The Surprising Benefits of Heat Killed Bacteria

What to kraut

I administrate a Facebook group called Fermenting: Healing Through Food and, today, someone asked if heating sauerkraut destroyed the pro-biotics. I had always heard this was true, but thought I’d google for an actual temperature to share with her, in case she wanted to try to learn how to enjoy her kraut at less than hot temperatures.

What I found really surprised me.

Some might argue that dead bacteria are better than live.

Lots of research suggests that the benefits of probiotics are from the dead bodies of the bacteria, not the living colonies they are thought to form. Veterinarians have used “heat-killed Lactobacilus” for farm animal probiotic support for years. Only recently has the FDA approved the use of heat-killed bacteria for human probiotics.

In other words, heating may kill the bacteria, but that might actually be better than eating them live.

Further reading:

The little bit I understood of the science in these three articles suggested I shouldn’t be so fussed about not heating my ferments sometimes, because it’s apparently giving me some immune benefits I hadn’t considered. Neat!


If you’re interested in Fermenting: Healing Through Food, request to join and I’ll add you to the member list.

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