How to Shop for Gut Health Part II

In the first part of this series, How to Shop for Gut Health Part I, we covered:

  • What is a prebiotic and how often should you eat them?
  • The different types of yogurt and how to choose the right one for you.
  • How to tell real bone broth from improperly made alternatives.
  • What to stay away from when shopping for gut health.

READ: How to Shop for Gut Health Part I

In this article, we explore:

  • What to look for when shopping for fermented vegetables.
  • How to pick the right probiotic supplement.
  • What is kombucha and what to look for when shopping


Are fermented vegetables probiotics?

Probiotics are naturally found on the skins of fruits and vegetables and in dairy products. The process of fermentation allows the good bacteria to multiply.

So that means beer and wine are good for digestion?

Unfortunately, no. Many food products that have been fermented, such as beer, wine, and sourdough bread undergo further processing – pasteurization, smoking, baking, or filtering – which kills the live, good bacteria.

Some research shows that even dead bacteria can be beneficial, but if you're looking for the BEST foods to support digestion, you want your good bacteria live. 

What fermented foods DO contain probiotics?

  • Raw sauerkraut
  • Kimchi
  • Yogurt
  • Kefir
  • Kvass
  • Buttermilk
  • Pickled vegetables

The key is that the good bacteria has to be ALIVE. When shopping for these foods you want to head to the refrigerated section.

Remember: heat kills live bacteria, so your best bet for getting high-quality, probiotic foods filled with live bacteria is either to make them yourself (it’s actually pretty easy!) or head straight to the refrigerated section and read the labels!

You want the label to state that the product is unpasteurized, or “raw,” and “contains live active cultures”.


How to choose a probiotic supplement…

When it comes to probiotic supplements the choices are endless. Refrigerated or unrefrigerated? How many billion or trillion strains do you need? What about the type of strain? It can be pretty overwhelming so we’ll make it simple for you. When shopping for probiotic supplements just remember four things:

  1. Shop refrigerated
  2. Number of strains is more important that number of CFUs
  3. Switch up your brands
  4. Avoid fillers and additives

Which is better: refrigerated or non-refrigerated probiotics?

Like with fermented foods, we recommend buying refrigerated brands of probiotics. This is not to say that there aren’t many quality brands of non-refrigerated probiotics, however, in Sharon’s clinical practice, she found refrigerated brands of probiotics to be the most effective.

What’s more important CFUs or number of strains?

CFU stands for "colony forming unit" and it is a measurement of the good bacteria and yeasts in probiotic supplements. You'll commonly see CFU on a probiotic supplement label, such as “Contains 1 BILLION CFUs”. We know that the human body contains TRILLIONS of bacteria, so no matter how many CFUs a supplement contains, it’s only a TEENY TINY drop in the bucket compared to how much bacteria we have in our body.

The more important thing to look for in a probiotic supplement is the number of strains.

Remember: when populating your gut with good bacteria, it’s like you’re planting wildflowers – you want as many different kinds as possible. So, when shopping for a probiotic supplement look for a brand that has a couple of different kinds of strains.

If you’re only taking a single-strain probiotic, that’s okay too, if you follow our next tip…

Rotate your probiotic brands.

A great way to get a variety of different probiotic strains into your body is to constantly be rotating both your probiotic foods and probiotic supplements. Try one brand for a while and then switch to another. This guarantees that you’ll get a wide variety of different strains of probitioc bacteria.

Always read your labels!

If we were to only be able to give out one piece of advice for the rest of our lives it would be to always, always read your labels! Just like with food, supplements can be filled with additives and fillers. When shopping for a probiotic supplement make sure the ingredients are clean.


What is kombucha and why is it good for you?

Kombucha is a bubbly drink that’s made from fermenting tea and sugar. It’s kind of like an all-natural soda.

When shopping for kombucha you want to make sure it’s refrigerated (like all fermented foods) and look for some funky stuff floating around the bottom of the bottle – that is remnants of the SCOBY mushroom – the live bacteria culture that’s used to make the kombucha.

Want to know more about shopping for gut health?

Read part I of this series where we discuss:

  • What is a prebiotic and how often should you eat them?
  • The different types of yogurt and how to choose the right one for you.
  • How to tell real bone broth from improperly made alternatives.
  • What to stay away from when shopping for gut health.

Or check out our blog:

3 Easy Ways to Improve Digestion Naturally

1 comment

I love both kombucha and buttermilk as food sources as probiotics but I also use a refrigerated porbiotic supplement called Florajen. Haven’t had any gut problems in months!

Rachel December 17, 2019

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