Probiotics are “good” bacteria and yeast that help in digestion and the proper functioning of the gut. They are called good bacteria because they help to keep the gut flora healthy. Our gut has its own ecosystem hence the term ‘flora’ is used to describe it. It is related to our immune system’s proper functioning, and keeping the gut clean helps to stay healthy.
Our body has both good and bad bacteria in a balanced form, but when the harmful bacteria exceed the number of good bacteria, we fall ill. So, we need to add more good bacteria to fight the bad ones and keep our bodies balanced. Research has shown that consuming probiotic foods helps in the proper functioning of the gut and to keeps the gut microbiome healthy.
Probiotics foods are primarily found in fermented foods. Fermentation is the chemical process of breaking down sugars in the food by bacteria and yeast to help preserve the food for more extended periods of time. However, not all fermented foods possess probiotic microorganisms.
Here Are Some Probiotic Foods To Add To Your Diet
1. DOSA & IDLI
These staple South Indian dishes top the list since it is consumed in southern India and throughout the country. Almost every city has multiple south Indian eateries that serve these delicacies. People prefer these foods because they are cooked in less oil than the north Indian foods, which are primarily deep-fried and require lots of oil in the cooking process. But that is not the only advantage it possesses.
These foods are made by fermenting rice and lentils over several days, which leads to the growth of good bacteria, aka probiotics. Because of fermentation, it has a good amount of live culture bacteria. These dishes are an excellent alternative to other healthy snacks and keep you full minus the sugar and junks.
Not inherently an Indian dish, yogurt has been a part of Indian cuisine for a long time. Yogurt is one of the simple and best sources of probiotics. It is made from fermenting milk using a souring agent like lemon or lactic acid bacteria. Milk is first heated and stirred for a long time, and then a souring agent is added to make it curdle and release the water. This helps to separate the solids from the liquid. The water is then discarded, and the curdled milk is left to solidify. After a few days of solidification, it becomes the consumable yogurt.
Yogurt is consumed as a side dish in the form of raita or as standalone yogurt. It is also consumed after a meal to cleanse the palate since it has a rather plain sour taste. Lassi, a popular drink made from yogurt, is consumed as a refreshing drink in hot summers. Yogurt is also used in a lot of Indian dishes.
Another popular side dish found in an Indian household is pickles. Pickles are vegetables that are fermented over the course of several days with oil or water, spices, and salt. This fermentation makes pickles a rich source of probiotics.
Pickles are made using a variety of vegetables which are found commonly in the region. The most common ones are made of mango, carrot, lemon, chilies, garlic. Homemade pickles are a better choice than store-bought ones.
Making Paneer is similar to making yogurt, which makes it another healthy source of probiotics. Paneer is a popular choice among vegetarians. Paneer can be added to salads to make them more nutritious and more wholesome. There are also various vegetarian dishes which are made with paneer.
Kimchi is one such food rising in popularity due to the Hallyu wave or the Korean wave. It is a rich source of probiotics. Korean dramas have always grandly shown their food, and one of the items is Kimchi. Kimchi is a Korean side dish that is almost always had with a meal. It is made from fermenting vegetables like cabbage, radish, cucumber, and many more.
Kimchi is made by first soaking the vegetables in saltwater to soften them. Then the saltwater is discarded. The vegetable is marinated with a mixture of rice powder paste, Korean red chili pepper powder, garlic, spring onion and left to ferment in an air-tight container for a few days. It is then shifted to a refrigerator to ferment for more days until it becomes sour and is finally ready to be eaten.
Sauerkraut is the western counterpart of Kimchi found in Europe. It is made similarly by dry-curing shredded cabbage with salt. It is then left to ferment for a few weeks. The resultant product has a sour taste and is an excellent source of probiotics. Sauerkraut also has cancer-fighting properties.
Sauerkraut cultured in vinegar is not as potent as the dry-cured ones, so it should be avoided. So, while shopping sauerkraut, always choose the unpasteurized ones.
Miso, originating from Japan, is made by fermenting soybeans with salt and a fungus called koji. It is an excellent source of probiotics and vitamins, minerals, and plant compounds, including vitamin K, manganese, and copper.
According to many research pieces, miso is said to contain approximately 10² to 10⁷ colony-forming units (CFU) per gram of probiotics, making it a potent form of probiotics. Miso is primarily consumed in the form of miso soup which is a staple Japanese dish.
Kombucha is fermented green or black tea which is fermented by a friendly colony of bacteria and yeast. Kombucha has recently gained popularity with social media influencers promoting this drink and its benefits. It is preferred to have this drink non-pasteurized to get its maximum benefits. A low-sugar refrigerated version is also preferred.
Tempeh is a vegetarian substitute for meat consumed widely in Indonesia. It is made from fermented soybeans, which has phytic acid, which disrupts the absorption process of zinc and iron. Fermentation helps to lower the amount of phytic acid and allows for better absorption of these minerals. The fermentation process also produces vitamin B12 which soybeans naturally do not possess.
Vitamin B12 is a common animal protein that is found in fish, meat, dairy, so the fermentation process allows tempeh to be an ideal meat substitute.
Kefir is a popular choice for lactose intolerants who want to incorporate probiotics into their diet. Kefir is made by adding kefir grains to milk, allowing it to ferment. The fermentation process allows the lactose in the milk to turn into lactic acid and gives the final product a sour taste. Kefir, along with being a great source of probiotics, is also known to improve the digestive system and bone health.
Buttermilk is the leftover liquid after making butter. It is low in fat and calories and makes it an ideal choice for those who watch for calories in their food. It is made when the liquid after making butter comes into contact with the surrounding air, and the bacteria in it converts the lactose into lactic acid.
It is recommended to consume the traditional buttermilk instead of the cultured version since the later is devoid of any probiotics.
Add any of these probiotic foods to your diet to enjoy a problem-free stomach and clean gut flora. Your body will thank you later!