Probi-what?

Probiotics are the good guys; they’re the bacteria in our gut that help keep us healthy. They support healthy digestion and healthy immunity. They live in the intestines and all too often are outta whack. Use of antibiotics, and diets high in processed sugary foods and low in fibre, create the ultimate hot spot party place for the bad guys; they’re yeasts and and pathogenic bacteria that make us all kinds of unwell.

So before you start dishing out the dollars for expensive probiotics (and you seriously get what you pay for with these goodies), how about some probiotic foods?

Sauerkraut
– Real sauerkraut has a crispy (not mushy) texture.
– Loaded with vitamin C and B vitamins.
– Fermenting cabbage creates isothiocyanate (thought to inhibit the formation of cancer and tumors).

Kombucha
– Long been considered a health tonic.
– Rich in beneficial bacteria and vitamin B12.
– Contains a substance called glucaric acid (said to be deeply detoxifying).

Miso
– Source of phosphorus, manganese and zinc (zinc, in particular, is essential for proper immune system function).
– Primarily fermented by aspergillus oryzae, a mold, that is also responsible for the transformation of soybeans into shoyu or tamari.

Moroccan Preserved Lemons
– Lemons, like all citrus, are rich in antioxidants and vitamin C (particularly concentrated in the rind).
– Preserved lemons are rich in beneficial bacteria and their acidity is sufficient enough to keep pathogenic bacteria at bay.

Sour Pickles
– Most grocery store pickles use vinegar which is tasty, but not fermented. Sour pickles are the traditional alternative.
– Prepare using a simple solution of unrefined sea salt and clean, chlorine-free water which encourages the growth of lactic-acid producing beneficial bacteria that outcompete pathogenic bacteria.
– Traditional sour pickles are raw after culturing unlike vinegar-based cucumber pickles which are cooked during the canning process thus killing food enzymes, bacteria and destroying heat sensitive vitamins.

Of course, I don’t expect you to turn your kitchen (or cool dark cupboards) into a fermentation cellar. You can get some good quality goodies at the store. Check your health food store for traditional kimchi, coconut, goat or sheeo milk yogurts, sour pickles, sauerkraut and other fermented veggies. Just check the labels, there shouldn’t be much more than the vegetable of choice and sea salt.

Also remember that you should introduce these foods gradually. Too much at once and you’re neighbours may think a flock of ducks have moved in to your home.

Image courtesy of sal de mar.

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