Don't Fear The Good Bacteria

by HEAB on May 30, 2009

Last week, when I posted an entire day of eats, many of you commented or emailed me about my morning mug of miso broth:

My fermented beverage of choice.

My fermented beverage of choice.

This is so easy to make: 1 TBSP of miso paste (available from your local health food store or Asian market) stirred into 16 ounces of hot water (NOT boiling).  That’s it.  

Now, why do I drink it?  Well, there are several reasons.  First off, our bodies require a certain level of flora, or healthy bacteria.  The healthy bacteria in the gut aids in food digestion, strengthens your body’s immune response, works against harmful bacteria, and manufactures certain nutrients our bodies need.   What destroys our good bacteria?  Unhealthy diets (think processed foods & sugar), chronic illness, birth control pills, and antibiotics to name just a few.  Guess who grew up eating sugar and taking antibiotics constantly?  Me!  A lack of flora in the body can lead to digestive problems, constipation, yeast infections, food allergies, and a compromised immune system.  Doesn’t sound like much fun, does it?  No worries.  There are several ways to restore the good stuff. :) 

These days, it seems Contains Probiotics labels can be found on everything from cereals to pizzas. However, I prefer more natural sources like fermented foods. Unfortunately, pasteurization has eliminated much of the flora found in the modern day diet, but fermented foods are a wonderful source. I began drinking miso broth after I gave up dairy.  Yogurt & kefir used to be my go-to fermented foods, but not anymore.   Fermented vegetables are also a great source of good bacteria…and they’re raw.  Woo-hoo, bonus!  Sauerkraut and kimchi (pickled cabbage) are two good options.  Just make sure not to buy sauerkraut that has been fermented and then pasteurized.  Another option is kombucha, a fermented tea drink, and if I could afford them, I would drink one everyday.  Love GT’s Divine Grape flavor!

Another favorite fermented food of mine?

Tempeh with peanut butter.

Tempeh with nut butter.

Tempeh is fermented soy beans pressed into a block or cake.  Now, I’m not a fan of processed soy products as they irritate my stomach, but fermented soy foods like tempeh and miso don’t seem to bother me.  Try some with a little a nut butter a la Gliding Calm.  It makes for a great afternoon snack and much cheaper than a protein bar!

What about probiotic supplements?  Well, since I take antibiotics on occasion, I do take the following probiotic by Innate Response everyday:

My daily dose of flora.

My daily dose of flora.

If you are interested in taking a probiotic, talk to your doctor first (standard disclaimer :)) and make sure to look for one that is harvested from organic vegetable sources and contains live strains of the whole family of Lactobacilli bacteria.  Your local health food store should be able to help you find a good brand.  Keep in mind that most probiotics should be stored in the refrigerator and taken on an empty stomach.

If you’re interested in reading more about fermented foods, check out Seth Robert’s blog.  He’s got some interesting ideas regarding various cultures around the world and the fermented foods they eat, and I really think he’s onto something.

CD’s Random Comment of the Day:

Is that miso broth or the urine sample your doctor requested?  

Be sure to check back Monday for another chia seed giveaway!