What does the term “probiotics” exactly does it mean? 

Literally, probiotics means “for life” (from the Greek “pro”-for and “bios”-life) and is the name given to the friendly intestinal microflora and beneficial bacteria that reside within all of us.  They help to strengthen our bodies and immune systems, and can lessen our dependence on antibiotics. People who regularly consume probiotics are better equipped to fight the growth of disease-causing bacteria. 

There are many enjoyable ways to increase your probiotic intake through food. You may have even tried some of them without knowing it!

1) Sauerkraut : German Tradition Meets Aphrodisiac

Arguably the best, most hypoallergenic and digestible form of probiotics is sauerkraut. It’s loaded with extra B vitamins and vitamin C. Studies being done in Finland and in the Unites States suggest that fermented cabbage offers more of an anti-carcinogenic effect than its raw or cooked relatives. 

A study by the University of Michigan and the WFNRI evaluated eating sauerkraut at least 3X/week significantly reduces the risk of breast cancer. Certain compounds in sauerkraut have been identified to block the action of estrogen, a hormone that breast cancers can rely on to grow. Iso-thiocyanates, compounds found in the fermented cabbages, have been recognized to have anti-cancer properties.

2) Kombucha : It’s Alive!  Medicinal Qualities of the Fermented Mushroom Tea

Kombucha is a popular healthful beverage and natural folk remedy made by fermenting mushroom tea. It produces a refreshingly light, sparkling, sweet & sour drink with a fruity fragrance full of healthy acids and nutrients.

 The Kombucha culture (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeasts) ferments and produces valuable substances: glucuronic acid, glucon acid, lactic acid, vitamins, amino acids, 0.5% to 1% alcohol is produced as well as other products. 

 Benefits of Kombucha:

► Cleanses toxins from the system

 ► Regulates digestion by replenishing intestinal flora

► Improves eyesight

► Boosts energy long and short-term  

► Improves circulation 

► Reduces systemic inflammation

► Heals bladder infections

► Helps with weight loss

► Reduces high blood pressure

► Clears up skin problems including acne and eczema 

► Improves overall feeling of well-being

 ► Detoxifies the liver

► Helps ease fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue  

 

Many who drink the Kombucha report elevated feelings of energy and a sense of well-being.  Those considering a spring detox program should try Kombucha.  It helps to naturally balance body chemistry, allowing our organs to work more efficiently and make it inhospitable for the micro-organisms that cause sickness. You may notice effectiveness with as little as 4 oz per day.

3) Kefir :  A Beverage that Aids in Digestion

Kefir is very similar to yogurt; both contain beneficial bacteria, are cultured milk products, and come in several flavors. That, however, is where the similarities end. 

While yogurt contains transient beneficial bacteria that provide food for the permanent residents of the GI Track and helps to keep the digestive system clean, kefir actually colonizes the GI tract.  Kefir contains several strains of bacteria: Lactobacillus Caucasus, Leuconostoc, Acetobacter species, and Streptococcus species.

Kefir also contains good yeasts such as Saccharomyces kefir and Torula kefir, which help to remove detrimental pathogenic yeasts from the body.  The yeasts strengthen intestinal lining, making the body more resistant to bugs like E. Coli, Clostridium, and parasites. 

Kefir’s active yeasts and bacteria keeps the colon clean and healthy.  This product is easier to digest because of the smaller curd size, and it’s very nutritious food for babies and young children.  Check your local supermarket for this super-food.

 4) Cheese : So Many Varieties, So Little Time!

Aged and cottage cheeses are wonderful sources of lactic acid bacteria and probiotics.  The longer cheese is aged for, the more probiotics and meta-biotics (beneficial byproducts released as the probiotics digest their food) it will contain. Cheese production uses starter bacteria, but during the ripening process, other probiotic bacteria spontaneously grow.  Do yourself a favor; have some cheese with that!  

5) Yogurt : Celebrate the Culture Revolution

Yogurt is the best known member of the probiotics family and most of us find it to be a tasty treat.  Not all yogurts are created equal, so check labels for these items:

  • Live and active cultures
  • Non-pasteurized (Pasteurization destroys the beneficial bacteria in the yogurt, reducing its health benefits.)
  • Check the expiration date!  Yogurt that has gone past the expiration date may not have as many active cultures in it.
  • Plain yogurt is actually best. The fruit-added varieties contain more sugar and are more expensive. For natural flavor, mix in honey, real fruit or real fruit jams or jellies.

In modern times, while access to food is more abundant than ever before, we are seeing an increase in people’s base weight… especially in the U.S.  Meanwhile, our bodies are essentially “starving” for the nutrients they need! 

So, give your body a tasty and healthy way to balance itself.  The changes will be satisfying, delicious and apparent almost immediately!