You've likely heard the enormous buzz surrounding probiotics lately. While probiotics have always been touted as the miracle cure to embarrassing digestive issues, recently they have been making news for their other amazing health benefits. In fact recent research has shown that probiotics have the potential to help with everything from boosting immune function to fighting depression to even warding off obesity!
Your digestive system contains beneficial bacteria that help you digest food and keep your immune system strong. Occasionally however, this balance becomes disrupted due to illness, stress, poor food choices or antibiotic use. Probiotic foods contain beneficial bacteria which can help restore your gut flora back to a healthy balance.
Kefir is fermented drink produced from the fermentation of cow’s milk or goat’s milk and kefir “grains”. Contrary to popular belief, kefir “grains” are not grains in the conventional sense, but they are instead a mixture of yeast and lactic acid bacteria. These gut-friendly yeasts and bacteria ferment the milk, resulting in a creamy, slightly sour beverage that is high in gut-friendly probiotics. Kefir can be found next to milk in the dairy case.
Sauerkraut also known as pickled cabbage, was first developed over 2000 years ago as a way of preserving cabbage. Recently however, sauerkraut has been gaining traction for its probiotic health benefits. Sauerkraut has a characteristic sour flavour from the lactic acid that forms when the natural sugars in the cabbage are fermented. Sauerkraut pairs great on rye with swiss cheese and corned beef.
Tempeh, which originated in Indonesia is made from whole, fermented soybeans. Popular with vegetarians and vegans as a meat replacement, tempeh is a great source of probiotics, vitamin B12, calcium and protein. Tempeh has a unique and nutty flavour and can be sauteed, baked or crumbled onto salad.
Kombucha has been gaining popularity for its plethora of health benefits, namely being a potent source of probiotics. Kombucha is a lightly sweetened black or green tea that is fermented in a culture of bacteria and yeast known as a scoby. Kombucha is low in sugar and calories, making it the perfect mid-afternoon thirst quencher.
5. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is one of the most talked about natural health food products. ACV is produced from apples, vinegar, and a bacterial culture, known as “the mother.” In order for the beneficial probiotic bacteria to be present, apple cider vinegar must be purchased with the “mother” intact. ACV has a refreshing, tangy flavour and pairs great with spring salads or as a “kick” in Asian stir frys.