What are Probiotics
Probiotics are living microscopic organisms, or microorganisms, that scientific research has shown to benefit your health. Most often they are bacteria, but they may also be other organisms such as yeasts. In some cases they are similar, or the same, as the “good” bacteria already in your body, particularly those in your gut. These good bacteria are part of the trillions of microorganisms that inhabit our bodies. This community of microorganisms is called the microbiota. Some microbiota organisms can cause disease. However, others are necessary for good health and digestion.
The most common probiotic bacteria come from two groups, Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium, although it is important to remember that many other types of bacteria are also classified as probiotics. Each group of bacteria has different species and each species has different strains. This is important to remember because different strains have different benefits for different parts of your body. For example, Lactobacillus casei Shirota has been shown to support the immune system and to help food move through the gut, but Lactobacillus bulgaricus may help relieve symptoms of lactose intolerance, a condition in which people cannot digest the lactose found in most milk and dairy products. In general, not all probiotics are the same, and they don’t all work the same way.
Scientists are still sorting out exactly how probiotics work. They may:
- Boost your immune system by enhancing the production of antibodies to certain vaccines.
- Produce substances that prevent infection.
- Prevent harmful bacteria from attaching to the gut lining and growing there.
- Send signals to your cells to strengthen the mucus in your intestine and help it act as a barrier against infection.
- Inhibit or destroy toxins released by certain “bad” bacteria that can make you sick.
- Produce B vitamins necessary for metabolizing the food you eat, warding off anemia caused by deficiencies in B6 and B12, and maintaining healthy skin and a healthy nervous system.
Health Benefits of Probiotic Foods
According to neurologist Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride
“Every traditional culture, when you look at their traditional diet, they ferment their foods. They fermented everything. You can ferment dairy, grains, beans, vegetables, fruits, meats, and fish. Everything can be fermented, and there were fermented beverages in every culture. When the cabbages were ripe in September, you made it a fermented cabbage.
Perhaps for a month or two, you were eating fresh cabbage, but then for the rest of the year, 10 months of the year, you ate your cabbage in a fermented form. Quite a large percent of all the foods that people consume on a daily basis were fermented. And with every mouthful of these fermented foods you consume trillions of beneficial bacteria”
Fermented foods have been consumed for over 5000 years and even in the past 100 years certain cultures have excelled on probiotic rich foods.
Germans consumed sauerkraut, Indians consumed lassi, Bulgarians consumed kefir, Asians cultures consumed kimchi, Russians consumed raw yogurt, and Kenyan’s consumed amasi.
Fermented foods give you way more units of probiotics and strains of probiotics than a supplement ever will. When Dr. McBride tested the fermented vegetables she made to a bottle of a good quality probiotic she found that her vegetables had trillions of probiotic units and over 30 strains which means her one serving of fermented vegetables was equal to an entire bottle of probiotics.
Dr. McBride also states that, “Nature is extremely wise and populated all organic fruit and vegetables, the dust on our soils, and all plant matter with Lactobacilli. The fresh cabbage leaves, if it’s organically grown (not the one from chemical farming), will be covered in Lactobacilli lacto-fermenting bacteria. You don’t need to add anything. You just chop it up. Add some salt in the initial stages. (The salt is added in the initial stage in order to stop putrefactive bacteria from multiplying.) Then as the Lactobacillus stop working and start multiplying, they produce lactic acid. That’s why they’re called Lactobacillus. That’s just lactic acid.
If you look at the research in lactic acid, it is one of the most powerful antiseptics. It kills off lots and lots of bad bacteria…. So as the lactic acid starts producing, it will kill off all those putrefactive and pathogenic microbes and preserve the food. It’s a great preservative… A good batch of sauerkraut can keep for five to six years without spoiling or rotting, as long as it is covered by its own juice.”
This process of fermentation does even more than than preserve your food, it also makes the nutrients in the food more bio-available. According to Dr. McBride, the amount of bio-available vitamin C in sauerkraut is 20 times higher than in fresh cabbage!
One of the other aspects that make the probiotic benefits in fermented foods so amazing is that they also kill off bad bacteria!
The healthy bacteria, or probiotics, live longer than the unhealthy ones and actually help to end the bad bacteria reign in the gut. This decrease in ‘bad bacteria’ like candida and h. pylori naturally benefits the body with less illness and diseases and lower rates of inflammation.
Kefir – Similar to yogurt, this fermented dairy product is a unique combination of milk and fermented kefir grains. Kefir has been consumed for well over 3000 years and the term kefir was started in Russia and Turkey and means “feeling good”. It has a slightly acidic and tart flavor and contains anywhere from 10 to 34 strains of probiotics. Kefir is similar to yogurt, but because it is fermented with yeast and more bacteria the final product is higher in probiotics.
To make and maintain your own Kefir click this link – http://www.wikihow.com/Maintain-Kefir-Grains
Cultured Vegetables (Sauerkraut and Kimchi) – Made from fermented cabbage and other vegetables, sauerkraut is not diverse in probiotics, but is high in organic acids (what gives food it’s sour taste) which support the growth of good bacteria. Sauerkraut is extremely popular in Germany today. Kimchi is a cousin to sauerkraut and is the Korean take on cultured veggies. Both of the fermented formulas are also high in enzymes which can aid digestion.
Kombucha – Is an effervescent fermentation of black tea that is started by using a SCOBY also known as a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast. Kombucha has been around for over 2,000 years originating around Japan. Many claims have been made about kombucha but it’s primarily health benefits include digestive support, increased energy and liver detoxification.
For information on Kombucha
Check out this post at www.healthambition.com
Coconut Kefir – Made by fermenting the juice of young coconuts with kefir grains. This dairy-free option for kefir has some of the same probiotics as traditional dairy kefir but is typically not as high in probiotics. Still, it has several strains that are great for your health. Coconut kefir has a great flavor and you can add a bit of stevia, water and lime juice to it and make a great tasting drink.
Natto – A popular dish in Japan consisting of fermented soybeans. Natto contains the extremely powerful probiotic bacillus subtilis which has been proven to bolster your immune system, support cardiovascular health and enhance digestion of vitamin K2. Also, Natto contains a powerful anti-inflammatory enzyme called nattokinase
Yogurt – Possibly the most popular probiotic food is live cultured yogurt or greek yogurt made from the milk of cows, goats, or sheep. Yogurt in most cases can rank at the top of probiotic foods if it comes from raw grass-fed animals. The problem is there is a large variation on the quality of yogurts on the market today. It is recommend when buying yogurt to look for 3 things. First, that it comes from goat’s or sheep milk, second, that it is grass-fed, and third, that it is organic.
Kvass – This is a common fermented beverage in Eastern Europe since ancient times. It was traditionally made by fermenting rye or barley, but in more recent years has been created using beets, fruit along with other root vegetables like carrots. Kvass uses lactobacilli probiotics and is known for it’s blood and liver cleansing properties and has a mild sour flavor.
Raw Cheese – Goat’s milk, sheep’s milk and A2 cows soft cheeses are particularly high in probiotics, including thermophillus, bifudus, bulgaricus and acidophilus. Always buy raw and unpasteurized cheeses if you want to receive any probiotics.
Probiotic Breakfast Ideas
F = Fundamentals, S = Sourdough, CD = Cultured Dairy, and LF = Lacto-Fermentation.
All fermented foods are listed in italics.
|Salsa (LF) with eggs||Soaked, sprouted or sourdough muffins (F, S) with cultured butter (CD) and preserves (LF)
or fermented honey (LF)
|Plain kefir or yogurt (CD) with fruit, fruit preserves (LF) or fruit chutney (LF), soaked nuts, dried fruit, and/or fermented honey (LF)|
|English muffin (S) egg sandwiches with raw cheese (CD) and mayonnaise (LF)||Hard-boiled eggs with various condiments mixed in:
olives (LF), kraut (LF),
sour cream (CD), mayonnaise (LF), raw cheese (CD), salsa (LF), or cultured butter (CD)
|Sauerkraut (F) or kimchi (LF) with scrambled eggs and any other breakfast fixings, like sausage or bacon|
plain kefir or yogurt (CD) with fermented honey (LF), coconut oil,
fruit, fruit preserves (LF), fruit chutney (LF), or fresh or frozen fruit
|Sourdough crepes (S)
with fruit preserves (LF), fruit chutney (LF), fruit relish (LF), sour cream (CD), and/or fermented honey (LF)
|Sourdough crepes (S)with scrambled eggs, sour cream (CD), salsa (LF), and/or guacamole (LF)|
|Toast with cultured butter (CD)||Beet kvass (LF)
or other fermented beverage
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