How to Improve Your Gut Health with Probiotic Foods
With diseases being increasingly linked to poor digestive health, it’s no wonder that having a healthy gut is all the rage these days. Probiotics are a must for any functioning digestive system, and including probiotic-rich foods in your diet will make things a lot happier in your stomach.
So what are probiotics exactly, and which foods are packed full of them?
What are Probiotic-rich Foods?
Foods that contain living microorganisms are rich in probiotics. These live microorganisms assist the digestive system by repopulating the area with good bacteria, and are commonly used to fight IBS symptoms, skin conditions and other inflammatory issues.
While probiotics do come in capsule form, there are a number of foods available today which naturally contain probiotics. You can improve your gut health simply by adding the following foods to your diet.
Natural yoghurt is perhaps one of the most famous and popular foods for containing large amounts of probiotics. The type of yoghurt you choose does make a difference, and it’s essential to go for something that has ‘live cultures’ listed in the ingredients. The packaging should indicate that the yoghurt is organic and natural.
To improve your gut health with yoghurt, incorporate it into your diet by adding it to spicy dishes to balance out the heat, to smoothies in the place of milk, in dips, or alongside fruit salad.
The drink called kefir is formed by allowing milk and kefir grains to ferment for a couple of days. This can easily be made at home or purchased from a health food store.
The sharp flavour of kefir makes it a good ingredient to mix with other things in your diet, the way you would with yoghurt. Otherwise, many people simply take it daily as a shot.
The authentic Korean dish known as kimchi is made from fermented, salted and spiced vegetables. Cabbage is generally a main ingredient, and after the vegetables have spent a few days fermenting, they have grown healthy bacteria.
Kimchi is best eaten on its own as a snack, condiment or side dish. While it’s possible to make your own, it’s readily available from health food stores and Asian grocers.
The fermented soybeans known as tempeh originate from Indonesia. Although it’s similar to tofu, tempeh contains healthy bacteria from the fermentation process, whereas tofu doesn’t.
To add tempeh to your diet, simply use it where you would firm tofu, for example in a stir-fry. Tempeh can be bought from Asian grocers or health food stores.
Sauerkraut is similar to kimchi in that it is fermented vegetables, most commonly made with cabbage. Other vegetables can also be added to vary the flavour, such as beetroot and carrot.
Sauerkraut can be purchased from most supermarkets or continental delis, but remember to choose a brand that is raw and hasn’t been treated with heat. This process destroys the living bacteria which will improve your gut health.
Made with a starter culture called ‘scoby’, kombucha is a tea drink that is packed with healthy bacteria after a fermentation process.
The sweet taste of kombucha makes it fine for most people to drink on its own. You can buy it bottled in a range of flavours from the health food store, or you can make your own at home.