June 04, 2014
Recent research shows a diverse population of intestinal bacteria is essential for good health. In an effort to improve the quantity and diversity of their own personal microbiota, many health-conscious people are exploring the wild and unpredictable world of at-home fermentation.
One hundred fifty years ago, Louis Pasteur figured out how to isolate a microorganism. His discovery led to the germ theory of disease and pasteurization, both of which saved countless lives. Winning the battle against bacteria was essential for the development of modern medicine and large-scale food production.
In the years that followed, armed with antibiotics and antibacterial soap, we’ve waged war on bacteria. In the process, we’ve reduced the number and diversity of our gut flora—the trillions of microorganisms that live in our intestines.
Unlike a hospital operating room, our bodies are not sterile environments. We are a delicate ecosystem: remove one element and everything is thrown out of balance.
As scientists discover the importance of a well-rounded population of gut bacteria, people have become interested in how to improve the quality of their gut microbiota. Many rely on probiotics, either in commercially made yogurt or through supplements, but there’s a growing interest in at-home fermentation to access friendly bacteria not available in the store.
Given the mounting evidence that the right mix of bacteria in your gut is essential for good health, what’s the best approach to make sure your innards are in tip-top shape?