It’s not very often I come across a type of food that literally changes my life. Pizza comes close (!) but in terms of health and weight loss, I’m actually talking about kefir – something I’m going to tell you all about a little later.
It’s all about the probiotics
Kefir is an excellent source of probiotics. Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for your health, especially your digestive system.
You have billions of bacteria living in your digestive system – or at least, you should have. However, eating too much sugar, taking antibiotics, stress, and eating animals that have been treated with antibiotics can mean your good bacteria levels can fall and your bad bacteria levels can rise. This is a problem!
The problems of low levels of gut bacteria
Lack of healthy gut bacteria can lead to a wide range of problems including:
- Digestive upset
- Bloated tummy
- Acid reflux and heartburn
- Suppressed immune system
- Systemic inflammation
- Leaky gut syndrome
- And many other medical conditions
Why is a lack of healthy bacteria so serious? Basically, your digestive system is like a “second brain” and effects virtually every other system in your body. If you cannot digest food properly, the rest of your body will suffer. It doesn’t matter if you are eating a “healthy” diet, if your digestive system isn’t working properly, your body won’t get the nutrients it needs. That’s why healthy bacteria and probiotics are something you should care about!
70 million Americans suffer from issues directly related to digestion – many of which could be fixed quickly and easily with probiotics.
The benefits of probiotics
Probiotics repopulate your healthy bacteria. Once ingested, they take up residence in your digestive system and multiply. In doing so, they drive out unhealthy bad bacteria and make sure your digestive system can work properly. Probiotics are very healthy and beneficial and can help with:
- boosting immune system
- prevent and treat urinary tract infections
- improve digestive function
- heal inflammatory bowel conditions like IBS4
- manage and prevent eczema in children
- fight food-borne illnesses
- reduce flu and colds
- reduce overuse of antibiotics
- treat kidney stones
- treat colic
- prevent cavities and gum disease
- treat colitis and Crohn’s disease
- combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria
- treat liver disease
- battle cancer5
- manage autism
- lower cholesterol
- fight bacteria that causes ulcers
- improve acne
- lose weight
While there are probiotic supplements you can buy, there are also lots of foods that are naturally high in probiotics. Being a bit of a nature girl, my preference is always to try and get my nutrients from food rather than a pill so I make sure my diet is high in these foods.
How to get more probiotics
Of all the foods that contain probiotics (and I’ll tell you which ones are the best in a minute) my favorite is something called kefir.
Kefir is one of my “top 10 Supperfoods” I use. Is a fermented goat or cow’s milk drink that tastes a little like sour, sharp yogurt. Kefir originated from parts of Eastern Europe and Southwest Asia. The name is derived from the Turkish word “keyif”, which means “feeling good” after eating. It’s a staple of many county’s diet including the Middle East and the Mediterranean region. Kefir is naturally loaded with probiotics and much cheaper and easier to use than many probiotic supplements.
I like to add a splash of kefir to my smoothies and even pour it over my breakfast fruit salad for a delicious but light start to the day.
Other foods that are high in probiotics include:
- Sauerkraut – fermented vegetables
- Kimchi – fermented Korean vegetables
- Nato – fermented soybeans
- Natural yogurt
- Miso – fermented soybeans, rice or barley
- Raw cheese
However, it’s important to understand that eating these foods only supplies your body with probiotics; you also need to try and preserve your healthy bacteria by avoiding too much stress, sugar, and taking antibiotics unnecessarily.
Also, if you choose to eat yogurt for probiotics, make sure you eat natural, sugar-free yogurt and not sugar-loaded, fruit-flavored yogurt. This kind of yogurt is nothing but junk food pretending to be healthy and all that sugar will mean that it contains no probiotics and will actually kill off the very bacteria you are trying to repopulate.
How probiotics helped me
After years of suffering from digestive problems and becoming increasingly worried about my health, I eventually tried kefir and I’m so glad I did. Within a few days I noticed my stomach was less bloated and I had less digestive discomfort and in a few weeks, it was like I’d never had a problem at all. I lost a little weight and also found that I was ill less frequently – all because of kefir.
Kefir and other probiotic foods are very important if you want to keep your digestive system and therefore the rest of your body in tip-top shape. I’ve tried the other probiotic foods but in terms of ease of use and cost, kefir really is the best.
Recipes with Kefir
Kefir Protein Banana Smoothie
Try this high on protein and probiotics smoothie for your breakfast. My recipe here.
Buy yourself a bottle of kefir – it’ll cost you a couple of dollars at the most like this one I bought at Amazon.com – and start adding a splash to your morning smoothies – “How to Make a Smoothie using Kefir” or “Create your own homemade Meal Replacement Shakes”. Alternatively pour yourself a shot-glass full a day and gulp it down. It’s an acquired taste but, I promise you, you’ll love the benefits of making kefir part of your healthy eating plan!