One mistake that I see over and over again is this: Anything fermented is good for the body.
Kefir? Kombucha? Even wine?
These days alcoholic drinks—including kombucha and wine—enjoy the status of a “health food” because of they contain living or dead probiotics. (Yes, dead probiotics still do good things in the body.)
But here’s where things get interesting: Quality matters.
And the type of bacteria and yeast that you find in a wild ferment are very different from those that you find in cultured foods containing specific probiotics.
A wild ferment is anything that starts the fermentation process with “wild” or unregulated bacteria and yeast.
In kefir, this means the kefir grains. In kombucha, this means the SCOBY or tea fungus. And in wine, this could mean the microbes on the grapes’ skin.
A wild mix of bacteria and yeast usually contains some good microbes and some not-so-good microbes. A wild ferment may even strengthen the digestion of a healthy person.
But remember that “healthy” isn’t black or white. It’s a word that means something unique for each person.
For someone who is sick—who frequently gets infections, who’s exhausted all the time, who has an autoimmune disease, food sensitivities, gut troubles, or a skin disorder—wild ferments can be disastrous.
This is because wild ferments contain microbes that challenge the immune system and stress the body.
By stress, I mean a surge of pro-inflammatory chemicals.
This is why I always recommend using a starter culture that contains only good bacteria and yeast. Especially when healing from leaky gut, hormonal imbalances, immune system disorders, and adrenal fatigue.
Because a starter culture ensures that you consume only probiotics that have been proven to benefit the body.
Rizk, S., El Khoury, N., El-Hayek, S., Tarras, O., El-sibai, M., & El-Sabban, M. (2014). Kefir exhibits anti-proliferative and pro-apoptotic effects on colon adenocarcinoma cells with no significant effects on cell migration and invasion (647.24). The FASEB Journal, 28(1 Supplement), 647-24.
García-Ruiz, A., de Llano, D. G., Esteban-Fernández, A., Requena, T., Bartolomé, B., & Moreno-Arribas, M. V. (2014). Assessment of probiotic properties in lactic acid bacteria isolated from wine. Food microbiology, 44, 220-225.
Wells, J. M., Rossi, O., Meijerink, M., & van Baarlen, P. (2011). Epithelial crosstalk at the microbiota–mucosal interface. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(Supplement 1), 4607-4614.