Probiotics: Extra Sauerkraut on the Hot Dog Please!Nutrition | Dr. Nishant Rao | May 16, 2009 at 5:07 pm
There are always raging debates about the origin of humankind, but here is one undeniable fact: You are a mobile fleshy feeding tube!
You have two openings, an inlet/outlet, and a tunnel which is technically exposed to the outside world. This tunnel, also known as your GI tract, is not a sterile environment and is loaded with bacteria. Seriously loaded.
There are ten times the amount of bacterial cells in your GI tract than there are human cells in your entire body. Makes you wonder who’s in charge, doesn’t it? I mean, are we just a complex machine designed as a way to transport bacteria?
I’ve heard this debate before because 70% of your immune system is tucked into your innards. That’s right, welcome to the single most important terrain in your body. This relationship between us and ‘them’ is completely symbiotic of course, and we need each other to survive.
Whether by observation or insight, traditional cultures must have known about the importance of probiotics because there is no culture which does not have a fermented food as part of their everyday diet.
Lacto-fermentation creates a plate, mug or bowl full of delicious probiotic laden food which actually adds to the beneficial terrain in your GI tract. There are 1000s of varieties of foods, some which may seriously surprise your palate!
Here are some gut loving fermented foods from several different regions (this barely scratches the surface of what’s out there):
- Japan: Miso, Kombucha, Tempeh, Nattō
- Korea: Kimchi, Gochujang
- South East Asia: Atchara, Fish sauce, Oncom
- China: Soy sauce, Lufu, Doubanjiang, Douchi, Fermented Tofu
- India: Dosa, Idli, Dhokla, Achar, Mixed Pickle
- Middle East: Kaymak, Doogh, Labne, Yogurt
- Europe: Yogurt, Pickles, Sauerkraut, Kefir, Rakfisk, Skyr, Sour cream, Crème fraîche, Cheese.
- Africa: Injera, Tapai, Mageu, Ogi, Iru
- South America: Chicha, Pulque,
- North America: Igunaq
- General: Most vinegars, raw apple cider vinegar.
The most readily available in Western supermarkets are miso, fish sauce, yogurt, pickles, sour cream, sauerkraut, raw apple cider vinegar. Incorporate more of these into your diet please! If you can find raw and organic so much the better as the concentration will be much higher. So much of your health resides in the terrain of your GI tract and getting some delicious traditional foods back in there will help populate the bacterial fields of your feeding tube. If my sister happens to read this perhaps she will be so kind as to post a recipe <wink-wink> that’s wicked easy to make, and includes some of these ‘super-foods‘.
What’s in it for you?
- Strengthen the immune system
- Improve digestion
- Decrease allergies and food sensitivities
- Decrease inflammation
- Keep harmful bacteria at bay
The alternative is supplementing with high quality probiotics. I am a quality freak when it comes to natural products. Most probiotics on the market either don’t contain live bacteria, or contain different bacteria than what is listed on the label – so don’t buy cheap bottles of dead stuff. Enteric coated it means that the capsule will not dissolve in the stomach saving the lil guys from a serious gastric burn. The raw powder or non enteric capsules use a high dose theory whereby some bacteria are sacrificed as collateral, ensuring that a few make it down to the depths of your colon. Both ways show positive results when the bacteria are alive to begin with.
Prebiotics are non digestible polysaccharides which feed the beneficial gut flora and stimulate their growth. You might see them listed as FOS (or XOX /GOS) along with plant sources such as inulin. They’re great and some food companies are actually trying to incorporate them into every day foods.
Healthy gut flora is a core basic treatment guideline for optimum health. Get some.
Dr. Nishant Rao is a co-founder of WellWire.com. He is a well-traveled naturopathic doctor and new father, practicing an integrative approach to create wellness in and around Los Angeles. Become a patient or discover his practice.