Probiotics are foods that help build the population of healthy bacteria in the gut. Why is this so important to human health? Because poor digestive health leads to a wide range of health issues from allergies to many forms of cancer.
Antibiotics kill healthy bacteria. As a healthy adult, we are supposed to carry around 3 – 4 pounds of ‘good’ bacteria and yeast in our gut. But, every time you take antibiotics – you kill beneficial bacteria inside the digestive tract.
Eventually a condition called dysbiosis can occur – which can cause arthritis, autoimmune illness, vitamin B deficiency, chronic fatigue syndrome, food allergies and food sensitivities, irritable bowel disorders plus skin problems like, eczema and psoriasis.
Naturally, antibiotics may be necessary – in some cases. But, if your doctor prescribes antibiotics without mentioning the need for probiotics, then I would question his professional experience.
Natural foods to improve digestive health
Try eating fresh sauerkraut and pickles. Finely shredded cabbage, which gets fermented, is a super-rich source of probiotics. A 2007 study, published in the journal of Applied and Environmental Microbiology revealed that more than 13 different species of gut-friendly bacteria are present in sauerkraut. Naturally speaking, pickles and sauerkraut are some of the best foods to eat – especially after a heavy dose of antibiotics.
Fortunately, it’s quite easy to make your own sauerkraut – at home – by combining finely shredded cabbage with Himalayan sea salt. Just store it in a mason jar at room temperature. The cabbage, in the presence of sea salt, releases water and the surface bacteria on the cabbage helps in the process of fermentation.
If you want to buy sauerkraut, be sure to avoid the ‘commercial’ varieties that are heat-treated and pasteurized for obvious reasons. My personal favorite, store brand, is from Real Pickles.
Miso soup is one the mainstays of traditional Japanese medicine and is commonly used in macrobiotic cooking as a digestive regulator. Made from fermented rye, beans, rice or barley – you can easily add a tablespoon of miso paste to hot water to make an excellent (quick), probiotic-rich soup. One of my favorite companies for quality miso paste is South River Miso Company.
Kefir, which is similar to yogurt, is a fermented dairy product. High in lactobacilli and bifidus bacteria, kefir is also rich in antioxidants. Look for a good, organic version at your local health food store.
Kombucha is a form of fermented tea that contains a high amount of healthy gut bacteria. This probiotic drink has been used for centuries as a natural way to boost energy levels, improve digestion and achieve weight loss goals. Just keep in mind that kombucha, with its natural sugars, may not be for everyone – especially if you suffer with candida.
Tempeh – providing it’s non-GMO – is a probiotic rich, fermented soybean product. It’s also a delicious meat substitute for vegetarians or vegans and a nice source of vitamin B12.
Kimchi is the Asian form of pickled sauerkraut. It’s actually an extremely spicy and sour fermented cabbage – typically served in Korea. Kimchi is rich in beta-carotene, calcium, iron and vitamins A, C, B1 and B2 plus a great source of probiotics – providing you can handle the spicy flavor.
Remember, to restore your gut bacteria, it is also important to consume a variety of raw fruits and vegetables – as often as possible. We say ‘raw’ because, although most produce gets washed before consumption, some bacteria clings to the surface – which provides natural probiotic benefits.
Improving gut health is relatively inexpensive and loaded with health benefits like a stronger immune system and greater clarity of mind. If you suffer from serious health problems – work with an experienced healthcare provider to restore healthy bacteria today.