You may have been wondering what the kombucha hype is all about, and seriously, what the heck is tempeh anyway? Maybe you’ve heard of or seen probiotics before, but you don’t know why they’re important. It’s also possible you’ve consumed probiotics, maybe most of your life, and didn’t realize.
Our bodies contain around 100 trillion microbes, most of them bacteria, and some beneficial bacteria. Probiotics are the good bacteria. These living organisms reside in our colons and small intestine. They keep our guts clean, aid in digestion and add bulk to solid wastes. Probiotics also fight disease-causing microbes, and can help with health problems like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), infectious diarrhea, and antibiotic-related diarrhea (webmd). Probiotics are important to take while on antibiotics, since antibiotics cause a loss of healthy bacteria.
Stress or poor diet might reduce the numbers of healthy bacteria in the small intestine as well, and vice versa, a lack of healthy bacteria has shown to trigger feelings of depression and anxiety when there’s an imbalance within the gut (beginwithnutrition).
There are different types of probiotics and various ways to consume them, either through supplements or through various foods. Skip the supplements and experiment with eating some of the following foods:
Yogurt- Yogurt is made from fermented milk using certain bacteria, but only types labeled as containing live bacteria (“active cultures”) are actually probiotic.
Kefir- Similar to yogurt and contains sometimes up to ten diverse strains of good bacteria. It’s fermented using a combination of bacteria and yeast with milk proteins and complex sugars. Made from cow’s milk, goat’s milk, sheep’s milk, coconut milk, soy milk, or rice milk. Kefir is a good choice if you’re lactose intolerant, because the lactose it once contained is broken down through fermentation.
Buttermilk– Made with strains of lactic acid-making bacteria added to regular pasteurized milk.
Raw Milk- Maybe only five states in the U.S. actually allow the sale of raw milk and there are debated health risks, but raw milk drinkers swear by the stuff because of all the good bacteria.
Soy Milk- Must say “contains active cultures” on the label.
Dark Chocolate- Certain types of high-quality chocolate contain probiotics. Dark chocolate is also a source of antioxidants!
Miso- A staple of Japanese cuisine, miso is made with fermented soy, barley, wheat, or rice with a fungus that produces a red, white, or dark brown salty paste. When cooking with miso, add it to hot foods at the end of cooking to preserve the probiotic cultures as much as possible.
Tempeh- High in proteins and minerals, tempeh also promotes intestinal health. Tempeh originates in Indonesia and is made with cooked soybeans and an added fungus culture. It’s then fermented into a thick, meaty block.
Natto- Made from fermented soybeans with a distinctive flavor, smell, and sticky texture. Also a stap
le of the Japanese diet.
Kimchi- A pickled Chinese dish of cabbage, eggplant, or other vegetables fermented with red chili and other spices for at least a month. Kimchi is full of fiber, vitamins, iron, and various types of probiotic bacteria.
Sauerkraut- German for “sour cabbage,” sauerkraut is made from fermented, finely shredded, salty cabbage and contains a variety of heathy bacteria. Buy fresh sauerkraut that contains lives cultures, versus some commercial brands of sauerkraut.
Pickles- These crunchy treats contain lots of probiotics.
Kombucha Tea- This Asian drink restores energy and aids digestion.
Olives- Olives in brine are probiotics, because the brine allows probiotics to survive and thrive.