Probiotics seem to be more popular than kale chips or hummus nowadays, but what are they really and how can they benefit the state of our overall health? Simply put, probiotics are the healthy living microbes (bacteria) that colonize in your intestines. They fend off germs by crowding out the bad bacteria and balancing the ratio of good to bad to work in our favor. Let’s back up . . .
What are antibiotics? We know those! Right? The medicine that doctors give us whenever we land ourselves in the doctors office with either a cough, sore throat, sinus problem, ear ache, etc. in order to cure our illness. But is that what they are really doing? Well, yes and no. If taking a closer look at antibiotics, they are specifically inhibiting or killing off the growth of any and all living bacteria in our bodies; that means the good, the bad, and the evil are all wiped out and in turn, yes the microorganism’s causing our infection are gone. What about the good ones? Well, they’re gone also.
So if antibiotics kill living microorganisms that must mean that probiotics promote the growth of microorganisms. Yes!!
Anti = bad
Pro = good
So how are these probiotics good for our health and what are some ways that you can incorporate them into your diet (yes, you can eat probiotics – not just take them in pill form)?
Probiotics rock, and here’s why:
– Digestion. They play a huge role in the absorption of nutrients from the food we eat. When you really sit and think about it
– How do our body systems function? Not individually, but as a team, starting from the smallest cell to the largest working organ. They all rely on chemical reactions that are fueled by the body’s nutrients to work. So if our bellies aren’t properly absorbing the nutrients from all the delicious food we are eating, how can the rest of our body systems do what they do and do it good?
– They aid in elimination. By helping us stay “regular” and fend off icky situations such as diarrhea and constipation.
– Probiotics boost our immune system by crowding out bad bacteria and keeping their status as reigning microbes of the gut. Long live probiotics!
– Naturally improve mood. Belly-bacteria have been known to play a positive role in the central nervous system, causing less distress and more sighs of relief.
– Help balance healthy blood sugar levels.
– Combats yeast/fungal infections
And so, so many more! I strongly encourage you to research probiotics yourself, and learn about the long list of benefits these friendly little guys (and gals) that live in our bellies provide, helping us move closer towards optimal health.
And if that isn’t enough… How can you incorporate living microorganisms into your diet? It’s oh so easy and delicious.
FERMENTED FOODS! Here’s a short list:
People have been fermenting foods FOREVER. It is just too easy, too much fun and too good for you to not start fermenting yourself. (Well, fermenting your foods – not yourself.) Remember what it was like to massage your first kale salad? Yes, fermenting is just as satisfying, if not more.
Gingery Red Cabbage Sauerkraut with Juniper Berries
For this recipe you need a big mixing bowl and an airtight jar – Preferably a glass jar specific for canning.
- 1 red cabbage, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon ginger, chopped
- 1 tablespoon juniper berries, whole
- 2 tablespoons sea salt
→ Thinly slice the cabbage and place into a large mixing bowl.
→ Sprinkle the cabbage with salt and begin to massage the cabbage until all water from the vegetable is released. This will take a good amount of massaging (maybe 10 minutes), so put on some good tunes and massage away! The cabbage will first begin to soften, then it will release moisture, and that moisture will begin to fizz. Massage until the cabbage is (mostly) submerged in it’s own liquid.
→ Mix in ginger and juniper.
→ Transfer to a clean jar, making sure to pack down the cabbage as you go.
→ Pour in all excess liquid. The cabbage should be completely submerged!
→ At this point you want to weigh the cabbage down as to keep it completely submerged during the entire fermentation process. You can use a smaller jar that will easily fit inside your large jar. Fill it with dried beans (for added weight).
→ Cover jar with cloth, seal with a rubber band and set aside in a warm, dry area of your kitchen.
→ Keep it there for at least a week!
Enjoy on salads, sandwiches, in soups or stews, in dumplings, make sauerkraut pancakes, do whatcha want!