Joy McCarthy, RNCP, CNP
A: Protein is incredibly important for everyone. Like carbohydrates and fats, it’s a macronutrient your body needs to function optimally. The individual components that make up proteins, called amino acids, are the building blocks of every cell in your body, from bones to skin, from muscle to hair.
Unlike carbs and fats, your body doesn’t store protein, so you don’t have protein reserves to draw on when you need them. This makes ensuring you get enough protein from your diet important.
Some protein sources are easier for your body to absorb and use than others, and this is where fermented proteins come in.
Your gut is home to trillions of bacteria—some beneficial and some harmful. Following a course of antibiotics, the number of good bacteria can be reduced. As well, consuming too many processed foods or too much alcohol may also alter the balance of gut microbes.
Fermented foods and probiotics promote the growth of good bacteria, improving intestinal tract health, enhancing the immune system, and possibly reducing the risk of certain cancers. These bacteria help break food down into its tiniest components, including those amino acids found in protein, as well as essential micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals.
When brown rice (the food usually used as the base of fermented protein powders) is fermented, its bioavailability increases to a level comparable to whey protein isolate, which is usually considered the gold standard of protein supplements. But unlike whey, plant-based fermented protein powders are hypoallergenic and much less likely to trigger food sensitivities.
So go ahead and give fermented protein powders a try. Your gut will probably thank you in the long run.