One of the most important steps to take to reach optimal health is taking care of your digestive system. In fact, about 80 percent of your immune system rests inside your digestive tract. Microorganisms that live inside it are in charge of breaking down food molecules and absorbing nutrients for your bodily functions.
However, these microorganisms, also known as good bacteria, are not immune to bacteria coming from the foods you eat. In fact, by consuming processed foods, junk foods, soda, and foods rich in sugar and grains, your gut flora is compromised. They are harmed even more through smoking and consumption of alcohol.
The only way to remedy this damage is to adhere to a proper diet. It is also important to reseed your gut flora by eating fermented foods, which are rich in probiotics. Not only are these foods healthy, but they are tasty and easy to prepare.
Fermented Foods: The Richest Sources of Probiotics
Cultured foods have been a part of man’s staple diet for years. Roman and Bulgarian civilizations have consumed fermented vegetables and milk, while Asian countries consume these even today. Here is a list of some of the most common fermented foods you can eat to reseed your gut flora.
Civilizations have consumed yogurt for years. This snack is milk that has been fermented. It contains the bacterial strain Lactobacillus. Apart from fermenting your own yogurt, you may also purchase them in supermarkets. When you do so, you should make sure that it contains live bacteria strains. It should not be pasteurized. Pasteurization is a process that kills probiotics.
Kefir is an enzyme-rich beverage that has a texture and taste similar to that of yogurt. While kefir contains the bacteria species present in yogurt, it also contains other strains, such as Lactobacillus Caucasus, Leuconostoc, Acetobacter, and many others. Apart from being an abundant source of probiotics, kefir contains amino acids and other nutrients such as vitamin B12 and phosphorus. Kefir is very easy to make; starter kits are found in health food stores.
3. Fermented Vegetables
The process of fermentation was regarded as a means to preserve food. This method was seen in Asian countries. Foods often cultured were vegetables such as cabbage, cucumbers, beets, onions, garlic, and many others. Even today, fermented foods are delicacies in Asia and have spread as far as Europe.
Two of the most popular fermented vegetables are sauerkraut and kimchee. Sauerkraut is also rich is vitamin C and digestive enzymes, while kimchee contains vitamin A, C, and some B vitamins. The latter also has calcium and iron in it.
4. Fermented Soy
Many experts argue that soy contributes to less-than-optimal health because it contains anti-nutritive properties, such as phytic acid – which inhibits nutrient absorption. However, this is different for fermented soy. Rather than hinder nutrient absorption, fermented soy prevents the effects of phytic acid. It also promotes the reseeding of good bacteria.
Some popular cultured soy foods are natto, miso, and tempeh. Natto, which is popular in Japan, is a rich source of vitamin K2. Miso, also a Japanese favorite, is high in vitamin B12 and has zinc, copper, and manganese.
Certain types of aged cheese, like blue cheese and curd cheese, contain abundant amounts of probiotics in them. Some cheeses also contain other types of nutrients. Make sure that when you choose to consume fermented cheeses, they are not pasteurized or processed.
Of course, you may also opt to take probiotics supplements. These may come in pill, powder, or liquid form. The good thing about these is that you can take them with you when you travel.
All in all, eating more of these fermented foods can support your digestive function, which in turn works hard to protect your entire body.
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Guest Post by: Mishka Thomas is an aspiring cook who wishes to focus on creating healthy recipes, and a freelance writer. She is currently experimenting on fermented foods and is exploring the health benefits of the best probiotics. Apart from being a nutrition buff, Mishka is interested in sports and fitness. She works out at least three times a week and plays badminton with her friends.
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