12 Cultured Foods with Probiotics
Aug 26, 2016
The following are some examples of my favorite cultured foods to help maintain healthy probiotics for optimum gut – brain connection, plus good physical and emotional health.
Cultured (Fermented) Dairy
You can find true, natural cultured dairy in health food stores, farmers markets or you can even make it at home. There are online sources, books from the library and even local farmers or stores who sometimes offer classes on how to prepare it. Great sources of cultured dairy:
- Kefir – originating from Russia, this fermented milk is similar to yogurt, only it’s thinner and tangier and considered more of a drink.
- Yogurt - yogurt is one of our favorites in this country, but try to stay away from the high sugar, preservative loaded commercial yogurts and instead buy yours from reputable health food stores. Yogurt is high in potassium which is also helpful in keeping you calm and your mood elevated.
- Buttermilk - thicker than milk, but not as thick as kefir and not quite as sour either. This milk drink was originally what was left after making butter from cream, thus the name buttermilk.
- Sour cream - this creamy delight is made from fermenting cream and gets its sour taste from the lactic acid that is created by the bacteria during the fermentation process.
- Butter - not all butter is cultured. The process is taking cultured cream and then turning it to produce a more nutritious and even more delicious butter.
- Cottage cheese - and not all cottage cheese is cultured. This old fashioned process takes milk that is slowly allowed to sour, which produces a more tangy cottage cheese product that is bursting with probiotics.
Raw Fermented Vegetables
Turn your raw vegetables into “SUPER” – superfoods by fermenting them. Fermentation preserves the food, keeps the enzymes alive, produces even more enzymes and also provides an excellent source of probiotics. The beneficial lactic acids produced in fermenting helps keep the bad bacteria at bay and promote the good bacteria to flourish.
Keep in mind that for thousands of year’s generations of people from cultures all over the world have fermented foods as a way of preserving their food, and also to increase benefits and enjoyment of their food.
Raw fermented foods can be found in most health food stores since their popularity has started to grow in recent years throughout this country. Incorporate these enzyme rich foods into your diet on a daily basis for a healthy dose of enzymes, probiotics and nutrients. The pickles can be put on sandwiches and the cabbage based vegetable mixes can be enjoyable side to your meals. They also make for a great quick snack! Great sources of raw - fermented vegetables:
- Sauerkraut - translates to “sour cabbage” and is made by fermenting cabbage. It has been eaten in Eastern Europe for centuries and made most popular in this country by German cuisine.
- Kimchi - fermented napa cabbage, cucumber or radish that is loaded with spices such as garlic, ginger and chili pepper. This is a staple in Korean cuisine and can be found in Asian markets and many larger grocery stores throughout our country.
- Pickles - fermented cucumbers with herbs such as dill and garlic commonly added. Can be found raw in health food stores and in a variety of different herbal and spiced flavors.
- Mixed fermented vegetables – take your pick and get creative: radish, celery, carrots, scallions, cauliflower, jalapeno, garlic, green beans, asparagus, etc.
Another one of my favorite staples for healthy probiotics and promoting calm is kombucha tea. Freshly brewed kombucha carries the resonance of “ohm”, the sound made in many meditations. This beautiful, often effervescent tea takes 30 days to “brew” and actually results from a fungus that grows on the surface. That fungus has been called the "fungus of charity”.
First recorded in 220 BC, it is now consumed all around the world. The Chinese call it an "Immortal Health Elixir" because they believe kombucha balances the Spleen and Stomach energies as well as aids in digestion. By offering support in this way, kombucha can assist the body in healing many types of imbalances, often noted are its effects in prevention of breast cancer.
Kombucha is abundant in probiotics, which includes lactobacillus and S. boulardii. Lactobacillus bacterium, helps inhibit certain harmful bacteria and may also be anti-inflammatory and anti-cancerous. S. boulardii helps maintain and restore the natural flora in both the large and small intestine, and is a rather effective probiotic. Kombucha, therefore, can be highly beneficial for good digestion, a healthy colon, and boosting immune function.
- When you start drinking kombucha tea, start slowly with 2 ounces (1/2 cup) and then work your way up towards eight to twelve ounces per day if desired.
- Fresh Kombucha tea in glass bottles can be found in health food stores and sometimes in the natural foods section of larger grocery stores.
- Dried kombucha tea may not provide the same benefits as freshly brewed/ fermented kombucha that has never been dried.
- You can make fresh kombucha tea at home from scratch using a starter culture. There are books at stores and online that provide complete instruction on how to properly make kombucha.
Miso is a great example of a healthy fermented soybean product. Some experts even go as far as touting it to be a superfood that provides good bacteria and beneficial enzymes to support enhanced nutrient absorption, a calmer outlook and immune function.
Miso is a salty paste, similar in texture to hummus or nut butter. It is made from fermented soybean paste, salt and often times another base ingredient which is usually barley or rice. The fermenting process varies from short periods of time to even years. The color and depth of flavor varies due to length of fermentation time and additional ingredients.
You can find different types of miso, from a lighter yellow/tan in color which is lightly salty, all the way to dark brown in color with a really strong, salty flavor.
Miso is one of my long time favorites because it tastes salty and adds a healthy form of flavor. In addition, it is versatile. Use it to make a satisfying broth, add it to enhance nutrition and flavor in soups, and include it in almost anything you fix instead of salt including salad dressings, sauces and pasta. Our Japanese friends taught us to dip raw veggies into it and eat it as a dip. In Japan, families enjoy a nice cup of miso broth almost daily.
Be sure not to over-heat miso because you will then kill the enzymes and probiotics in it. Instead, add it at the end of cooking once the soup, stew, sauce, rice or pasta is already off the stove. For miso broth, heat water to warm, right around 105 degrees, then add a rounded teaspoon of miso and allow it to dissolve. Mix well and sip away. Try it – I bet you’ll like it!
Why are calming cultures and probiotics so important?
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Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treat. This information is based on research and knowledge by the author, and the ideas are not intended as substitute for medical advice. As with any products it is suggested that you check with your medical practitioner prior to use. The author disclaims any liability arising directly or indirectly from the use of any products mentioned herein.