It seems like everyone’s always searching for the next superfood to keep their bodies happy and healthy, but your gut’s biggest ally might not be the trendiest veggie or acai…
It seems like everyone’s always searching for the next superfood to keep their bodies happy and healthy, but your gut’s biggest ally might not be the trendiest veggie or acai bowl. When it comes to promoting a strong digestive and immune system, bacteria are your biggest ally. Not just any bacteria: probiotics are essential for a healthy gut, which in turn impacts your energy, mood, weight, and ability to fight off diseases. Sure, grass-fed organic yogurt is a great source, but there are plenty more options for those staying dairy-free. Here are some of our favourite probiotic-rich (and vegan-approved) foods.
If you haven’t tried kombucha yet, can you really call yourself a health nut? Made with black tea and sugar, it’s fermented with SCOBY, a bacteria and yeast colony, that results in a flavourful, sparkling drink. The SCOBY converts the sugars into wellness-boosting acids and probiotics that are known to detox your liver, improve your pancreas function, help your body absorb nutrients, better your mood, and help with weight loss.
For those who want their sauerkraut with a bit of kick. Sauerkraut, or fermented cabbage, is loaded with probiotics like lactobacillus, and kimchi is a spicier version, often made with chili powder, garlic, ginger, carrots, and radishes. A little goes a long way: use it as a garnish on your eggs, salad, or tofu and you’ll get a hit of nutrients like beta-carotene, calcium, iron, and vitamins A, B1, B2, and C.
Good news, pickle lovers: like cabbage, any veggie that undergoes a fermentation process becomes the perfect environment for probiotics to thrive. Lactofermentation allows bacteria to feed on sugars and starches in the vegetables to create lactic acid, which in turn creates enzymes, B-vitamins, Omega-3 fatty acids, along with probiotics. Good for your gut, good for your overall health.
Kefir is a great source of probiotics, but it’s often made from milk. This variation removes the dairy for a beverage made only from water or coconut water, sugar, and water kefir grains.
Like SCOBY, water kefir grains are composed of bacteria and yeast in a symbiotic relationship — and for those staying gluten-free, don’t worry: they aren’t actually grains. The drink can be flavoured with lemon and other fruit for a tangy, fermented beverage, as delicious as it is brimming with B vitamins, vitamin K, and folic acid. It’s no wonder kefir means “feel good” in Turkish.
No, this isn’t a typo. Eating a piece or two of dark chocolate can actually be just what your body needs, although this isn’t a free pass to indulge on lollies. Keep your gut and tongue happy with organic dark chocolate that’s at least 70% raw cacao or cocoa, naturally high in antioxidants. You’ll find a myriad of other vitamins and minerals, that can improve blood flow, fight bad cholesterol, increase brain function, and help your gastrointestinal flora with its naturally occurring probiotics.
Still, it should be eaten in moderation and should be organic – avoid those high in sugar or containing artificial sweeteners.
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