If you spent your holiday season eating, drinking and being merry, you may be one of the many people who are looking for a healthy menu makeover. Eating fermented foods rich in probiotics can get you back on track. Probiotic-rich foods introduce good bacteria to your body and help balance the bacteria in your gut, which is important to your health. A good bacteria balance can help boost your immune system and stimulate your digestive system, help regulate your hormones, and help control your appetite. Yogurt is probably the best-known probiotic food, but we’re introducing you to the five other tasty ways to consume beneficial bacteria.
Kombucha is a mixture of black tea and sugar that’s fermented by an organism of bacteria and yeast commonly known as a SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast). The SCOBY is a living colony of beneficial organisms that turn sugar into healthy acids and probiotics. Kombucha is a fizzy, low-sugar drink that many claim can help with liver detoxification, improved digestion and boosting the immune system. The best part of kombucha is the tangy flavour, making it a great substitute for sugary, carbonated drinks. Find it in a variety of flavours at your local specialty grocery store or health food store.
Miso is a smooth paste made by fermenting soybeans with grains and fungus. It’s most often found in Japanese cuisine — you may have enjoyed miso soup. It has a rich, sweet and salty flavour, full of umami, and is delicious in salad dressings, stir fries, dips or even baked goods.
Kimchi is a staple in Korean cuisine. The crunchy, spicy dish is a mix of fermented vegetables and seasonings, given a powerful flavour boost from red chili peppers. Kimchi can be used as a condiment, eaten alone or added to soup, stew or salad. Make sure you add it last in the cooking process as the heat can kill the beneficial enzymes found in this nutrient-rich food.
Natto is a traditional Japanese food made from fermented soybeans. It has a very unique pungent flavour, and is commonly mixed with rice and eaten for breakfast in Japan. Its brown, stringy appearance and cheese-like flavour makes it less popular than other fermented foods, but Natto is not only a probiotic, it’s rich in nutrients like protein, fiber and contains tons of vitamins.
Made by adding ‘grains’ to cow or goat’s milk, kefir is a fermented milk drink sold at most grocery stores. With a slightly sour flavour, the yogurt-like drink is best enjoyed plain. Beware when comparison shopping, as many flavoured kefir drinks contain added sugar.
Inspired? Learn how to brew kombucha.