There has been a lot of interest in probiotic foods lately, thanks to lessons signifying that friendly bacteria could help to treat or prevent an array of ailments: from irritable bowel syndrome to indigestion and diarrhea to chronic inflammation — the root cause of diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Sauerkraut keeps cabbage fresh for months and provides outstanding health benefits in the form of probiotics and nutrients that the plant in its natural form doesn’t have.
Every study performed on the obese people which inspected gut bacteria, founded higher instances of “bad” bacteria and lower levels of probiotics (again, the “good” bacteria) within these individuals. Keeping the ideal ratio of “good bacteria” (probiotics) to “bad bacteria” is now gaining appreciation as maybe the most important step you can take to protect your health and fat loss goals.
These are the signs that your intestinal bacterial balance is beginning to go out of control, such as:
• Acid reflux
• An inability to lose weight
• Gas and bloating
• Constipation and/or diarrhea
• Skin problems
• Overall sickness
• Urinary tract infections
• Trouble sleeping
• Sugar cravings, especially for heavily refined carbs
Ideal healthy ratio of “good” to “bad” bacteria is 85% to 15%, or 9 to 1. How can you re-balance your gut bacteria ratio and begin experiencing weight loss benefits for yourself? You should eat more probiotic food and lower your sugar, artificial sweeteners, processed food, antacids, laxatives and antibiotic intake. Superfoods recommended are yogurt, any fermented veggies (cabbage, cucumbers), kimchee and kefir. Now, make sure that you know the difference between pickled and naturally fermented.
Pickled means that the veggie is preserved in some acidic liquid, usually vinegar. But these veggies are NOT fermented and do not offer the probiotic and enzymatic value of naturally fermented vegetables. Basic home recipe for fermented veggies include salt and water and process of fermentation creates its own acidic liquid as a by-product. So, naturally fermented veggies are both fermented and pickled.
Lactobacilli found in all veggies are causing fermentation and lactic acid is the one that pickles and preserves the vegetables. It also promotes the health:
• Enhances the vitamin content of the food.
• Preserves and sometimes enhances the enzyme content of the food.
• Improves nutrient bio-availability in the body.
• Improves the digestibility of the food and even cooked foods that are consumed along with it!
Factory preservation of veggies is done by high heat and pressure and that destroys nutrients. Make sure that you carefully check whether the store bought pickled veggies are factory pickled or naturally fermented. You will probably find some naturally fermented food in health food stores. Check the label in any case and if it uses vinegar, it’s probably fake, because vinegar is used in mass production. You can easily make your own at home, it’s easy, quick and inexpensive. Check appendix B for some recipes.
Fermented foods are rich in “good” probiotic bacteria, and their consumption will help to rebalance your overall gut bacteria ratio. The next step is to avoid virtually all sugar in your diet. Eating sugar laden foods actually feeds the bad or pathogenic bacteria, fungi and yeast in your gut, which can actually have more of a negative influence on your health than sugar’s impact on blood sugar and insulin resistance. What’s more, artificial sweeteners are even worse than regular sugar because it contains a chlorine that kills off the good bacteria in your gut just like chlorine destroys microorganisms in swimming pools.
Sauerkraut and Kim Chee are ancient superfoods that are beginning to make a comeback because of their unique taste and benefits of ‘good bacteria’. Fresh cabbage is already full of bacteria required to lacto ferment itself. Sauerkraut fermentation process is accomplished with lactic acid bacteria processing the sugar of the cabbage in a process similar to how yogurt is made. Just like yogurt, the fermentation procedure makes cabbage better and more digestible than the plant in its original form. In addition to creating a naturally occurring probiotic supplement, fermentation adds other nourishing benefits as well. Cabbage in its raw form contains materials called ‘goitrogens’ that can block the production of thyroid hormone, but goitrogens are reduced or eliminated through the fermentation process. This is very important for people which suffer from low thyroid. Those people should eat more sauerkraut or cooked cabbage then raw cabbage. I’m one of those people and I try to eat raw cabbage included in my salad only 2-3 times a week. Sauerkraut is actually higher in B vitamins than cabbage, particularly in vitamin B12, and that makes sauerkraut a perfect food for vegans. Just as kimchi, sauerkraut is high in vitamin C and digestive enzymes. It is also a good source of natural lactic acid bacteria such as pediococcus and lactobacillus.
If you’re buying sauerkraut in a jar, make sure that it says ‘Raw’ or ‘Unpasteurized’ in order to make sure that it’s a ‘living’ food with valuable bacteria. Even better, homemade sauerkraut is a simple and inexpensive way to get an effective natural probiotic ‘supplement’ that won’t require taking any pills, powders or potions.
One of the best probiotic foods is live-cultured yogurt, especially homemade. Look for Greek low fat yogurt or check goat’s milk yogurt that has been infused with probiotics like lactobacillus or acidophilus. Goat’s milk and cheese are particularly high in probiotics like bifudus, thermophillus, bulgaricus and acidophilus. Double check the ingredients list, as not all Yogurt is made similarly. Some popular brands are filled with high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners and artificial colors, so they’re basically sugary, fatty ice cream. Choose Greek or plain low fat instead. If you don;t like sauerkraut and you don’t drink yogurt, I suggest that you take a probiotic supplement.
The Health Benefits of Probiotics:
• Enhanced immune system response
• Calms colon irritation following surgery
• Alleviates negative effects of taking many types of antibiotics
• Increased ability to digest food
• Helps to support healthy skin in youth
• Increases ability to assimilate the nutrients from food
• Acts as a remedy for bad breath (halitosis)
• Therapeutic for upper respiratory complaints
• Reduces lactose intolerance
• Reduces incidence of vaginitis, yeast infections and candidiasis
• Alleviates many common digestive disorders such as constipation, diarrhea and IBS
• Increases ability to synthesize vitamin B
• Increases ability to absorb calcium