You Should Consume These 10 Probiotic Foods if You Want a Healthy Gut
Our digestive system is home to roughly 100 trillion bacteria. A balance between good and bad gut bacteria in the intestine is important for health. Recent studies found that the imbalance of gut bacteria types may play a role in the development of obesity, metabolic syndrome, certain cancers or even some mental disorders! Probiotics are live microorganisms that give health benefits when they are at the right place. Bacteria that are beneficial on our skin might be harmful when they are in our gut. Now, let’s take a look at the 10 common food sources that can transport the good bacteria into our gut.
Yogurt is produced by fermentation of milk by bacteria. Besides the nutrients in milk, yogurt has live bacteria to nourish your gut too. When choosing yogurt, opt for unflavoured or unsweetened yogurt that contains “live and active cultures”. Feel free to top it with fresh fruits and nuts of your choice that not only add texture, excitement, colours, but also provide the fibre to feed the gut bacteria.
Tempeh or soy cake traditionally originated from Indonesia. It is produced by the bacterial fermentation of soybeans that binds the soybeans into cake form, hence its name as soy cake. Unlike its “brother” - tofu, tempeh is made from whole soybeans. Therefore, it contains higher dietary fibre and nutrients. When cooked, it has exquisite meaty, nutty and mushroom-like flavour. Try replacing meat with tempeh in your dishes to obtain the goodness of tempeh.
Miso soup / Natto
Every country will have its own fermentation methods to preserve foods in the olden days before the refrigerator is invented. In Japan, miso and natto are the famous fermented soy foods. Miso is a seasoning produced by fermenting soybeans with salt and a special fungus. The resulting thick paste can be used as a sauce, spread, pickling ingredient or making into miso soup. It is high in protein, vitamins, minerals and probiotics. However, as it is high in salt content, do take it in moderation with a low-salt diet.
Natto is made from bacterial fermentation of soybeans as well, but with different bacteria, naturally found in rice straw. Thus, natto is traditionally fermented with rice straw. Not everyone can accept natto owing to its distinctive smell, strong flavour and slimy texture.
Kimchi is the famous fermented staple food that Koreans enjoy serving with all sorts of foods. It is usually made from the bacterial fermentation of 2 nutritious foods, namely napa cabbage and Korean radish, together with salt and variety of seasonings. To control the salt intake, try to reduce or refrain from adding salt or other sauces when kimchi is used as one of the food ingredients. Alternatively, simply enjoy kimchi with a low-salt diet.
Kefir is a fermented milk drink that originated in the exotic Caucasus Mountains located at the border of Europe and Asia. made by mixing cow, goat, or sheep milk with kefir grains; a yeast or bacterial fermentation starter. It has a thick and creamy texture, tangy flavour, similar to yogurt. Enjoy it by making it into milk shakes with your favourite fruits.
Instead of the ordinary bread that you might be taking as breakfast, you may try switching to sourdough bread to start off your day with a healthy dose of probiotics. Authentic sourdough bread is made from a sourdough starter, which contains yeast cultures and bacteria that arise naturally in bread flour and dough through the fermentation process.
Looking for foods to serve with your bread? Why not trying some probiotic-packed cheese? Cottage cheeses, Gouda, some cheddars and parmesan can be your perfect choice! The bacteria in these cheeses are all strong enough get through your stomach and nourish your gut flora.
Originated from Germany, sauerkraut is the result of fermentation of finely cut cabbage with various lactic acid bacteria. It has a unique sour flavour contributed by the lactic acid that forms when the bacteria ferment the sugars in the cabbage.
Milk with Probiotics
Milk with probiotics is produced by fermentation of milk with bacteria. It is usually labeled as sweet acidophilus milk. In addition, buttermilk is a milk with probiotics as well.
Now that you know the probiotic foods, try having them in variety and creative ways that you will enjoy in your daily diet. On top of that, practise a low-fat, low-salt, high-fiber diet, active lifestyle to keep your gut bacteria as strong as you too.
However, if you have a hectic, stressful life and you don’t have time for nutritious meals, or you simply can’t tolerate any fermented foods, supplementation may be a viable second option for you. In view of the emerging benefits of probiotics, there are more probiotic supplements available in the market now. When choosing a probiotic supplement, the types of bacterial strains, bacterial load and bacterial stability are the important factors to consider to ensure the probiotics that you are ingesting will survive through the acidic environment in the stomach, reaching the intestine where they can function and confer the health benefits. Charge your intestinal flora so that they will be your strong armies to prevent you from getting ill!