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The human body has more bacterial cells that human cells and a large part of these live in the digestive system. New research is constantly showing the relationship of gut bacteria to many aspects of health. Unfortunately, the modern diet is largely deficient in foods that nourish this gut bacteria in a healthy way since many foods are pasteurized, irradiated or created in a sterile lab.
The balance of bacteria in the gut is important for immune health, hormone balance and many other aspects of wellness. Many of the foods that are most often consumed these days are high in sugar, processed grains, vegetable oils and foods that often let the “bad” bacteria grow more than they should.
Adding probiotic-rich foods and drinks to the diet is an easy way to give gut bacteria a boost and to keep the digestive system in proper balance. Here are five easy ways to consume more probiotics:
1. Make Some Kraut
Think you don’t like sauerkraut? You probably have just never had a traditionally made sauerkraut. Unlike canned and store-bought options, traditional sauerkraut is crispy, salty and delicious.
You can make it on your kitchen counter for the cost of some cabbage and it is a great way to add vegetables and probiotics to your diet. Almost any vegetable can be fermented and books like Wild Fermentation and Nourishing Traditions have a lot of great recipes.
Click here to see my recipe for delicious homemade sauerkraut.
2. Or Some Kvass…
Like sauerkraut, Kvass is a naturally fermented and probiotic-rich drink with other health-boosting properties. Nourishing Traditions explains that it is:
“valuable for its medicinal qualities and as a digestive aid. Beets are loaded with nutrients. One glass morning and night is an excellent blood tonic, promotes regularity, aids digestion, alkalizes the blood, cleanses the liver and is a good treatment for kidney stones and other ailments.”
We drink Kvass and use it in salad dressings. I sometimes mix Kvass with slightly cooled broth for a warm drink.
Here is the recipe for Beet Kvass.
3. Water Kefir “Soda”
The kids’ favorite way to consume probiotics is in the form of Water Kefir “Soda.” Water Kefir is made by using a natural colony of beneficial yeast and bacteria to ferment a sugar water solution.
The bacteria consumes the sugar in the water and in the process creates probiotics and enzymes. If a secondary fermentation is done, the result is a naturally fizzy fermented probiotic drink that is reminiscent of a fruit soda. There are endless ways to customize water kefir soda flavors.
Water Kefir is dairy free and easy to make on the kitchen counter. Click here for my full tutorial.
Kombucha has gained a lot of popularity lately and many stores now carry pre-bottled kombucha drinks. Kombucha contains a host of enzymes and probiotics and has a naturally tangy and fizzy taste. While I love store-bought versions, I’m not a fan of the $5/bottle price tag.
Kombucha is very simple to make at home and once you purchase a SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast) the cost per gallon is less than $2. This is another thing that is often sitting on our counter. I actually brew two different ways:
- Continuous brew in a large glass jar with a spigot
- Traditional brew in gallon glass jars
We always do a secondary ferment with some organic juice to get the natural carbonation and this homemade kombucha is definitely my favorite way to get probiotics. Click on the links above to see the recipes. I recommend finding someone local who can share a SCOBY if possible, or buying from Kombucha Kamp if you can’t find one near you.
5. Homemade Ginger Ale
Another favorite at our house is homemade ginger ale. This recipe uses a ginger “bug” made from fresh ginger, natural sugars and wild bacteria to create a beneficial colony of bacteria that is then used to ferment a strong ginger tea.
Unlike conventional soda which often contains high fructose corn syrup and artificial ingredients, this natural recipe combines the digestive benefits of fresh ginger with beneficial bacteria for a fizzy and refreshing “soda.”
If you haven’t already tried these fermented foods and drinks, I’d really encourage you to give them a try! Not only are they delicious, but full of health-boosting properties.
The suggestion to add probiotic rich fermented foods to my diet was one of the best pieces of health advice I’ve ever gotten. I HIGHLY recommend it!
What is the best food advice you’ve ever received? Ever fermented anything? Share below!
Discussion (58 Comments)
The best advice I received (recently) was to never eat anything that doesn’t rot.
And I think the best advice was hammered in pretty early on…don’t smoke! It’s easy to quit if you never stop. So I never have to worry about all the negative side effects or the cost involved!
The best advice I ever got was to give up grains. Not to sound like a kiss-up but before that point every piece of advice I’d been given followed right along with Conventional Wisdom.
The best advice I have ever gotten was to eat a lot of fats! It was really made a difference for me.
The best health advice I’ve received was in April of this year. It was to try the Paleo diet for 30 days (no grains, no refined sugars, no legumes, no dairy). Wow, what a difference in my energy level, motivation, and hormones! And the best part is I’m not taking any crazy supplements or drugs! I just have had to change how I cook and eat. I recommend giving it a try if you haven’t!
Our surgeon for my son suggested going grain free, and my Ob said even one glass of wine in early pregnancy can cause a miscarriage.
A piece of advice that has worked for me is: if I decide to eat sugar or processed foods (like the other day when I had a bit too much ice cream), just notice how I feel afterward. This is enough to remind me why I choose to eat a paleo-style diet and keeps me focused. (I signed up for the newsletter!)
My 94 year old grandma grows a huge veggie garden and cans and freezes for the whole year! She has her own milk cow, chickens, and beef. She makes everything from scratch and only goes to the Grocery store like once a month or less..impressive! She isn’t on any prescription meds and still gets around great!
I make the sauerkraut, super easy. We love the water kefir, super easy.
I have made Kombucha-but I have issue with it and hope you can help. I have been successful a couple times, but it has a vinegar taste. My friends kombucha is sweet. My last couple of attempts gave failed. The scoby did not grow a “baby”. It is so frustrating. Any insight ascyo why it would fail and/or be vinegar-ish?
That’s great! I hope to be like her someday!
The best advise I ever got was last year from a chiropractor, who said to check my vitamin D levels. I was sick 3-4 times a year with cold and chest congestions, my vitamin D turned out to be a 17, and needs to be like 50 or something 🙂 Now I take Vitamin D and haven’t been the least bit sick in over a year!
Fifteen minutes a day builds your vitamin D in the summer months works too. We all need more sunshine D.
Well, at this point I HOPE it’s to go Paleo and not CW nutritional standpoints. Time will tell but so far, I’m on board and anxious to learn all I can to make my own best decisions. I will say I had to Unsubscribe from all of my health newsletters (Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Shape Magazine blah blah blah << all nonsense) So, I think on I'm the right track I just have to keep my ears closed to most media outlets 🙂