The trillions of bacteria that live in our guts make up our microbiome, which is one of the most important parts of our bodies for our health. Scientists are learning that the bacterial communities we live in are linked to everything from body weight to asthma to acne. Having the right mix of bugs could be good for us in the long run. Some strains of bacteria in our guts are good for our health, while others make us more likely to get sick.
The food we eat every day changes our microbiome. Many of the foods on this list are high in nutrients, such as fiber, which feeds the good bacteria in your gut. These microbes make short-chain fatty acids. These acids are absorbed into the bloodstream, where they reduce inflammation and make the immune system stronger. These foods are good for your gut because they have pro- or prebiotics,
which help the bacteria in your gut grow and change. Probiotics are bacteria that are very similar to or the same as the colonies of good bacteria that live in our guts already. They are found in many of these foods, like yogurt and sauerkraut. On the other hand, prebiotics are a type of plant fiber that is often found in vegetables and feeds the good bacteria in your gut. Chickpeas, bananas, and artichokes are all good sources of prebiotics.
Both are important if you want to have regular bowel movements and build a better microbiome. Here are some foods that contain probiotics that you might want to eat more of.
How to eat it: This cheese from the past is great for making both sweet and savory snacks. Mix it with fruit and walnuts, or add olive oil, cucumber slices, and a little salt and pepper.
Why you should do it: Cottage cheese is good for your gut, so cheese lovers, rejoice! As with other fermented foods, cottage cheese often contains probiotics (check the package labels for live and active cultures). It is also high in calcium, which is important for strong bones.
How to eat it: This fermented cabbage dish from Korea can make almost any food taste better. You can mix kimchi with brown rice or just eat it by itself.
Why it’s good for you: Kimchi is a probiotic made from cruciferous vegetables like cabbage and garlic. Not only is it good for your gut, but it may also help lower your risk of cancer.
How to eat it: Sauerkraut and lean meat make a tasty and healthy meal when served in small amounts.
Why you should do it: The cabbage in sauerkraut, a food that has been around since the 4th century B.C., is fermented with lactic-acid bacteria, which helps keep your digestive system in balance. You also get fiber and substances that make your immune system stronger.
How to eat it: For a filling breakfast or afternoon snack, add fresh fruit, seeds, and a little granola to a bowl of plain yogurt.
Why you should do it: Since yogurt is a fermented food, it naturally has a lot of probiotic cultures that help the digestive system. Some Greek yogurt has probiotics like Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus casei added to it, which may help your gut have more good bacteria.
Instructions: Miso is a fermented paste made from soy beans that is used in Japanese cooking. Mix miso with things like mirin, vinegar, soy sauce, and sesame oil to make a tasty marinade for salmon.
Why you should do it: Miso can have a lot of sodium, but it is also a good source of protein, calcium, iron, and magnesium and is good for your gut.
How to eat them: Add chopped pickles to potato salad or use them instead of high-fat spreads in your lunch wrap. Pickles brined in salt water, not vinegar, have the good bacteria.
Why they’re good for you: Cucumber pickles are made by brining them in salt water and letting them ferment, which gives you good bacteria. Each spear has vitamins A and K, which are important for healthy blood and cells, and potassium, which is important for a healthy heart. Just remember that pickles usually have a lot of sodium.
You can drink kombucha right out of the bottle. You might have to try a few different kinds before you find the one you like best.
Why you should do it: Kombucha is a tea that has been fermented and has some gases and a small amount of alcohol in it. This gives it a bubbly texture. It has a lot of good things for the immune system, like probiotics and antioxidants. But don’t drink too much of it, because it has lactic acid, which, if it builds up in your bloodstream, can be bad for your health.
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