Bacteria get a bad rap most of the time. People typically associate bacteria with illness and disease. However, your body is full of microorganisms – including bacteria – that keep your digestive system, skin, and immune system running smoothly.
In fact, your body craves “good” bacteria to keep you healthy and balanced. Most people put lots of things into their bodies that damage these microorganisms, which then leads to gut problems, a compromised immune system, mental health issues, and many other problems.
Here’s the good news: By consuming the best probiotics, you can maintain a balanced gut and overall great health. How? With fermented foods.
No, fermented foods won’t get you drunk. They do contain a very small amount of alcohol, but it’s nearly impossible to measure. What they do have are healthy microorganisms and a wide range of other benefits. These “good” bacteria overpower the “bad” bacteria in your intestines. The result? Your body is more capable of warding off illness, absorbing proper nutrients, and promoting a healthy brain.
Signs You Need Probiotics
Every part of your body, from your brain to your toes, requires proper vitamins and nutrients to function properly. Unfortunately, having an overabundance of “bad” bacteria can throw off this process. Even if your diet is perfect, you may not be absorbing nutrients from food properly if your gut is not in top shape.
Here are signs you need probiotics:
- Mood disorders such as feeling down, tired, stressed, unfocused, or anxious
- Skin conditions including dry skin, rashes, or hives
- Frequent colds or illnesses due to a compromised immune system
- Feminine imbalance like yeast infections
- Allergies, including food allergies
- Digestive problems or pain
- You’ve recently taken antibiotics which destroy all bacteria in the body
Fermented Foods for Getting the Best Probiotics
While probiotic supplements are popular, fermented foods are an excellent route for consuming the best probiotics possible. Fortunately, with their growing popularity throughout the West, you now have many options to choose from.
Yogurt is a classic source of probiotics and it’s widely available. Unfortunately, most brands contain large amounts of sugar, which emboldens the bad bacteria in your gut and throughout your body. Make sure to read the labels and only buy yogurt without added sugar or sugar substitutes.
Another downside to yogurt: It isn’t vegan. That’s okay because cultured and fermented coconut milk is available. It has all the same great probiotics as regular yogurt but without any of the dairy.
2. Kefir and Lassi
Kefir and lassi provide drinkable solutions to yogurt. Lassi is a staple in Indian cuisine and may contain extra spices or fruit. Again, watch out for the sugar content.
The best part? You can make both of these concoctions at home with dairy-free milk like almond or coconut.
Alcohol – especially beer – can contribute to an unhealthy gut. If you look forward to a cold beer after work every day, the habit can be hard to kick. Think about swapping out the damaging beer for a healthy dose of kombucha.
This drink is made by combining sugar, bacteria, and yeast so it’s pretty similar to beer in that way. Plus, it’s kind of carbonated. The end result? Lots of B vitamins and the best probiotics.
4. Fermented Vegetables
Not down with kombucha or kefir? No problem, veggie lovers can eat their fermented foods. Not only does naturally fermented food contain lots of probiotics, but it also contains high amounts of fiber (another key to a healthy gut).
Tempeh gets a category all its own because it makes an excellent meat replacement. Not only is tempeh a complete protein, but it’s also easier for the body to digest than your everyday tofu.
This soy-based product is made by fermenting soy. In addition to protein and probiotics, tempeh also contains calcium, magnesium, potassium, and iron. What more could you ask for?
Another soy-based product, miso is more of a seasoning than a main ingredient. Miso is much more versatile than other soy products like tofu or tempeh, making it perfect for everything from smoothies to soups.
This fermented soy paste contains protein and vitamin K. Just watch out for the sodium content.
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