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Are Probiotic Foods Stronger Than Supplements?


Part of the secret to a healthy body is to eat probiotic foods and let the food fight it out inside.Donna

Many people wonder if probiotic pills provide the same benefit as probiotic foods since they seem to be marketed in the same way—healthy bacteria for our guts. However, probiotic foods work significantly better because of their construction. To get into the small intestine and colon, where they do the work of breaking down and processing food and powering up the immune system, the bacteria first have to move through the stomach; but the stomach is filled with acid designed to kill bacteria. When you eat a probiotic food, the food itself provides a protective armor that helps shield the friendly bacteria. It also speeds the transport out of the stomach, thus keeping the good bacteria intact. Probiotic pills are often trapped in the acids of the stomach, and the probiotics are killed before the body ever gets a chance to use them. So consuming probiotic foods such as kefir, kombucha, and cultured vegetables is way more effective than taking pills.

stronger than supplements

Cultured Veggies

Dr. Mercola, from Mercola.com, stated, “Fermented foods not only give you a wider variety of beneficial bacteria, they also give you far more of them, so it’s a much more cost-effective alternative. Here’s a case in point: It’s unusual to find a probiotic supplement containing more than 10 billion colony-forming units. But when my team actually tested fermented vegetables produced by probiotic starter cultures, they had 10 trillion colony-forming units of bacteria. Literally, one serving of vegetables was equal to an entire bottle of a high potency probiotic! 1 So clearly, you’re far better off using fermented foods.”


Kefir Grains contain billions of bacteria. It was shocking to me how different I felt when I switched from probiotic supplements to kefir. I noticed within a day that something was happening inside of me, and in less than a month I was free from diabetes and high blood pressure. I was convinced and began to tell my friends. I watched as person after person with different ailments got better from everything you could imagine.

The main polysaccharide in kefir grains is kefiran, which is a heteropolysaccharide composed of equal proportions of glucose and galactose and is produced by the many strains of lactobacillus in kefir grains. Kefiran has antitumor, antifungal, and antibacterial properties and can help regulate the immune system in a powerful way.2

A professor of microbiology at the University of Florida was a regular consumer of goat milk kefir and decided to have his class test the kefir he drank from Glades Ridge Goat Dairy Farm. Testing showed 10 billion CFU (colony forming units) per ml! 3 More testing is being done on different milks using kefir grains. but this is quite impressive.

Easy Kefir Powder which is made from kefir grains (using whole dairy milk) has been tested to contain over 3 billion live bacteria and over 50,000 lactic yeasts per gram. The kefir made with it will typically contain +/- 1 billion active bacteria and +/- 10,000 lactic yeasts per gram or ml.

Cultured foods are inexpensive

You really need to try it and see for yourself just how different you feel while eating probiotic foods. Don’t you always find that homemade foods are better for you? Well, these foods are no exception. While I believe there are a lot of really good probiotic foods selling in health food stores, you never know how long they’ve been there and the longer they sit, the fewer probiotics you will receive. I took probiotic pills for years and found very little change in my health. Contrast this with adding cultured foods to my diet and the results were dramatic. I started to feel alive inside and health problems began to vanish. The money I spent on probiotic pills was more than I care to recall. Cultured foods are inexpensive, more potent than pills, and the logical way the body wants to receive these beneficial bugs. I tried the supplemental route, but then I found cultured foods; and well, the rest . . . is history.

Check out this video to see how probiotics work in your gut

How to Make Kefir

How to Make Veggies

48 Responses to "Are Probiotic Foods Stronger Than Supplements?"
  1. Less than a week ago, I made beet kvass using kefir whey and celtic sea salt; After the recommended 2 days on the counter (screw on lid), it tasted so weak, I added more whey and let it sit another two days. When I checked it, there was a very small green mold circle on the top of one jar. (The beets were still at the bottom); I have since put them in the frig; Are they ‘ruined’?

  2. Hi Donna, I am so excited to have found you! Just this past Valentine’s Day I ended up at Urgent Care b/c of abdominal pain. (Great way to celebrate Valentine’s!) The doc said it’s gastritis and gave me prilosec. I have hashimotos and had a thyroidectomy, since then have always had a very sensitive tummy. The days after my last visit to the doc I read everything I could about healing the gut. I learned about making kefir and tried it. Within two days I was feeling better and stopped the prilosec. I think kefir is my healer! I know I’m still so new to all this but for the first time in a long time I have hope that my body will be strong again. I ordered your book and can’t wait to get it! I have one question for you…do you ever have to take digestive enzymes with meals? I still do and wonder if the fermented foods I eat might eliminate that for me. Also the probiotic pills, gallbladder supplements, etc. I am just so grateful for the healing power of food. It is a prayer answered for me. Grateful to God for you and your story and mission to help others. Thank you and God bless you!

    • You can take enzymes however the cultured foods contain all the enzymes you need to digest your food and any food you eat with it. Love your story!! thanks so much for sharing. Kefir is my healer too. 🙂

  3. Hi Donna: I am a newbe, I started making Kefir, purchased from Dom, about 6 weeks now, the Kefir has been very nice, also I have made cheese, after purchasing store bought Kambucha and fermented veggies I will be making my own, the Trilogy has really cured my constipation of many many years, thank you so much for the information on your website, you are making a massive contribution to the well being of many.

  4. I recently made two batches of kefir cheese (turned them into onion dip – yum!) and now I have quite a bit of whey left over. Do you have any suggestions for how to use it before it goes bad? (Does it go bad?)

    • You can use the whey in any type of recipe that calls for a liquid. You can also use it to make kefir soda.

  5. Hi Donna, I made your Apple Kraut the other day and halved the recipe so I could put it in quart jars. I forgot to half the salt however…will it be too salty? Celtic salt seems really strong?

    • It might taste a little bit saltier than otherwise, but the sweetness of the apples will help with that. I think it will still taste great!

  6. How much would you consider an adequate portion of sauerkraut for daily consumption? I like the taste of it but wasn’t sure if I was eating too much or too little to gain the best benefits.

  7. Hi Donna

    I live in Brisbane, Australia and have been following your website for a while now. I would like to say thank-you so much for sharing all the wonderful information you know about wellness with others. I have bought your book and make the trilogy and variations of – everyday. I was diagnosed with an Orthostatic Intolerance which effects the autonomic nervous system and believe that our food is so critical to our wellbeing. Thanks for being a shining star, inspiring others and sharing all your knowledge 🙂

  8. I have been making your cultured vegetables for about two months now. I love them; they are an Integral part of my very restricted diet. The MDs said I had a bowel blockage, did exploratory surgery and found nothing. But they almost killed me. I’m trying to regain strength.
    Besides the cultured vegetables, which I will never give up, I also take probiotics. I am wondering if it is possible to put probiotics into an enema, thus avoiding stomach acid. Do you know the answer to this? Thank you for your wonderful guidance – and recipes, too! God bless you.

    • Carolyn: Keep making your cultured vegetables, I have been making Kefir for just over a month now and following Donna’s suggestion I have been taking the Kefir along with store bought Kambucha and fermented veggies, I suffered for years with some form of constipation or other, since taking the “Trilogy” I need nothing more, keep at it and your digestive issues with greatly diminish and eventually will disappear.

  9. Donna…I am a long time follower. Can I use the whey/juice from my sourkrat to make another jar of sourkrat? Thanks

    • Yes you can do this and try to use it within a few weeks of making the initial batch. About 1/2 cup of brine will inoculation another batch.

  10. When making cultured veggies, most of your recipes call for the starter or keifer whey… I am wondering if yogurt whey will work??? I am new to this and want to try it but am skeptical about spending too much money before I know if I like it. Thank you!

  11. Hi Donna! I would like to know what dish it is that is shown at the top of this page with the strawberries and bananas? It looks totally delish!

  12. Thank you so much for this information. I have IBD and a history of SIBO. I’ve been making 24 hour yogurt with probiotics, but am not getting enough benefit. Is water kefir a better option? How would you compare the two? How much should I drink each day? I am also taking 5 days of xifaxan every 3-4 weeks to combat the SIBO and eating a low fodmap diet. Any help is appreciated! I am so tired of the gas and bloating! Thank you.

  13. Hello, I’m so happy to have come across your page during my incessant research on probiotics. I have just started giving my 3 yr old non-verbal son (who was diagnosed with autism at age 2) a small cup of store bought kefir milk daily to aid with constipation issues. I was hopeful to read that it may actually help alleviate some of his autism behaviors. I am unsure as to how much I should be giving him (if even daily). Would you have any experience with this? I wouldn’t want to cause him any distress by giving him too much. So far, it gas been helping his bowel issue. Is store bought milk kefir as good as the homemade kefir? (I’m using Lifeway brand because it is flavored and he will actually drink it). Please help with a response if you can!

    • You can give it to him everyday and a small cup is good and you can increase it over time to more. Homemade is much stronger with many more strains of good bacteria in it.

  14. Hi Donna,
    So glad to have found you and your work! Can you talk briefly on whether cultured foods can be eaten warm or cooked without destroying the happy flora? 😉

  15. Can I ask about die-off effects? I get small patches of skin that itch, then it goes away pretty quick. HOWEVER, a friend who is 400 lbs started with kefir and was drinking about a quart a day. He is itching all over right now, but worse yet, he is diabetic and his feet have burst open and are oozing. I told him to stop the kefir until further notice! When we get this under control, then he can maybe start with an 8 oz glass a day?

    Also, these tomatoes are really fizzy – and I remember you saying that you eat cultured foods from each category before 1pm. Can I ask why? I was wondering if all this fizzy stuff for dinner might make for an uncomfortable night?? I am about to find out!

  16. Hi Donna, I am looking at buying some water kefir grains for my family. I am currently taking probiotics and both my daughters are too. I am breastfeeding my 8 month old (and topping up with formula) and I have a 3 year old who is taking a probiotic too. My questions are, is it safe for me to take while breastfeeding? and do myself and my daughters have to keep taking the supplements once I start us with the kefir? What amount of water kefir should we be having per day? I don’t want to go over the top!
    many thanks for your help!

    • You can start when your breast feeding but go slowly in the beginning. Once your daughters consume cultured foods you won’t need the supplements. I would encourage you to try the other cultured foods like milk kefir, and cultured vegetables too as they contain more probiotics than water kefir and are much more potent.

  17. Hi Donna – Wonderful article. My dogs are on a high potency pet grade probiotic. One has a systemic yeast problem and I wonder how much cultured veggies should he take in replacement? He weighs 25lbs and is already on 1/2 cup of kefir milk daily. I only know how to make sauerkraut now. Thanks!

  18. Hi Donna, I had a test done which showed I have an infection of lactobacillus. Do you know which cultured foods do not produce lactobacillus? I am guessing anything to do with milk such as kefir would. Is there a way of finding out what foods produce what bacteria? Thanks, Wendy

  19. Hi Donna, I just started following your blog and am getting a lot out of it. I was recently diagnosed with cirrhosis that was caused by me taking an herbal product for insomnia (called jinbuhuan – stay away from it!) for over 10 years, not knowing that it has been banned in Canada because it can cause liver and nerve damage. So I’m now very careful about what I put into my body. I was wondering if cultured foods have any alcohol content at all…if so, I guess I should stay away from them. Thanks for any advice!

  20. This article is so very timely for me! I started researching fermented foods in the hopes of being able to stop my auto-fill subscription for Dr. Mercola’s probiotics. I feel much better having been on them now for a year but they are so expensive! I’m hoping to get started making all the wonderful things you promote on your website and be able to take fewer supplements in the long term. I’ve already replaced my ALA supplements by incorporating flaxseed meal into my oatbran Gillettes I make for breakfast every morning.

    Thank you for all the wonderful information you provide for us. It is truly priceless and no words can adequately describe my appreciation.

  21. Hi Donna! Thank you for this post. Do you have an opinion about consuming kombucha, kefir, cultured
    veggies if one has an autoimmune condition? I have read alot of contradicting info that if a person has an autoimmune condition, or even gut dysbiosis, that fermented foods/drinks can aggravate these conditions, due to the yeast or other issues? Just so confusing when this seems like a “natural” viable option towards health… Confused! Thank you!

    • Lots of time when they are talking about fermented foods they are not talking about raw ones but ones made with vinegar which are completely different. Lacto fermented or cultured foods kill bad and harmful yeast and accelerate healing of these conditions.

  22. Thank you for all of the research and information. I have followed Dr. Mercola for several years. It is great to have more conformation from you. My husband and I are 75 and 77 yrs. Because of Dr. Mercola’s web site and information we have never taken statin drugs and have incorporated so much of his knowledge into our health practices. Your site and encouragement has been a big blessing.
    Thank you,

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