Food With Live Cultures

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Food With Live Cultures is a collection of ideas and recipes to help you nourish yourself – in a way that tastes great too! The blog gives consumers the insight on how to eat healthy, but also includes recipes that simply make you feel good.

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Food With Live Cultures

The friendly bacteria keep harmful bacteria in check, helping your body maintain a healthy balance, reducing inflammation, and optimizing gut health.

Consuming a balanced, diverse diet of clean protein, healthy fats, dietary fiber, and probiotic foods helps promote gastrointestinal health, Fiorita says. And the benefits of a healthy gut are numerous.

“Benefits include keeping our immune system healthy by reducing the risk of infection and illness, as well as mental and neurological health, weight and metabolism, cardiovascular health, renal and urinary health and management of gastrointestinal conditions such as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome),” she says.

Best probiotic foods

Eating more probiotic foods can increase the number of good bacteria in your body. Fermented foods, such as yogurt, kombucha and miso, are a good source, since they contain a host of these bacteria.

When shopping for probiotic foods, check labels for the phrase “live and active cultures.” Several strains of bacteria are probiotic: common strains are lactobacillus and bifidobacteria, Fiorita says.

How many probiotic foods should you eat? The daily recommendation is two tablespoons of fermented foods from two different sources, she suggests.

Probiotic foods are safe for most people, but Fiorita urges anyone who is immunocompromised to use caution. People with conditions, like dysbiosis or small intestine bacterial overgrowth, may experience bloating, gas and abdominal pain when consuming probiotic foods and should check with their doctor first.

What’s the difference between prebiotic and probiotic foods?

The term “prebiotic” often enters the conversation about probiotics, but the two shouldn’t be confused. “Prebiotics essentially serve as food for our probiotics,” Fiorita explains.

Most types of fiber are fully digested before reaching the intestines, but others, the prebiotics, stay intact through the metabolic process and feed the intestinal bacteria in the gut.

Prebiotic foods are fiber-rich and encourage the growth of beneficial microorganisms that already exist in the gut, such as lactobacillus and bifidobacteria, she says. Leeks, onions, tofu, some soy products and grains are examples of prebiotic foods.

“Probiotics thrive when an individual consumes adequate prebiotic-rich foods within a diverse diet,” Fiorita says. “One group is not healthier than the other—we need both.”

Probiotic Food List

  1. Yogurt. Made from milk fermented by lactic acid bacteria and bifidobacteria, all friendly types of bacteria, yogurt is one of the best sources of probiotics. It’s also high in calcium, which is great for your bones.
  2. Greek yogurt. Also packed with probiotics, Greek yogurt, made by straining regular yogurt, has more protein and few carbs and sugars than other types of yogurt.
  3. Skyr. This Icelandic dairy product is made by fermenting skim milk and features probiotic cultures similar to yogurt. It’s also low in calories and fat, and high in protein and other nutrients.
  4. Sauerkraut. The sour, salty fermented cabbage is probiotic-rich. It’s also high in fiber, vitamins and antioxidants, but high in sodium.
  5. Kimchi. A traditional Korean food staple, kimchi is made by fermenting vegetables, including cabbage, with probiotic lactic acid bacteria, and also helps reduce cholesterol, promotes brain health and boosts immunity.
  6. Tempeh. Because it’s high in protein, tempeh is a popular meat substitute. The fermented soybean product is a probiotic food and a good source of vitamin B12.
  7. Miso. Made by fermenting soybeans with salt and koji, a type of fungus, miso is a Japanese food staple. The paste comes in many varieties and is often used in miso soup. It’s also rich in vitamins B, E, K and folic acid.
  8. Kombucha. Kombucha, a drink made by fermenting black or green tea, sugar, yeast and bacteria, is touted for its health benefits, including better digestion.
  9. Kefir. This fermented milk beverage contains multiple strains of friendly bacteria and yeast. It’s been shown to improve digestion and has antimicrobial and anti-cancer properties.
  10. Lassi. A popular drink in India and Pakistan, a lassi is made with fermented yogurt and fruits, like mango, and contains plenty of probiotics.
  11. Smoothies. Blend your favorite fruits and vegetables with probiotic-rich yogurt for a healthy breakfast or snack that’s also protein- and nutrient-dense.

How to get more probiotics

There are two ways to get more good bacteria into your gut: fermented foods and dietary supplements. Fermented foods are the most natural source. Probiotic supplements, which are typically sold over the counter, are reserved to treat specific ailments as suggested by your doctor, and not recommended for everyday use. Plus, supplements do not have the same FDA oversight as medications do.

So, a big question remains: How  many probiotic foods do you need? That’s not easy to answer.

There is no recommended daily intake for probiotics, so there is no way to know exactly which fermented foods or what quantity is best. Therefore, the general guideline is to just add as many fermented foods to your daily diet as possible.

Why fermented foods? Fermenting is one of the oldest techniques for food preservation. Mankind has been fermenting foods and drinks like beer and wine for centuries. Foods that are fermented go through a process of lactofermentation in which natural bacteria feed on the sugar and starch in the food, creating lactic acid. This process creates an environment that preserves the food and promotes beneficial enzymes, B vitamins, and omega-3 fatty acids, as well as various species of good bacteria.

Another way to look at fermentation is that it takes one type of food and transforms it into another kind. For instance, cabbage becomes sauerkraut, cucumbers become pickles, soybeans turn into miso, and milk can be made into yogurt, cheeses, and sour cream.

Not all fermented foods contain probiotics. Some foods undergo steps that remove the probiotics, as with beer or wine, or make them inactive, like baking and canning. However, most fermented foods are probiotic foods as well.

If there is a potential downside to fermented foods, it is that their taste and smell can be quite strong, which may be unpleasant for some people. The unique flavors and textures of fermented foods are due in part to the different species of bacteria used.

On the upside, there are many types of fermented foods from which to choose, so there is a good chance you can find something you will enjoy.

The most common fermented foods that naturally contain probiotics, or have probiotics added to them, include yogurt, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, pickles, miso, tempeh, kimchi, sourdough bread and some cheeses.

Yogurt is considered the most valuable player of probiotic foods because it has a flavor and texture that’s generally appealing to Western palates. The number and type of bacteria species can vary depending on the yogurt brand. The probiotic content of yogurt products can range from 90 billion to 500 billion CFU per serving. (CFU stands for colony- forming units, which is how many bacteria are able to divide and form colonies.) Look for the words “live and active cultures” on the label.

How to use: Yogurt is easy to add to your diet. Besides having it for breakfast or a midday snack, you can substitute yogurt whenever you use mayonnaise in egg salad or potato salad, or in almost any baking recipe. Yogurt also can be the basis for sauces, salad dressings, or marinades.

17 Great Probiotic Foods for Better Gut Health

Probiotic foods - Dr. Axe

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Are you getting enough probiotic-rich foods in your diet? Chances are you’re probably not. Probiotics are a form of good bacteria found in your gut which are responsible for everything from nutrient absorption to immune health.

Not only are probiotics are essential for digestion, but did you know there are hundreds of other health benefits of consuming probiotic-rich foods that you might not be aware of? According to a review published in the journal ISRN Nutrition, probiotics could also help people lower cholesterol, protect against allergies, aid in cancer prevention and more.

In most cases, getting more probiotics in your routine doesn’t require you to buy expensive pills, powders or supplements. In fact, there are a number of  probiotic foods out there that are delicious, versatile and easy to enjoy as part of a healthy, well-rounded diet naturally.

In this article, we’ll cover the extensive list of all probiotic foods you should consider adding to your food routine and how they can benefit you. Plus, we’ll look at some tips for how to fit these fermented foods into your meals to maximize the gut-boosting benefits of probiotics.

What Are They?

Probiotics are a type of beneficial bacteria that are found within the gut microbiome. These microorganisms play a central role in health and disease and are even involved in immune function and digestion. If you don’t get enough probiotics, some of the side effects may include digestive problems, skin issues, candida, autoimmune disease and frequent colds and flus.

Historically, people had plenty of probiotics from eating fresh foods from good soil and by fermenting foods to keep them from spoiling. Today, however, dangerous agricultural practices and decreased diet quality have caused our food supply to be significantly lower in probiotics. Even worse, many foods today actually contain antibiotics, which even kill off the good bacteria in our bodies.

Fortunately, in addition to taking probiotic supplements, there are many probiotic foods that people can consume to help provide these essential microorgranisms. By adding more probiotic foods into your schedule, you could see all of the following health benefits:

  • Stronger immune system
  • Improved digestion
  • Increased energy from production of vitamin B12
  • Better breath because probiotics destroy candida
  • Healthier skin, since probiotics improve eczema and psoriasis
  • Reduced cold and flu
  • Healing from leaky gut and inflammatory bowel disease
  • Weight management

Sound good? If you want all of these benefits, then it’s time to start consuming these probiotic foods for better health. Ideally, you should eat a variety of different types of probiotic foods as each offers a different type of beneficial bacteria to help the body in a variety of ways. Pick and choose a few ingredients from the probiotic and prebiotic foods list and start filling your plate to reap the rewards of better gut health.

Here are a few of the top types of “friendly” gut bacteria that your body needs …

7 types of probiotic bacteria:

  • Lactobacillus acidophilus
  • Lactobacillus bulgarius
  • Lactobacillus reuteri
  • Streptococcus thermophilus
  • Saccharomyces boulardii
  • Bifidobacterium bifidum
  • Bacillus subtilis

The best probiotics naturally have these active cultures. It’s important they’re live and active cultures to benefit your gut the most, so if you do choose to take probiotic supplements, make sure they have these.

17 Top Probiotic Foods

Where can you find probiotics? Here are the top 17 foods in which you can find this beneficial bacteria.

1. Kefir

Similar to yogurt, this fermented dairy product is a unique combination of milk and fermented kefir grains. It has been consumed for well over 3,000 years; the term originated 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.

It is similar to yogurt, but because it is fermented with yeast and more bacteria, the final product is higher in probiotics and lower in lactose, making it a suitable choice for many who are lactose-intolerant.

2. Sauerkraut

Made from fermented cabbage and other probiotic vegetables, sauerkraut is not diverse in probiotics but is high in organic acids (what gives food its sour taste) that support the growth of good bacteria.

Sauerkraut is extremely popular in Germany today. It is high in vitamin C and digestive enzymes. It’s also a good source of natural lactic acid bacteria, such as lactobacillus.

3. Kombucha

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 its primary health benefits include digestive support, increased energy and liver detoxification.

4. Coconut Kefir

Made by fermenting the juice of young coconuts with kefir grains, this option has some of the same probiotics as the traditional variety but is typically not as high in probiotics. Still, it has several strains that are beneficial for your health.

Coconut kefir has a great flavor, and you can add a bit of stevia, water and lime juice to make a great-tasting, refreshing drink.

5. 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.

Natto also contains a powerful anti-inflammatory enzyme called nattokinase that has been proven to prevent blood clotting and is loaded with protein, securing it a top slot in the list of probiotic foods.

6. Yogurt

Possibly the most popular probiotic food is live cultured probiotic 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 grass-fed animals and has not been pasteurized.

The problem is there is a large variation on the quality of yogurts on the market today. When buying yogurt, look for organic, grass-fed varieties that are made from goat’s or sheep’s milk.

7. Kvass

This powerful ingredient has been 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 probiotic fruits and beets along with other root vegetables like carrots.

Kvass uses Lactobacilli probiotics and is known for its blood and liver-cleansing properties along with its mild sour flavor.

8. Raw Cheese

Goat’s milk, sheep’s milk and A2 cow’s 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, as pasteurized and processed varieties are lacking in beneficial bacteria.

9. Apple cider vinegar

Is apple cider vinegar a good source of probiotics? In addition to controlling blood pressure, reducing cholesterol levels, improving insulin sensitivity and even enhancing weight loss, apple cider vinegar can also help ramp up probiotic intake as well. Drink a small bit each day or use it as a salad dressing to maximize your results.

10. Salted gherkin pickles

These fermented tasty treats are also a little recognized probiotics source. When shopping for pickles, be sure to choose a smaller food manufacturer that uses organic products. If you can find a local maker, you’ll be getting some of the best probiotics for your health.

11. Brine-cured olives

Olives that are brine-cured are an excellent source of probiotics. Like with salted gherkin pickles, be sure to select a product that is organic first. Next, be certain that your olives aren’t made from a huge manufacturer and try to select a smaller company that advertises probiotics.

Also make sure that your olives don’t contain sodium benzoate, a food additive that can negate many of the health-promoting properties of this probiotic power-food.

12. Tempeh

Hailing from Indonesia, this fermented soybean product is another awesome food that provides probiotics. Tempeh is created by adding a tempeh starter to soybeans. The product is then left to sit for a day or two, which results in a cake-like product.

You can eat tempeh raw or by boiling it and eating it with miso. It can also be used as a substitute for meat in a stir fry meal and can be baked, grilled, marinated or sautéed.

13. Miso

Miso is a traditional Japanese spice found in many of their traditional foods. If you’ve ever been to a Japanese restaurant, you may have seen their miso soup. Not only that, but it is also one of the mainstays of Japanese medicine and is commonly used in macrobiotic cooking as a digestive regulator.

It is created by fermenting soybean, barley or brown rice with koji. Koji is a fungus, and the fermentation process takes anywhere from a few days to a few years to complete.

Miso soup is famous throughout the world, and it’s very easy to prepare. Simply dissolve a tablespoonful of miso in a pot of water filled with seaweed and other ingredients of your choice. Miso can also be spread on crackers, used in place of butter or added to marinades and stir-fries for an added dose of flavor.

14. Traditional Buttermilk

Traditional buttermilk, also sometimes called cultured buttermilk, is a fermented drink that is made from the liquid that is left over after churning butter. It’s considered one of the top probiotic Indian foods and is also commonly consumed in countries such as Nepal and Pakistan as well.

Keep in mind that most types of buttermilk found at supermarkets do not contain probiotics. Instead, look for varieties that contain live cultures to boost the benefits of your buttermilk.

15. Water Kefir

Water kefir is is made by adding grains to sugar water, resulting in a fermented, fizzy beverage that is jam-packed with probiotics.

The water kind is one of the top natural vegan probiotic foods that can be enjoyed as part of a healthy plant-based diet. It’s also thinner than the regular version and can be flavored using a variety of herbs, fruits and spices to create your own customized concoction.

16. Raw Milk

Raw cow’s milk, goat’s milk, sheep’s milk and A2 aged cheeses are particularly high in probiotics. Just remember, all pasteurized dairy is devoid of healthy bacteria, so to get the probiotics, you need to stick to only high-quality, raw dairy that hasn’t been pasteurized.

17. Kimchi

Kimchi is a cousin to sauerkraut and is the Korean take on cultured veggies. It’s created by mixing a main ingredient, such as Chinese cabbage, with a number of other foods and spices, like red pepper flakes, radishes, carrots, garlic, ginger, onion, sea salt and fish sauce.

The mixture is then left aside to ferment for three to 14 days, resulting in a flavor-filled, probiotic-packed ingredient.

How to get more probiotics

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There are two ways to get more good bacteria into your gut: fermented foods and dietary supplements. Fermented foods are the most natural source. Probiotic supplements, which are typically sold over the counter, are reserved to treat specific ailments as suggested by your doctor, and not recommended for everyday use. Plus, supplements do not have the same FDA oversight as medications do.

So, a big question remains: How  many probiotic foods do you need? That’s not easy to answer.

There is no recommended daily intake for probiotics, so there is no way to know exactly which fermented foods or what quantity is best. Therefore, the general guideline is to just add as many fermented foods to your daily diet as possible.

Why fermented foods? Fermenting is one of the oldest techniques for food preservation. Mankind has been fermenting foods and drinks like beer and wine for centuries. Foods that are fermented go through a process of lactofermentation in which natural bacteria feed on the sugar and starch in the food, creating lactic acid. This process creates an environment that preserves the food and promotes beneficial enzymes, B vitamins, and omega-3 fatty acids, as well as various species of good bacteria.

Another way to look at fermentation is that it takes one type of food and transforms it into another kind. For instance, cabbage becomes sauerkraut, cucumbers become pickles, soybeans turn into miso, and milk can be made into yogurt, cheeses, and sour cream.

Not all fermented foods contain probiotics. Some foods undergo steps that remove the probiotics, as with beer or wine, or make them inactive, like baking and canning. However, most fermented foods are probiotic foods as well.

If there is a potential downside to fermented foods, it is that their taste and smell can be quite strong, which may be unpleasant for some people. The unique flavors and textures of fermented foods are due in part to the different species of bacteria used.

On the upside, there are many types of fermented foods from which to choose, so there is a good chance you can find something you will enjoy.

The most common fermented foods that naturally contain probiotics, or have probiotics added to them, include yogurt, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, pickles, miso, tempeh, kimchi, sourdough bread and some cheeses.

Yogurt is considered the most valuable player of probiotic foods because it has a flavor and texture that’s generally appealing to Western palates. The number and type of bacteria species can vary depending on the yogurt brand. The probiotic content of yogurt products can range from 90 billion to 500 billion CFU per serving. (CFU stands for colony- forming units, which is how many bacteria are able to divide and form colonies.) Look for the words “live and active cultures” on the label.

How to use: Yogurt is easy to add to your diet. Besides having it for breakfast or a midday snack, you can substitute yogurt whenever you use mayonnaise in egg salad or potato salad, or in almost any baking recipe. Yogurt also can be the basis for sauces, salad dressings, or marinades.

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