7 Great “Natural Probiotics”

Integrative GP Dr Amy Gajjar identifies 7 “natural probiotics” to improve your health

Gut integrity is central to our overall health. Its importance cannot be over–emphasised. Our gut flora (mainly bacteria) play a significant part in helping maintain our wellness (e.g. immune function, vitamin production, neuro-transmitter production, detoxification, digestion, anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties) so it is important to ensure we have a good balance of the “good” and the “bad” bacteria.
When there is an imbalance in the gut, we refer to this as “gut dysbiosis”. Dysbiosis contributes to increased intestinal permeability, commonly known as “leaky gut,” which lends itself to many ailments and illnesses.
It’s a great idea to incorporate “natural probiotics” as part of our healthy eating plan. Here are just a list of seven probiotics that can be included daily.

1. YOGHURT

Yoghurt is one of the best probiotic foods available to us and is easy to incorporate into the diet. It contains good bacteria like lactobacilli and bifidobacteria.
Yoghurt can easily be made at home or bought at a Deli and includes sheep and goat’s milk yoghurt. It works well as a mix with nuts, seeds, berries & chia seeds. However, do be careful of some common brands as there may be added sugar, artificial flavours and sweeteners.

2. MISO SOUP
Miso is widely used in Japan medicinally and as a popular breakfast soup. Miso paste/powder can be added to hot water to make a quick nutritious soup or base for any soup. Miso contains several probiotic strains as well as other nutrients like B vitamins and antioxidants.

3. TEMPEH
Used widely in Indonesia, Tempeh is fermented soybeans and can be used in a similar way to tofu. Tempeh has a nutty and smoky taste. Tempeh is rich in protein, makes a great meat substitute and can be used in stir fries, soups and curries.

4. KOMBUCHA
Kombucha, a fermented tea drink, is thought to have been used for over a 1000 years in Russia and Japan for it’s health benefits in digestion/reflux, cleansing and vitality. Kombucha is a healthy refreshing drink and can be a good soft drink substitute. Available in different flavours including Ginger –fantastic tasting (almost as good as Bundaberg Ginger Beer!)

5. KEFFIR
Keffir has been used for over 300 years and is well known for it’s health benefits in digestion and vitality. Keffir is a probiotic (bacteria and yeast strains) that can be used to make something that is similar to yoghurt. It is available as a powder to be mixed with different milks or it can be bought ready-made. Eg. Coconut keffir, goats /cows milk keffir. Keffir has Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria probiotics as well as antioxidants. As with yoghurt, nuts, seeds and berries can be added to keffir to make a yummy and nutritious breakfast.

6. FERMENTED VEGETABLES- SAUERKRAUT, KIM CHI
These are essentially fermented cabbage or vegtable products.
Sauerkraut comes from Germany. It has various probiotics strains including Lactobacilli plantarum which can help with digestive problems.
Kim chi is Korean- and often has added chili if you prefer a bit of spice! Kim chi is also rich in other nutrients like vitamins A, B1,B2 and iron.
Fermented vegetables generally are great as they also contain many other nutrients and are easy to digest.

7. PICKLES
Pickles are a surprisingly good source of probiotics, especially sour pickles, and can also aid digestion. After drying out your choice of pickle in the sun, they can then be mixed in salt / water (this encourages probiotic growth) and eaten with meals.

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