Probiotics. Have you heard of them before? Maybe you've seen Jamie Lee Curtis promoting a brand of yogurt to help fix your tummy troubles? Or maybe you've come across the giant refrigerated wall of kombucha bottles when leaving Whole Foods. Even if you've never heard of probiotics, your body is quite familiar with them.
YOUR BODY IS HOST TO OVER 100 TRILLION BACTERIA, MOST OF THEM GOOD BACTERIA, THAT PRIMARILY LIVE IN YOUR DIGESTIVE SYSTEM.
Those good bacteria are called probiotics and they help keep your gut's bacterial environment in balance. Probiotics have an important job: making sure the good bacteria outnumber the bad bacteria. Why is that job so important? Well, when the bad bacteria take control, nasty things can happen: diarrhea, gas & bloating, and infections of the urinary or vaginal tract.
WANT TO KNOW THE EASIEST (AND CHEAPEST!) WAY TO INCREASE YOUR PROBIOTIC LOAD? EAT FERMENTED FOODS!
When foods are fermented using traditional methods, they create lactic acid as a byproduct. Lactic acid bacteria are the most populous group of bacteria in the intestines, with the most famous strain being Lactobacillus acidophilus (found in yogurt). Incorporating more of these foods in your diet is an easy, cheap, and delicious way to help keep your digestive system functioning properly.
MY TOP 5 FERMENTED FOODS FOR A HEALTHY GUT:
Rejuvalac. Rejuvalac is the fermented liquid byproduct of sprouting grains. While it is traditionally made using barley, I use quinoa when I make it at home in order to keep it gluten-free. It has a light effervescence and lemony tang that I love. In order to reduce any waste, I like to use the sprouted quinoa by mixing it in to my salads or soups. Similar to kombucha, it is best to start slow and limit your intake to a half-cup of rejuvalac for a few days before guzzling it all down.
Miso comes in a variety of colors and flavors. Sweet white miso is more subtle in flavor while red miso is bold and tangy.
Miso. Most people are familiar with miso, a paste made of fermented soy beans, because miso soup is a common first course at Japanese restaurants. While miso soup is a delicious and comforting way to incorporate live cultured foods into your diet, my favorite way to use miso is mixed with tahini (sesame seed paste), lemon juice, and minced garlic to make a flavorful spread for crackers or dip for cut up veggies.
Sour pickes. Sour pickles remind me of my childhood. Some family friends would make giant batchs of pickles every year and always bring a quart sized mason jar of pickles with them every time they joined us for dinner. To this day I can still snack on sour pickles all evening long instead of eating dinner. (Hey, no one's perfect!)
Kimchi. Kimchi is sauerkraut's spicy Korean cousin. Traditionally fermented in jars that have been burried into the ground, kimchi is a cabbage that has been slathered with garlic, ginger, and chili paste. The end result is tangy and spicy and delicious when used as a garnish on just about anything.
Beet kvass. If you've been following my blog, you already know that I'm a big fan of beet kvass. Not only is it a tangy and colorful source of probiotics, but it can also be diluted down and used as an electrolyte replacement drink. I plan on drinking some while riding the MS150 fundraiser ridefrom Duluth to the Twin Cities. Here's a recipe to make your own.
Want to know more about home fermentation and try your hand at it? I promise it is super easy and way cheaper than buying artisan fermented veggies at your local natural foods store. Sandor Katz's book, Wild Fermentation,contains tons of information, anecdotes, science, and of course, recipes. It is what I used to get started with fermentation and I highly recommend it.
Want to know more about probiotics? The Whole 9 blog has a great post on Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Probiotics.
What are your favorite fermented foods?
**The information provided on this site is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.
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