A List of Probiotic and Fermented Foods That Will Improve Your Life
Probiotic Foods or Supplements?
Fermented foods are a great source of probiotics, but are they a better source than supplements? The foods contain a lot more bacteria than supplements and are cheaper. They are easy to make at home and some can even be found in the store. In fact, eating the right foods is even better for your health, because the good bacteria in foods are more likely to reach your intestine than the ones in supplements.
Probiotics in fact are not a new discovery, people have been using them in foods since the beginning of history, it is only the latest decades that we stopped eating natural and healthy foods, and this is all due to the massive industrialization of food.
Fermented Foods List
Most good bacteria that can help us stay healthy are available in foods. In the Middle East, Europe, and Asia, these foods are part of the daily diet. And all of them are very tasty and nutritious. Some are not what you call the glamorous food that you would buy in a restaurant, but there are many that you would certainly eat at home every day.
Here is a list of fermented foods:
- Yogurt, kefir, sour milk
- Brine pickles
- Kombucha tea
- Olives in brine
- Cultured cottage cheese
- Fermented poi
- Soft and blue Cheese
- Fermented fruit juices
- Elderflower lemonade
- Boza or Braga
- Active Brewers Yeast
Why Do We Need Probiotics?
Beneficial microorganisms are in the attention of the medical world for a little while now, and for a good reason. They are great for treating a wide range of medical problems such as irritable bowel syndrome, autism, eczema, infectious diarrhea, poor digestion, and boosting immunity. In fact the list of health benefits doesn't stop here, there is new research that suggest effectiveness for type 1 diabetes, fibromyalgia, and even cancer. Other good microbes are used to treat sore throats, body odours, and improve dental health.
What are the effects of probiotics?
How probiotics work is not entirely known, but the tiny organisms create a symbiotic relationship. We give them a place to live, and we feed them. they make us stronger, and protect us from pathogens.
Initially, it was believed that the good bacteria adhered to the gut walls, blocking and killing pathogens. The latest research points to other mechanisms. Some of the friendly microorganisms, produce substances to kill pathogens, such as bacteriocins and hydrogen peroxide and they also transmit various signals to inhibit the virulence of pathogens. Other mechanisms are also proposed, one of them is the modulation of our immune system.
What are the best probiotics?
Here is the abstract of a publication to list some of the benefits of the probiotics. The strains with the greatest number of benefits, (or should we say the most researched), are Lactobacilus rhamnosus GG, and Saccharomyces boulardii, but there are many others.
What Are Some Good Probiotic Supplements?
One of the best supplements on the market is Saccharomyces Boulardii. S. Boulardii is a yeast that is not normally present in human body but is very beneficial to our health. Unfortunately, we cannot get it from foods, at least not in North America and Europe. The list of medical uses is impressive, here are some of the conditions treated with this "good yeast": travelers' diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, antibiotic-associated diarrhea, anti-inflammatory, increased immune response, acne, candida, some forms of dermatitis, ulcerative colitis, parasitic infections, Crohn's disease, etc. Saccharomyces Boulardii can be found in lychee peel and in mangosteen fruit. However, a more reliable source is a supplement.
Probiotics are probably one of the best medical discoveries, and there is a huge industry that is still developing. As with any industry, there will be companies that take advantage of the huge market demand, and lack of regulation. Independent companies have tested many products on the market. The findings have been shocking. Some products don't contain any trace of live bacteria and other have too little to be qualified as effective. The effective supplements are rather expensive, though the expense is worth. This is one of the reasons I started to make my own yogurt at home.
What do you prefer, probiotic foods, or supplements?
Are Probiotics Good for You? BBC Video
Here is a BBC video of a trial to test the effectivity of probiotics.The video actually promotes skepticism towards the supplements in pharmacies. And based on their research I would too. Their mistakes in approaching the subject were that they tested is on healthy people, (it is apparent from the video), and they tested too many brands, instead of focusing on just one known to be effective. Even though the scientific approach is not correct, we can draw an important conclusion: Not all supplements are equal.
How Can I Get Lactobacillus Rhamnosus in a Supplement?
Lactobacillus Rhamnosus can be found naturally in raw milk, and very few commercial yogurts. But because raw milk is illegal in North America, there is practically impossible to get it naturally. Lactobacillus GG is a miracle bacteria, which has been shown to help in the following conditions: atopic dermatitis, diarrhea, urogenital tract protection, anxiety, abdominal pain, Crohn's disease, vaginitis, constipation. Probably the most undiscussed benefit is its capability to help us deal with the digestion and absorption of proteins. You probably know that many times atopic dermatitis, and food allergies are related to protein intolerance, see the link? As an interesting fact, Lactobacillus rhamnosus is not a normal inhabitant of our guts, so normally, it will eventually disappear from our intestinal flora. This makes Culturelle one of the few supplements that I find useful for a someone with a good diet.
Culturelle are the among the best probiotic supplements. When you get their product you know they are going to work, and the product works as advertised. This product contains 15 billion live cells per capsule, which is not much compared to other products in the market. However, this seems to be the magic number with Lactobacillus GG.
How to Make Sauerkraut, Fermented Cucumbers, and Vegetables
- In a 1-quart mason jar add your vegetables, nicely cut on a mandolin, or just cut. I usually put cauliflower, carrots, small cabbage cut in two or four, small onions, celery root, and beets. I add hot peppers for spiciness, but that is totally up to you.
- Add garlic cloves, black pepper, and dill for spice.
- Add salted water to cover the vegetables. The water needs to be salted with coarse salt, in a proportion of 1 tablespoon to four cups of water.
- Add a root of horseradish, or some leaves if you don't have the root. Alternatively, you can use oak or grape leaves. The tannin in the horseradish will help preserve the crunchiness, especially for cucumbers, which tend to get mushy when sour-pickled.
- Keep your jar in a warm but not hot place for fermentation. A widely used technique is to add lactic acid to the mix to help the fermentation. I prefer the fermentation without lactic acid, but it is a bit risky because your pickles can get mushy. The fermentation with lactic acid will develop more of the specific lactic acid bacteria more quickly. Lactic acid bacteria is a great probiotic, and it will kill the wild bad bacteria that spoils the pickles. It's your choice.
- Eat your brine sour with pork or legumes. The pickles will help the digestion of proteins. I also recommend humus, or beans paste, or bean soup with pickles as a delicious and healthy meal.
Side Effects of Probiotics
For most of the people, overdosing on probiotics is just unpleasant. It can happen after both eating probiotic food or taking supplements. The most serious reaction microorganisms is acute diarrhea, and believe me, you don't want to happen to you.
The best way to start with supplements or cultured foods is with caution. Start with a low dosage and increase over time. At first, you will certainly get some gas and bloating, but this will disappear after a few days up to a month. Here is my first-hand experience.
My parents used to always have sauerkraut, which was not a regular food in my house. During a visit to my parents, I had a little too much sauerkraut brine (yummy and delicious) as in about three cups. My stomach was upset for about a week and the first days were dreadful.
Common side effects from eating too much probiotics include:
- gas (and the inherent abdominal pain that comes with these)
- constipation (it is very common to get constipated when you start on probiotics. Adding some extra physical activity to your daily routine will encourage a bowel movement.)
Drink more water than usual, since many fermented foods are salty. If you have health problems that keep you on a low-salt regimen, avoid the brine pickles, as they are very salty.
Probiotic Foods Confusions
I have seen some lists that include soy milk and chocolate. Neither of the two, in their natural state, contain beneficial microorganisms. There is no fermentation involved, therefore bacteria doesn't exist. However, there are specific products made with soy milk or chocolate that contain added bacteria. There are also fermented soy milk products, where the soy milk is fermented with a special bacillus, that can thrive in the lactose-free medium. Chocolate needs to be enriched by adding the cultures during the fabrication, and this way it becomes a delicious and nutritious supplement.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Questions & Answers
Is home made Greek yogurt and fermenting foods best ? How do I get the most strains of probiotics?
I include on my list of fermented foods water kefir, and milk kefir. Both of these have over 30 strains each, which is a great variety.
However, the best way to go about improving your gut flora is yo eat a variety of prebiotics. If you get heartburns from the fiber, eat more fermented vegetables, (that alleviates it), and try supplements for acid reflux.
© 2013 Dorian Bodnariuc