Are you looking to become a pro of the biotic?
Well first up, I'm going to let you in on a little secret, one between us pro's. Not everyone necessarily needs to take a probiotic supplement. Sometimes, just a spoon full of Sauerkraut keeps the good gut microbes satisfied.
If you’re reading this and you’ve never really understood probiotics, I’ll start from the beginning.
Our gut microbiome is made up of a community of bacteria that’s responsible for far more than our digestive health. The health of our gut can impact our immune system, sleep, hormones, energy levels, weight, skin and more.
A healthy microbiome involves a great number of probiotics, known as our friendly bacteria, and a smaller number of pathogenic bacteria. To keep our guts flourishing, probiotics are necessary to help the growth of the good bacteria within your gut.
To replenish your strains of good bacteria, try consuming a small amount of probiotic-rich foods at least a few times each week. Personally, I take a probiotic supplement daily and consume a range of prebiotic and probiotic foods to widen the diversity.
However, some sensitive tummies can suffer from gas and bloating when consuming probiotic-rich foods initially. It’s best to start slowly with a teaspoon and build up from there.
Below are my top six probiotic-rich foods and their benefits. By including a range of the following ingredients into your daily meal rotation, you'll be helping contribute to a thriving digestive system that will benefit the wellbeing of your entire body!
Sauerkraut is finely cut cabbage that’s been fermented, making it more nutritious than its raw variety. It can help improve digestive health and even contains high levels of iron which is great for boosting energy. Although, be mindful of the salt!
Sauerkraut can be high in sodium, so be wary when choosing store-bought varieties. Look for sauerkraut that's in the fridge at your local deli or health food store, as those kept at room temperature often contain additives and preservatives that can cause more harm than good. I love to top off my salads, such as my Bohemian Baked Vegetable Bowl, with a spoon of sauerkraut. I've included my cultured vegetable recipe below for you to try your hand at too!
When you were a kid, did you ever enjoy drinkable yoghurt?. Nowadays, a handy drinkable yoghurt to try is kefir, a thick, nutrient-dense and deliciously creamy fermented milk product that can help support immunity, enhance detoxification and of course, reduce digestive issues.
It’s made using kefir grains that help grow live bacteria and yeast cultures. You can find it in a dairy form or, if you avoid milk, there are some vegan varieties available. How to have it? You can drink it straight, add it to smoothies, whip it up like cream cheese or use it as a dressing.
You may have heard of ‘superfood’ green powders that include vegetables from the sea and algae. While that may sound a little bit off-putting, do not be turned off by the sea! Chlorella and spirulina are not just for the lovable grass-chewing hippies. They can act as wonderful probiotics that provide a nutrient-boost with every spoonful. These green powders are made of nutrient-dense organisms found in salt water. Spirulina is comprised of more than 70 per cent protein, as well as vitamin E, chlorophyll and fatty acids. While, chlorella is a green microalgae that’s rich in chlorophyll, protein and carotenoids. Chlorophyll is a probiotic that’s seriously powerful for the gut. You can mix green powders into a glass of water or, add them to your smoothie, like my Berry and Avocado Smoothie Bowl and you won’t even know that they’re there!
Kimchi is traditionally a Korean fermented vegetable that’s made with a mix of veggies including cabbage with seasonings such as chilli, garlic, turmeric and ginger. This antioxidant-rich mix contains bacteria to aid digestive and immune health. Kimchi is rich in digestive enzymes, making it the perfect fix for a sluggish digestive system. You can use it to add a kick to your seasonings or on its own but use it sparingly as you may run the risk of burning your mouth!
Move aside regular pickles, we’re talking about the real dill! Pickles that have been lacto-fermented (i.e. fermented in salty water, not vinegar), are bouncing with probiotics and full of live bacteria. They’re best served organic and locally made, if possible. Feel free to include them in your sandwiches, toss them through your salads, or serve them next to my Turmeric Scrambled Eggs.
I couldn’t write about probiotics without including yoghurt. Both Greek yoghurt and most coconut yoghurts contain a probiotic known as Lactobacillus Acidophilus which helps show pure love to your gut. Biodynamic organic yoghurt (dairy or plant-based) is where it's at! Be sure to read the labels and watch out for any high fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners and flavours added to it. Also, look for “live and active cultures” – this is what you’re after. The probiotics within yoghurt help quickly build up healthy microbes in the gut lining which helps increase the absorption of food and reduce bad bacteria. You can try your hand at making your own Coconut Frozen Yo-Gut here.
While you wouldn’t usually think of Apple Cider Vinegar as a probiotic, it actually has probiotic enzymes that help balance gut bacteria, helping improve nutrient assimilation and balancing pH levels. It’s also seriously good for our overall wellbeing – in fact, it’s one of the first things I pop out of my cupboard when I feel a cold or flu coming on. ACV is one of the star ingredients in my Apple Cider Gummy Bears. Yes, I said gummy bears. However, if you’re not into all things tasty, delicious and chewable (but seriously, who isn’t?), you can also drizzle some over your salads like I’ve done here.
If you want to try out fermenting for yourself, I've included my Fermented Vegetable recipe for you below! Once you get to learn the process, fermenting can be lots of fun. Start by choosing vegetables you’re familiar with, so it doesn’t feel intimidating. Fermented vegetables can be served as a side dish — just start with a small amount, such as a teaspoonful, and work your way up.
Also just a final tip if you’re not absorbing your food well or have a sluggish digestion cleaning it first with Love Your Gut Powder can help! You can find the powder over here www.superchargeyourgut.com
MAKES 2 X 1 LITRE MASON JARS
- 4 carrots, peeled and diced
- 4 celery stalks, chopped
- 500 g (1 lb 2 oz/4 cups) cauliflower florets
- 1 red or yellow capsicum (pepper), chopped or sliced
- 3 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 90 g (31⁄4 oz/2/3 cup) Celtic sea salt
- filtered water, to cover
Combine the vegetables, ginger and garlic in a sturdy bowl. Pound them with a pestle or rolling pin until slightly smashed and softened.
Add the salt and toss well. Press the mixture into two sterilised 1 litre (35 fl oz) mason jars, leaving about 2.5 cm (1 inch) of breathing space at the top of each jar, to allow for expansion.
Pour in enough water to just cover the vegetables, adding more salt if needed to submerge them — the mixture needs to be very salty.
Cover the jars with plastic wrap, then screw the lids on tightly. Leave to ferment in a warm place for 3–5 days.
Do a taste test until you’re pleased with the flavour, removing any mould that may form on the surface. The vegetables should taste tangy.
Store in the fridge and use within 1 week.
NOTE : To sterilise jars and lids, you can run them through a dishwasher, or wash them in clean soapy water, rinse well and dry them in a low oven.