I’ve been discussing the role of fermented foods in preventing or treating dysbiosis and the more difficult condition small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, SIBO. While a high-potency probiotic supplement and prebiotic fibers continue to play important roles, I’d like to expand the conversation about the role of fermented foods.
First of all, there is no need to purchase fermented foods, as you can make them easily, with no special equipment, and at virtually no cost beyond, say, the beets, onions, or cucumbers you plan to ferment. (You will find the basics on how to ferment vegetables in the Wheat Belly Total Health and Undoctored book appendixes; there are many excellent and more detailed websites and books, as well, including Sandor Katz’s excellent and exhaustive book, the Art of Fermentation.) But many people find that even this small effort is too much to manage in a busy life and some store-bought fermented foods would be an advantage. So I’d like to review some of these products in coming weeks and months.
Let’s focus today in a fairly new product available at Whole Foods Market: Farmhouse Culture Fermented Organic Vegetables (company website here). I tried the Taqueria Mix that was somewhat spicy, but there are others to choose from, including Ginger Beets and Orange Ginger Carrots, Kimchi, and Sauerkraut. I paid $5.99 for a 12-ounce bag.
The Taqueria Mix contains fermented carrots, daikon, jicama, onion, and jalapeno. The inclusion of daikon, jicama, and onion means that you obtain prebiotic fibers in addition to probiotic microorganisms. Helpfully, the package lists the CFU count of 110 billion (entire package), which is a very respectful value. (Recall that our probiotic target is at least 50 billion CFUs per day.) They also have analysed the species included that include Lactobacillus pentosus/plantarum (two close-related species that have wide health benefits), L. koreensis (often found in Korean kimchi), L. brevis (found in Japanese fermented veggies), and L. hammesii (an organism in sourdough).
Beyond the familiar “tang” of lactic acid, the mix of peppers, flavors, and seasonings that includes caraway was tasty.
As with prebiotic fibers, there is advantage in variety—a variety of fermented foods that thereby provide a variety of different Lactobacillus, Bifidobacteria, Leuconostoc, Stretococcus, Saccharoymyces and other species. But this product is definitely worth a try for a modest price.