Posts tagged with ‘digestive health’

19 jun

Eat Your Way to Digestive Health

RobertCordrayProbiotics. The very name is indicative of their benefits: it comes from the Greek words pro, denoting promoting, and biotic, which means life. Probiotics are “friendly” bacteria that live in our digestive systems and keep harmful bacteria at bay. A healthy level helps keep us disease-free.

However, sometimes we need a bit of help. Antibiotics treat anything from strep throat to skin infections. However, as they work their magic, these drugs have a down side. They unfortunately do not discriminate; for they kill beneficial bacteria along with the bad guys. The result is diarrhea, gas, and bloating. Too-low levels of probiotics can also lead to vaginal yeast and urinary tract infections and diarrhea from intestinal illnesses. What’s more, healthy bacteria keep immune responses such as inflammation under control, reducing the symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease. For all these reasons, a regimen of probiotic supplements is vital to restore healthy bacteria to our digestive tract.

There’s a more enjoyable way to bring friendly bacteria to an optimum level than popping pills. Happily, many foods are probiotic powerhouses and have the added benefit of being great sources of natural vitamins.. Here are a few that are guaranteed to keep a healthy number of the good guys in our bodies.


Mostly made from fermented cabbage (and occasionally other vegetables), sauerkraut is chock-full of beneficial live cultures. Not only that, because of probiotics’ ability to keep immune system reactions in check, it can relieve allergy symptoms. Sauerkrauts’ abundance of vitamins B, A, E and C is an added bonus. For those who like their food spicy, kimchi (sauerkraut’s Korean cousin) is one of the best sources of probiotics there is. It’s also a nutritional powerhouse: beta-carotene, calcium, iron and vitamins A, C, B1 and B2 are present in ample quantities.


Kefir (pronounced ke-FEER) is a probiotic-rich grain that, when added to milk, begins a fermentation process. The result is a beverage full of a variety of healthy bacteria, including Lactobacillus Caucasus and Streptococcus, and an abundance of helpful yeasts. Kefir milk may be a bit sour, so many add fruit or sweeteners. While you can find kefir in health food and specialty stores, it’s easy to make your own. For people who can’t tolerate dairy, almond and other nut milks, coconut milk, coconut water, and even plain water are used to make kefir that has all the benefits of the milk variety.

Miso Soup

Miso, a product of fermented soy, rye, beans, rice, or barley, is a probiotic dynamo: it has been reported to contain a whopping 160-plus strains of friendly bacteria. A spoonful of the paste added to vegetable broth or hot water makes a delicious soup that will keep your digestive system running strong.

Pickles and Olives

Lovers of these foods can rejoice: they are excellent sources of friendly bacteria. Look for unpasteurized, sodium benzoate-free, active cultured organic varieties where vinegar was not employed in the pickling process. Sea salt and water are a good medium for the growth of healthy bacteria. With a bit of effort, you can keep your digestive system strong by indulging in these can’t-eat-just-one goodies.


Everyone knows the benefits of this powerhouse. Yogurt made with live cultures needs no introduction. Whether plain, sweetened with fruit, or enhanced with vanilla and other flavors, this food is a delicious way to keep probiotic levels high. The protein, calcium, and other nutrients make yogurt a perfect food.

Kombucha Tea

Tea lovers, rejoice. This fermented drink, available in Japanese and health food shops, is a great source of friendly bacteria. It’s delicious hot or iced. A word of caution: it’s not a good choice for people with candida problems.

Since there’s a beneficial-bacteria-high food to suit every taste, it’s easy to keep your digestive tract–and you–going strong. You don’t need to be recovering from illness or living with a chronic condition to reap the benefits.

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Posted by Robert Cordray on June 19th, 2014 in Health | No comments Read related posts in , , ,