Did you know that approximately 40 trillion bacteria live in your intestines? These bacteria, which are collectively termed gut microbiota, play a crucial role in your gut health. Some bacteria in the gut are good for our health while others are not. Scientists have discovered that maintaining the right balance is the key to keeping away certain diseases ranging from weight gain to acne to asthma. Probiotics are among the good bacteria found in your gut and aid in digestion as well as reducing inflammation. Luckily, you can get these healthy bacteria by eating certain diets that will improve your gut health. Here are some yummy probiotic-rich foods to enjoy while keeping your microbiome healthy, hence staying slim, lean and fit.
Kombucha is a type of fermented black tea that has been consumed for over 2,000 years. Its origin is Japan and its popularity has now spread to the whole world. It’s a probiotic-rich food that contains live bacteria and yeasts that are highly beneficial for your digestive system. Kombucha is also good for liver detoxification.
Kefir is a fermented dairy product similar to yogurt, although it has an acidic and tart flavor. Like Kombucha, kefir has also been around for thousands of years and has been known for its immense health benefits on the human body.
Kefir has more strains of probiotics than yogurt because it’s fermented with yeast and more bacteria. It makes a great choice for those who are lactose-intolerant and is usually made by adding kefir grains to goat’s or cow’s milk.
Yogurt is probably the best and well-known source of probiotics. It’s made through a process where milk is fermented with lactic acid and bifidobacteria, which are friendly bacteria. Eating yogurt is linked to dozens of health benefits, including lowering blood pressure, reducing diarrhea in children, especially if caused by antibiotics, and relieving symptoms of IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). However, you need to choose the yogurt you buy with care since not all of them contain healthy bacteria. Check for ‘active or live cultures’ on the label and avoid those packed with added sugars.
Sauerkraut dates back to the 4th B.C and is among the oldest traditional foods in Europe and many other countries. It is cabbage that has been fermented with lactic-acid bacteria and helps to maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in your digestive system. Sauerkraut has a sour distinct salty taste and can be used as a side dish or on top of sausages. Additionally, sauerkraut is a rich source of vitamins B, C, and K and also contains sodium, manganese, and iron.
Miso is a Japanese specialty that is not only used in soups but also as traditional medicine as a digestive regulator. It’s a Japanese seasoning made by fermenting soybeans, brown rice or barley and salt with koji, a type of fungus. When you go to any Japanese restaurant, you won’t miss miso soup, a favorite breakfast food. Miso comes in different varieties, including brown, yellow, white and red. Apart from being a good source of fiber, miso is also high in vitamins and minerals, which makes it highly beneficial to our overall health.
Tempeh is a fermented soybean that is originally from Indonesia. It’s a great choice for vegetarians and is a high-protein food. Tempeh is made by adding a tempeh starter to soybeans and then left aside for about two days. The end product forms a firm patty, more like a cake, and has a unique earthy and nutty taste, like that of a mushroom. Tempeh can be eaten raw, boiled, marinated, baked, sautéed, or grilled.
Kimchi is a veggie Korean side dish, usually made by mixing cabbage and a host of other spices like garlic, red pepper, ginger, onions, and fish sauce among others. The mixture is left to sit for about two weeks to form kimchi, which is full of probiotics. Some of its health benefits include lowering blood pressure, reducing constipation, boosting immunity, and may also help protect against cancer.
For most people, pickles mean pickled cucumbers although you can create pickles from almost any food. A cucumber pickle is a cucumber that has been pickled in brine (water mixed with salt or vinegar) or other solution and left to ferment for some time. Pickled cucumbers form a great source of probiotics, making them good for your gut health. They are low in calories but you’d want to limit consumption due to the high sodium levels. Some of the benefits of eating pickles include lowering the risk of certain cancers like colon cancer, preventing and treating allergies, and managing diabetes among others, although more research is needed for more conclusive results.
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