The Benefits of Probiotics

By Ben Hewitt, Joyce Hendley, M.S., "The Power of Probiotics," November/December 2010

For years, Sandor Katz has been fermenting foods, convinced that the probiotics they contain are keeping him healthy despite his compromised immune system.

Guo explains how fermentation can make foods a little safer: “When you ferment foods, they become more acidic, which inhibits the growth of potentially harmful bacteria. At the same time, they are producing antimicrobial compounds [that help to thwart bad bacteria].” Guo grew up in China, where lacto-fermenting is still a common food-preservation technique.

Most folks probably don’t ferment vegetables because it makes their food safer. But a growing number of people are turning to probiotic-rich foods for their associations with improved health; no doubt some of these enthusiasts have been encouraged by Katz’s testimonial in Wild Fermentation: “[N]othing is a panacea, and fermented foods did not prevent me from developing AIDS,” he writes. “I’ve lived through harrowing downward spirals.... I take anti-retroviral drugs, but many different factors, including regular consumption of live fermented foods, contribute to my present robust and energetic state.... Tangible health benefits have only encouraged my devotion to fermentation.”

Contributing editor Ben Hewitt is the author of The Town That Food Saved (Rodale Books, March 2010).
Contributing editor Joyce Hendley is an award-winning science journalist who specializes in writing about food and nutrition.

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