Does the thought of eating bacteria gross you out? Well you better get over that, sista! Bacteria is the new popular kid on the block! It seems like everywhere I turn, someone is talking about bacteria, in particular gut bacteria. Sure there is a difference between good and bad bacteria. The bad stuff makes us sick. The good stuff helps balance out the bad, and can help with digestion, nutrient absorption, and immunity.
Did you know that 70-80% of our immune system is located in our gut?! Gotta keep the gut healthy to stay healthy!
So where does good gut bacteria come from? Well, lots of places, but it is found in large volume in fermented foods! In the fermentation process, yeast feeds on added or natural sugars in foods, which creates acid, gas, and/or alcohol to help preserve the food. Fermented foods are also filled with healthy bacteria (AKA probiotics)!
The word "probiotic" comes from the Latin words pro ("before, forward") and bios ("life"). So probiotics are necessary for LIFE!
Some of my absolute favorite fermented foods are below:
1) Kombucha- made from green and black tea. A "scoby" (which stands for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) is added to help ferment the sugars in the tea, which creates a delicious, fizzy probiotic beverage! Health-Ade is one of my favorite brands because, aside from tasting AMAZING, it is one of the lowest in calories and sugar that you can find. And it's made only in small batches with no added CO2, so you know it's the good stuff.
2) Kefir- kefir is fermented cow's milk which contains high amounts of healthy probiotics. Even those who are lactose-intolerant can typically tolerate yogurt or kefir, because the lactose (which is a type of sugar) in these products has been partly broken down by the bacteria in them. Kefir is high in protein and a good source of calcium. I like Lifeway brand because it contains 12 live and active probiotic cultures, is gluten-free, 99% lactose-free, and made with all natural ingredients. Oh and it tasted bomb.
3) Kimchi- kimchi is a spicy fermented cabbage. It just happens to also be the national dish of Korea! Kimchi is made with garlic, salt, vinegar, chili peppers, and other spices. It is high fiber, low fat, loaded with vitamins A,B, and C. Oh, and did I mention the probiotics?! It's no wonder that Koreans have such low obesity rates!