The World’s Best Probiotics
Probiotics, helpful bacteria that live in our digestive systems, have recently been shown to be helpful in overcoming disease. At the very least, a healthy biome in your digestive tract means that the bacteria aid in efficient digestion, getting every last nutrient the food has to offer. When the term probiotics comes up people either think of taking a pill, or eating yogurt. I am going to talk to you about a much better way to get probiotics. Not only is it better I think you’ll enjoy it immensely. Probiotic bacteria naturally come from eating fermented food. Yogurt is a fermented food, but then so are things like brine pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh and kombucha. I didn’t list one of the top fermented foods, natto, because it’s just plain nasty. I can stomach a lot of things but not natto, fermented soy beans.
There are all kinds of fermented foods. Most people think about alcoholic beverages when they think of fermentation but many kinds of foods have been fermented for thousands of years in order to preserve them. When foods ferment bacteria forms and if the right bacteria forms the foods will preserve for long periods of time. When the wrong bacteria forms you usually end up with mush. I know, I’ve ruined a few perfectly good cucumbers that way. When foods are fermented with the bacteria, Lactobacillus, the process is known as lacto-fermentation. Lactobacillus is a probiotic.
Lacto-fermenting food sounds difficult but it’s really not and can make a fun Saturday afternoon thing to do with the kids or grandkids. If you have never tried this before and you like kimchi, I suggest you start with that. I’ve never had a bad kimchi and it is so good for you. According to the Global Healing Center website, kimchi has the following properties: “...it contributes to colon health, lower cholesterol, better thinking, a stronger immune system, healthy skin, and weight loss. Additional research also shows it has anti-oxidative, anti-aging, and immune-supporting properties.” There are quite a number of YouTube video guides for making kimchi, or for that matter any other kind of lacto-fermented foods. Not all kimchi uses red pepper. In fact, the original kimchi had no red pepper because these peppers came from the Americas much later. The original kimchi were fermented radishes.
Lacto-fermented pickles are my absolute favorite. They were my favorite long before I even knew they were lacto-fermented. I always just thought of them as the kind you can only get in a good delicatessen. Today, most cucumber pickles are actually “soured” cucumbers and not really fermented. They are preserved in vinegar. One off-the-shelf brand of pickles that uses lacto-fermentation is Bubbies. The first time I tried Bubbies I opened the jar and it started fizzing and bubbling. I immediately called Bubbies and they said, “Oh you got a good one.” I could go on and on about pickles because I love them, but I won’t. They are just a very tasty source of probiotic bacteria.
Yogurt and Kefir
I have a yogurt maker at home. You can buy little packets of starter. You heat the milk, then put it in the yogurt maker and the next day you have wonderful yogurt. I strongly recommend whole milk. I will save that tirade for another day. If you want to make sure you are getting any probiotic benefit you pretty much have to make your own yogurt at home.
Making your own yogurt means that you don’t get all the added sugar that is standard for most yogurt brands, even those that claim to be healthy. Also, because yogurt is a milk product it is required by law to be pasteurized. The milk is pasteurized, or heated to the point where all bacteria, both beneficial and harmful are killed off. After fermenting, the yogurt is again pasteurized. It kind of defeats the purpose. Some yogurt makers will add bacteria to their products after the second pasteurization process so that their yogurts actually provide probiotic bacteria. But, these bacteria rarely, if ever, come from the natural fermentation process. I’m not saying that added bacteria provides any less of a benefit from naturally grown bacteria. I’m just passing on the info. Which is what I do.
Supporting your gut flora
I wrote another article on the benefits of dietary fiber. You can read it here: http://livealonger.life/dietary_fiber Soluble fiber is like food for the good bacteria that live in your gut. Without it, competing against the bad bacteria becomes difficult and soon there is an imbalance in your intestinal flora. Researchers say that this imbalance is the root of a lot of the diseases we suffer.
Eat foods like beans, oats, brussel sprouts, oranges and flaxseeds. These foods provide a high content of soluble fiber that support your beneficial bacteria. You can also take a supplement. There are many soluble fiber products on the market and many of them contain acacia, one of the best soluble fibers you can get from a supplement.
Summing it all up
Lacto-fermentation is a fun and effective way to get more probiotics into your diet. Sure, many forms of yogurt are good, but add a bit of character to your meals by serving sauerkraut. Eat a wonderful fermented pickle with your lunch. These are all great ways to boost health gut flora. Once you have them keep them healthy by making sure you eat plenty of soluble fiber. Most of all, enjoy these fine fermented foods. Just to get you started watch this YouTube video on making your own dill pickles. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QSka--PAcoI
As always, live longer,