When it comes to your health, your gut (and probiotics) is where it all begins. But we often end up ignoring the gut and the balance of good and bad bacteria in it. To maintain proper immune responses and protect the gut from inflammation, good bacteria interacts with the gut lining and the immune system cells. Controlling immune responses is highly beneficial for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease.
It is these good bacteria that shape and strengthen the immune system. They stimulate positive immune responses, reduce inflammation, and protect the gut from damage. Bad bacteria, on the other hand, cause negative immune responses and encourage inflammation.
To maintain good health, you must maintain a proper balance of good and bad bacteria in your body. Here are the best three foods that will help ease body inflammation and also promote immune health in the body.
High Fibre Foods
Fibre is a carbohydrate found in plant-based foods that can be classified as soluble or insoluble. Soluble fibre absorbs water and forms a gel, which gut bacteria consume. Insoluble fibre, on the other hand, helps to bulk up your stool by passing through your digestive tract relatively undamaged. This promotes regular bowel movements by allowing food to pass more quickly through the gastrointestinal tract.
Both types of fibre help in better digestion and prevent constipation, which is beneficial to gut health.
Eating a high-fibre diet can also help you avoid gaining weight and developing chronic diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and certain types of cancer.
Choose from fibre-rich foods such as beans, dried peas and lentils; whole grains such as barley, quinoa and brown rice; whole grain foods such as cereals and pasta; and fruits with skins such as apples and pears, blueberries and strawberries, nuts, seeds etc.
Living microorganisms, such as the health-promoting microbes found in your gut, are also found in probiotic foods. Probiotic foods can help to increase the number of beneficial bacteria in your body.
Probiotic foods are created by adding microbes to food or allowing a fermentation process to occur in them. These include fermented soy foods, fermented milk, kimchi (fermented vegetables, cabbage: above), kombucha (fermented tea drink), yoghurt, etc.
While buying probiotic foods, always ensure to check for active cultures on the labels, which indicates that the bacteria in the foods are still alive. These living microbes are advantageous because they contribute to the existing community of living microbes in your gut.
Only consuming probiotic foods is not enough. The balance is always essential, which demands that prebiotic foods, too, be added to your diet for better gut health. These are nutrient-dense foods, effective in reducing inflammation and improving immunity, which effectively feed the good bacteria in your body to keep gut health in balance.
Prebiotic foods are foods that naturally contain soluble fibre. They contain inulin and various other soluble dietary fibre. They act as fuel for precise bacteria, thus further promoting the growth of more good bacteria.
Foods such as banana, asparagus, chicory, garlic, leeks, oats, onions and soybeans are rich prebiotic foods to include in your diet.
Other Steps To Good Gut Health
To have a positive impact on your gut, you need a lot of nutrients from a variety of foods. When the diet is more varied, the gut has more access to a variety of beneficial nutrients. Also, to ease inflammation and better immunity, fluid intake must not be ignored. It is necessary to stay hydrated throughout the day. Water not only allows fibre to do its job in your gut properly, but it also keeps your digestive system and the rest of your body running smoothly.
Foods with Natural Probiotics
You’ll find natural probiotics in fermented, or traditionally prepared foods. The process of fermentation is what populates these foods with probiotic bacteria. Fermentation has been around for millennia as a way to naturally preserve food.
During the fermentation process, the carbohydrates in the food begin to break down and interact with bacteria. The result is a tangy, often sour food that doesn’t expire easily. It’s also now filled with probiotics, which help the food’s nutrient bioavailability.
Let’s review ten of the best foods to find natural probiotics.
You may also like this article with the best gut healing foods, especially if you are one of the many people who suffer from digestive issues.
One of the world’s oldest fermented foods, sauerkraut or fermented cabbage, has origins in Asia. Sauerkraut is especially high in lactic acid, a source of probiotics. It’s also high in Vitamins K, A, B, and C.
Sauerkraut is tangy and somewhat crunchy and is best enjoyed as a condiment or a side dish.
Kefir is a drinkable source of probiotics, made from fermented milk or water. Kefir is often made with cow’s or goat’s milk, but can also be made from dairy-free milk such as coconut milk, or even water.
Kefir is the only source of a beneficial probiotic strain known as Lactobacillus Kefiri. It’s also high in B vitamins and is even more probiotic- and nutrient-dense than its cousin, yogurt.
Kimchi is a traditional Korean dish made from cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage and radishes, combined with spices such as red pepper and ginger.
The result is a spicy, tangy dish resembling spicy sauerkraut filled with lactic acid-based probiotics. The fermentation also makes the B vitamins and C vitamins in the food more bioavailable.
You can find prepared kimchi in the refrigerator section of most grocery stores.
Miso is a paste made from fermented soybeans used to flavor Japanese dishes like soups and salads. It has a salty, umami flavor and boasts an impressive nutrient profile.
Miso is rich in Vitamin K and other hard-to-get micronutrients like manganese, copper, and zinc.
Fermented soy foods like miso have also found to have less negative effects than unfermented soy products.
The most popular source of naturally-occurring probiotics, yogurt is a fermented milk product that has been around for a very long time. Like kefir, yogurt is usually made from cow’s milk, though it can also be made from goat’s, sheep’s, or non-dairy milk.
The fermentation process can make milk product more easily digestible for those with lactose sensitivity because the bacteria breaks down the milk sugar.
Yogurt is naturally tangy and quite sour, but can be sweetened or made more savory depending on preference. Dairy-based yogurt is especially high in vitamins D and K, along with potassium and calcium.
Tempeh is another soy-based probiotic food. Made from fermented soybeans that are formed into a block or patty, tempeh is commonly used as a meat replacement in vegetarian or vegan cuisine.
Rhizopus oligosporus and Lactobacillus plantarum are the probiotic strains in tempeh that greatly increase the digestibility and bioavailability of the soybeans. This fermented food has a strong earthy, nutty flavor and offers a plant-based source of protein, B vitamins, and Vitamin K.
Again, fermented soy products like miso and tempeh can be safer ways to eat soy.
Kombucha is a trendy beverage that is made from black tea and sugar, and fermented from colonies of bacteria that originate from a SCOBY. Kombucha has a vinegar or beer-like taste and a mild alcohol content (usually below 0.5% ABV.)
Partially due to its natural carbonation, kombucha is a popular alcohol or soda replacement and simply a fun, healthy drink that may offer a variety of health benefits.
There isn’t as much evidence to completely claim kombucha as a health food, but it does contain polyphenols from the tea and some amount of B vitamins and Vitamin C, along with natural sources of probiotics.