Probiotic foods and fermentation
Fermentation is the transformative action of bacteria on a substance, and it takes many forms, but today we’re only talking about the good stuff: probiotics.
When specific bacteria and communities of microorganisms are introduced to food, with the right conditions (temperature, pH, oxygen, water, etc.) they proliferate, manage the ecosystem and provide beneficial functions for human health.
Microbes make a home in this food because it has good sources of sustenance, like sugars that they feed on and turn into things like vitamins. Often they coexist with yeasts, like in bread, beer and kombucha, and together, they can break down tough-to-digest proteins.
Bacteria that feature the most in fermented foods includes members of the Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium and Streptococcus genera. If you’re wondering, genera is the fancy latin plural form of genus, a subcategory of bacteria according to scientific classification.
Overall, the action of fermentation has several benefits: it provides a home and a delicious delivery method for beneficial bacteria to enter our gut because we can eat them, and it makes food more digestible for humans.
Cultures around the world have been fermenting foods for thousands of years. In fact, some of our favourite foods are fermented and probiotic. However, mass-produced fermented foods are often pasteurised and no longer contain live cultures.
Probiotics benefits and dysbiosis
The potential benefits of probiotics have been recognised for a while. That’s why doctors often prescribe a probiotic supplement at the same time as an antibiotic, often to prevent diarrhoea.
Probiotic supplements can help by adding beneficial bacteria that stabilise and balance the communities of bacteria in your gut microbiome: when they are off-kilter, it can cause dysbiosis.
This condition happens when the balance of bacteria is off, and microbes with potentially negative health consequences settle down in the gut or become too abundant. It causes inflammation and digestive problems.
Most importantly, chronic dysbiosis is now considered a risk factor in many diseases including Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis, cardiovascular disease and neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s. It may also affect how the body responds to important life-saving treatments.
Angelina | Journal of Probiotics and Health | Whatsapp: +3225889658