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I usually come on here to ask questions, but felt the need to share some positive things that have eased my symptoms a bit lately...

I've taken various probiotic pills over the years, and more often than not, the pills actually end up making my symptoms worse, rather than better. However, I've started fermenting my own vegetables over the past year and have started to notice a trend that most of these probiotic-rich fermented foods are actually really helpful for my symptoms. Here are the functional foods that have been helping me the most lately:

  • First and foremost, homemade beet kvass really helps out and is very easy to make. I added ginger to my last kvass because of anti-inflammatory properties, was a nice taste boost too.
  • Homemade sauerkraut is also a huge boost (drinking the juice in particular, similar to kvass seems to be an effective delivery system for me). I had caraway seeds in the last one, and could be just perceived, but I think they added some benefits.

Some tips:

  • Ferment the foods yourself... store-bought are pasteurized and have less microbial variation.
  • Don't use starters for the same reason.... the microbial communities in a fermentation go through multiple transitions and are very diverse, using a starter like whey interferes with that process and I suspect limits the microbial diversity of the final product.
  • Probably better to start with organic
  • Don't use tap water for ferments.... more and more municipal water systems are using chloramine, which can't be boiled out pre-ferment like normal chlorinated tap water (distilled water is what I use)
  • There is a good chance that fermented foods won't work for everyone, maybe making some worse. When I have gotten worse after taking the wrong probiotic pill in the past, I've found that crushed garlic is a big help to press the reset button. Basically crush the clove into a few big pieces and let it sit out for at least 15 minutes to release the alacin compound, then swallow it down un-chewed (I use about 2-oz of water to make the process easier). Sometimes I repeat this once a day for 2-3 days.

Stray thoughts:

  • I am going to expand this kind of experiment and start using more foods that are already traditionally used as supplements for ibs, such as more ginger ferments. Will follow-up on this thread or a new post if I see dramatic results.
  • I plan to combine this steady diet of fermented foods with a comprehensive wellness approach of mindfulness / CBT, exercise, FODMAP diet, etc. to really make a big push toward restored gut health in the near future.
  • I think one of the reasons that the foods work so much better than the pills is due to the highly acidic nature of these foods.... it helps create an environment in the gut (maybe?) in which the probiotics can survive and others less so, at least compared to pills alone.

Hope this is of some help to other suffers out there.
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