no problem. But if you’re new to probiotics, you might want to start by eating small amounts and slowly increase the dose. Millions of people worldwide has consumed fermented foods daily for centuries without any risk of overdosing.
I’ve got serious health problems, do I need to be cautious?
Yes, in some cases people should be careful and definitely consult with their doctor! Check this post on side effects. People who’s immune system is suppressed, sufferers of fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, gut inflammations and other serious conditions should be cautious.
Which probiotic supplements is best?
For people who don’t suffer from any serious condition, any high quality supplement will be fine. Here are a few that I’ve reviewed.
However, some can also have very specific needs. For example, for those on a GAPS diet, treating autism, ADHD or similar, then Bio-Kult has been designed by specialists for this purpose. Studies indicate that some probiotics are better for women, others for men.
Perhaps in the future we will be able to tailor specific probiotics for each individual depending on his or her needs. That would be cool!
I’m on antibiotics, which probiotic supplement should I take?
As we are all different, one cannot be dogmatic. However, these two are high-quality supplements known to support your gut in case you’re on antibiotics.
When and how should I take my probiotic supplement when on antibiotics?
Many specialists recommend 15 minutes before breakfast, and 2-3 hours after taking antibiotics.
If possible, begin with probiotics before starting with antibiotics. This will prepare the gut. It’s also beneficial to continue taking probiotics long after completing the antibiotics. This is great way to compensate for the onslaught of antibiotics on the stomach.
Do I need additional probiotics even if have no serious health problems?
Probiotics are vital for life, without probiotic bacteria in the gut we cannot survive! Keeping the gut thriving is therefore essential to stay healthy. A healthy digestive tract contains trillions of bacteria coexisting i a delicate balance.
But because of a poor diet, chlorinated water, stress, antibiotics and other factors, the gut flora may get weakened or harmful microorganisms might multiply uncontrolled. Therefore, adding probiotics daily—eating fermented foods or taking a supplement—is an important factor to keep the gut well-functioning.
Preventing disease is far better that treating a condition that has already developed. A growing body of research show that probiotics can prevent many health problems from developing in the first place.
Therefore, consuming fermented foods on a daily basis is one of the best and simplest strategies to stay healthy.