While meeting with hundreds of clients over the years I have asked many of them if they eat cultured foods in their diet. The answer usually is either “no”, “what is that”, or “yogurt”.
But what about all the other big players in the cultured food category? Chances are if you haven’t heard of Miso,Sauerkraut, Kimchi, Kefir, Kombucha, or Kevita Coconut Beverages, then you simply are not getting enough immune boosting bacteria in your diet.
More than ever before, science is learning how important it is to get cultured foods into your diet daily. The reason behind this is due to the important role bacteria play in your digestion and even metabolism.
An interesting study found that if you gave a sterol rat (no bacteria in gut) the bacteria from an overweight rat’s gut and another sterol rat the bacteria from a skinny rat that the sterol rat that had the skinny bacteria inserted stayed leaner than the rat which had the overweight rat’s bacteria inserted.
Science is only beginning to scratch the surface on the importance of these tiny little microorganisms. Here is an interesting fact: Your gut has over 3 million genes in it due to all the diverse species of bacteria but you only have around 10,000 genes! You have more genes from bacteria in and on you than you do genes of your own!
How can I get these beneficial critters each day?
There are a few ways to get cultured foods into your diet each day. Many of us only get beneficial bacteria when we eat yogurt and this isn’t always a guarantee. Yogurt has to be pasteurized in our country which kills most of the beneficial bacteria. Food manufacturers are getting better at adding the probiotics back in. Look for “Live and Active Cultures” on the label to make sure you're getting them. Even if the label says live and active cultures, most yogurts are still loaded with added sugar. Try this instead, get a plain organic greek or regular yogurt, add a tablespoon of honey and a few blueberries. This is much better than plain old cane sugar and will add some extra vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
In addition you can get probiotics from cultured beverages such as Kombucha(fermented tea) and Kevita (Cultured Coconut Water), and cultured vegetables such as, Pickles, cabbage(sauerkraut), and cucumbers,
Getting these cultured foods into your diet daily will help give your body a diverse probiotic population. Having a more diverse microbiome in your gut will help increase metabolism and assure your body is digesting and assimilating nutrients more efficiently.
Studies are beginning to arise showing how our bacteria help us stay lean and burning calories at a higher rate. The science is new but you don’t want to wait till you have missed the boat. To protect yourself try to eat cultured foods at least 2-3X per week to cover your bases.
To learn more I highly recommend the book The Microbiome Diet by Raphael Kellman, MD.
Till next time,