It’s fascinating to think that about 100 trillion bacteria consider your gut home. While a lot of this bacteria is welcome, some are guests that seem to believe it’s all good to have a raging, rock-star party in there…it’s these ‘bad’ guys who are not so welcome in large quantities! By making healthy dietary choices, we can help to improve the ratio of good to bad bacteria to ensure we avoid digestive disturbances such as bloating, excess flatulence, cramping, and indigestion. One of the easiest ways to ensure the good guys dominate residence in our gut, is to make a point of eating foods that contain probiotics (various types of healthy bacteria) to help keep the gastrointestinal tract healthy. Adding the five foods and drinks below into your diet can help to ensure the good gut guys can keep doing their part to help improve your health and beat the bloat…
Sauerkraut/Kim Chi – Sauerkraut and Kim Chi are quite simply, fermented cabbage. They’re made by an age-old technique called lactic fermentation. The necessary bacteria and yeasts are naturally present on cabbage leaves, and when salt is added, it starts the fermentation process. During the fermentation process, beneficial bacteria (or “live bacteria”) is produced such as lactobacillus bacteria. This bacteria is extremely beneficial to help increase the healthy flora in the intestinal tract.
Yoghurt – Traditional probiotic yogurt is made from dairy that’s fermented into a creamy food packed with beneficial probiotics. Probiotics in yogurt stimulate healthy digestive function, and help your body to produce vitamin B12 and K. Yoghurt is one of the easiest and cheapest probiotic foods to include into your daily diet!
Miso – Miso paste is made from fermented soybeans and grains and contains millions of beneficial bacteria. The century-old traditional fermentation process means that miso is not only rich in beneficial bacteria but also enzymes that further enhance digestion. The probiotics in miso are believed to help a wide range of health issues and it is especially good for optimizing digestion, absorption, and assimilation of nutrients.
Kefir – Kefir is a cultured, fermented milk drink. It is somewhat similar to yogurt – but in a lighter, drink form and with a tart more sour taste. It also has a slight ‘fizz’ taste/sensation that is due to carbon dioxide – the end product of the fermentation process. Milk kefir is made from either a mother culture called “Milk Kefir Grains” or a powdered culture starter designed specifically for making kefir. The grains or powder are placed in a glass jar, soaked in milk, covered and left at room temperature for a minimum of 24 hours. In this time, the bacteria and yeast ferment the natural sugar in milk (lactose) into lactic acid, which activates the bacteria to proliferate and grow. Kefir grains contain around 30 strains of beneficial bacteria. The bacteria strain called “Lactobacillus kefir” is unique to kefir and studies have shown it may inhibit the growth of some harmful bacteria such as e-coli and salmonella.
Tempeh – A great vegetarian substitute for meat, tempeh is a fermented, probiotic-rich meat-type textured grain made from soybeans. Due to the fact that it is a fermented form of soy, it is generally believed to be a healthier protein source for vegetarians than unfermented tofu.
You’re likely already consuming yogurt (even vegan coconut yoghurt contains probiotics!) but consider adding some of the other probiotic-rich foods above to ensure your bacteria buddies are all happy campers, doing their job well!
It’s important to remember that in order to support the growth of probiotic bacteria, it’s necessary to also consume foods known as prebiotics. Prebiotics are a form of dietary fiber that essentially acts like a fertilizer for the good bacteria in your gut to proliferate.Prebiotic foods naturally contain lots of soluble fibre, such as bananas, garlic, asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes, leeks and onions.