Digestive Health

The #1 Master Tip to Help Restoring a Normal Gut Flora

The #1 Master Tip to Help Restoring a Normal Gut Flora

If you feel inundated with information and advertisements about which probiotic is the best for you, you’re not alone. If you struggle with keeping up with that information or if you’re still confused about how to best improve the normal, healthy gut bacteria, then read on!

The Master Tip to Restoring Normal Gut Flora

fermented foods like gherkins, kimchi, sauerkraut, and yoghurt on a table

Apart from simply avoiding things that kill the healthy bacteria in our bodies (like antibiotics), we can also promote healthy gut flora by eating fermented foods. Fermented foods are evident in many different cultures over the world, and they come in all different forms. We’ll be highlighting nine of the most important fermented foods that will give you more strains of probiotics than taking a supplement. They’re also more likely to stay in your gut and help with digestion, mood disorders, and your immune system.

9 Most Important Fermented Foods

1. Kefir

wooden spoon scooping kefir out from a glass

Kefir is a fermented dairy product made from cow, goat or sheep milk. It’s basically a drinkable yogurt! It’s much higher in probiotics than yogurt, and it also contains high levels of Vitamin B12, calcium, magnesium, vitamin K, Biotin, folate, enzymes, and of course hundreds of strains of probiotics.

2. Kombucha

large jar of kombucha with a glass of kombucha garnished with lemon slice

Kombucha is a fermented beverage made from tea, and it contains a colony of bacteria and yeast that’s responsible for initiating the fermentation process. Due to the fermentation process, you receive hundreds of strains of healthy probiotics. Kombucha also has trace amounts of alcohol, but not enough to get you intoxicated or feel any difference.

3. Sauerkraut

top down view of a jar of sauerkraut

Sauerkraut is one of the oldest traditional foods. It has very long roots stemming from German, Russian and Chines cuisines. Sauerkraut, which means “sour cabbage”, is made from fermented greens, red cabbage, or green cabbage. It is high in fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, B vitamins, as well as manganese and magnesium. Store-bought sauerkraut is decent, but making your homemade sauerkraut is more powerful than store-bought sauerkraut.

4. Pickles

jar of pickles next to a small wooden bowl with pickles and a pickle on a fork

Like sauerkraut, store-bought pickles are not nearly as effective as pickles that you make yourself. Fermented pickles contain a ton of vitamins and minerals, plus antioxidants and gut-friendly probiotic bacteria. There are tons of homemade pickle recipes online that you can try for yourself.

5. Miso

top down view of a bowl of miso soup with seaweed, tofu, and spring onions, on a wooden table mat and chopsticks

Miso is created by fermenting soy beans, barley or brown rice with Koji, a type of fungus. It’s a traditional Japanese ingredient recipe in Miso soup. It tastes great and it’s high in healthy probiotic bacteria.

6. Tempeh

pieces of tempeh on a white plate

Tempeh is another beneficial fermented food made with soy beans. When it sets for a day or two, soy bean becomes dense and cake-like, and it contains both probiotics and a healthy hefty dose of protein too. Tempeh is similar to Tofu, but fermented and not as spongy or grainy tasting. It’s quite tasty actually, try it and let us know what you think!

7. Nato

nato in a wooden dish with soybeans in a wooden square dish in the background

Nato is a popular food in Japan containing fermented soy beans. It’s sometimes eaten for breakfast in Japan, and commonly combined with soy sauce. It contains high amounts of healthy probiotics.

8. Kimchi

a plate of kimchi

Kimchi is a traditional fermented Korean dish that’s made from vegetables including cabbage, plus some healthy spices for your gut like, ginger, and garlic, pepper, and other seasonings. It’s often added to Korean recipes like rice bowls, ramen, or Bibimbap.

9. Yogurt

two jars of yoghurt on a white wooden table with two spoons next to them

This is probably one of the most easily accessible probiotic foods you can find! Yogurt is a fermented dairy product made mostly from cows’ milk, although it can also be made from sheep and goats’ milk. It’s recommended when buying yogurt to look for three things. First, that it comes from goat or sheep milk if you have trouble digesting cow milk. Second, it’s made from the milk of animals that have been grass-fed. Third, make sure that it’s organic.

How to boost your healthy gut bacteria

Probiotic T50 supplement by Zenith Labs

Eating fermented foods can boost your healthy gut bacteria in ways that taking a probiotic supplement simply cannot. However, if you’re looking for a more convenient way of getting your probiotic dose, we’ve created a probiotic supplement called Probiotic T50, which is one of the most powerful probiotic supplements out there. It contains 50 billion organisms, which is almost 10 times as much as most grocery store probiotics. On top of that, it contains 11 strains, whilst most probiotic supplements that you take only contain one, two, maybe three or four strains.

If you incorporated fermented foods into your diet, and take the Probiotic T50 supplement, you can change the dynamic of these important organisms that live in your gut and improve your overall wellbeing.

If you’ve tried probiotic supplements and/or fermented foods, let us know which you prefer and how it’s worked out for you. We would love to hear what’s worked/not worked for you, or just to hear about your favourite fermented food! Let us know in the comments below.

Ever heard about prebiotics? Learn about the difference between prebiotics and probiotics here.


Dr. Ryan Shelton of Zenith Labs

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What’s the Difference Between Prebiotics and Probiotics?

You probably already have some understanding of how the food you eat affects your digestion, but you may not know how much your digestion affects your health. Your gut is full of bacteria – both good and bad – that aid in the digestion of food and the absorption of nutrients. More than that, however, those bacteria also play a role in various aspects of total body health and wellness including inflammation, blood sugar, cholesterol, and even mood.

As you may already know, probiotics are beneficial bacteria that can support healthy gut function. You can find them in things like yogurt and fermented foods. But what about prebiotics? How are they different and what role do they play in healthy digestion? Keep reading to find out.

Prebiotics vs. Probiotics

Probiotics are living organisms that help to maintain the right balance of good to bad bacteria in your gut. They keep harmful bacteria from getting out of control and triggering problems such as inflammation, infection, and gastrointestinal upset. By maintaining that balance, probiotics can also help relieve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Prebiotics are an entirely different thing. First and foremost, they are not living organisms – they are soluble, fermentable fibers that cannot be fully digested in the stomach. Instead of breaking down completely in the stomach, prebiotic fibers move into the intestines where they become a food source for probiotics.

How to Add Them to Your Diet

Probiotics and prebiotics are two completely different things, but they both play an essential role in health and digestion, so you should get them where you can. For probiotics, naturally-occurring sources are the most beneficial, though probiotic supplements can be used to boost your intake. Some of the best food sources of probiotics include fermented foods like yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, and kefir – these foods are made with carbohydrates and sugars that provide nutrients for the bacteria to keep them alive long enough for your consumption.

Like probiotics, natural sources for prebiotics are the most beneficial as well. Food sources of prebiotics include things that are high in soluble fiber such as Jerusalem artichokes (you may know them as sunchokes), onion, garlic, chicory root, and beans. Food sources of resistant starch are also beneficial as prebiotics. Resistant starch is a type of fiber that is resistant to digestion by the stomach, and it can be found in foods like oats, legumes, and unripe bananas. It can also be found in cooked foods like potatoes, pasta, and rice after they have cooled.

Make Your Own Probiotic-Rich Fermented Veggies

Though you can purchase fermented foods like sauerkraut, yogurt, and kimchi at the grocery store, they may contain artificial ingredients that are best avoided. Fortunately, it is very easy to make your own fermented veggies at home, and they are an excellent source of probiotics. Here is a basic recipe for making fermented veggies that you can customize to your liking:

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium red apples, cored and chopped
  • 4 cups fresh cauliflower florets
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 bunch green onions, sliced into ½-inch slices
  • 3 tablespoons fresh grated ginger
  • 8 tablespoons coarse sea salt

Instructions:

  1. Toss the apples, cauliflower, carrots, green onion, and celery together in a large bowl.
  2. Transfer the mixture to a large glass jar and press them down with a wooden spoon, sprinkling the sea salt as you compress the veggies.
  3. Check to make sure the mixture fills the jar no higher than 1 inch below the rim – you should also make sure the expressed liquid from the veggies covers them completely.
  4. If you need to add more liquid, make a brine using 4 cups water and 2 tablespoons sea salt – fill the jar to 1 inch below the top.
  5. Place a plate over the top of the jar to weigh down the veggies – cover with a kitchen towel, if needed, to keep out fruit flies.
  6. Set the jar in a warm place to ferment for 3 to 5 days.
  7. Check the jar once a day to make sure the brine still covers the vegetable mixture – remove any mold that forms on the surface.
  8. Start tasting the veggies after 3 days and keep fermenting until it reaches the desired taste.
  9. Cover the jar tightly with a lid and transfer to the refrigerator or pantry for storage.

Whether you choose to make your own fermented veggies or buy them at the store, probiotic foods should become a part of your regular diet. By combining these foods with natural prebiotic fibers, you can support the healthy balance of bacteria in your digestive tract for optimal health and wellness.

Understanding the Different Types of Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Do you suffer from frequent diarrhea or stomach pain and cramping? Have you lost weight without meaning to or has your doctor worried that you might have anemia? These are some of the symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that many people misunderstand. IBD can sometimes be tricky to diagnose because the symptoms overlap with other conditions and because there are several different forms of the disease.

Though the symptoms of IBD may seem inconvenient at most, leaving this condition untreated can lead to serious complications such as malnutrition, intestinal rupture, and even colon cancer. Keep reading to learn more about the different types of IBD and how to manage them.

What Are the Different Types of IBD?

Irritable bowel disease or IBD is an umbrella term for several different conditions. The two most common types of IBD are ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. The former is characterized by inflammation of the large intestine and typically affects the entire structure from the rectum into the colon – the inflammation may also spread into the inner lining of the colon. Crohn’s disease, on the other hand, can cause inflammation in any part of the intestinal tract and typically occurs in patches of inflamed tissue which can occur anywhere from the mouth to the anus.

Both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are chronic conditions, and both are caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Together, these two diseases affect roughly 3 million American adults or about 1.3% of the population.  Some of the most common symptoms of Crohn’s disease include frequent diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, loss of appetite, weight loss, anemia, skin reactions, and arthritis. Ulcerative colitis causes similar symptoms with the addition of rectal pain or bleeding, an urgency or inability to defecate, fever, and fatigue.

What Are the Causes and Risk Factors?

Unfortunately, the exact cause of IBD remains unknown. Research has revealed a link, however, between genetics and immune system problems and the various forms of IBD. Scientists believe there is a genetic component to the disease because patients who have immediate family members with IBD develop the condition at a higher rate. They also believe that there is some immune system involvement due to the fact that inflammation occurs in the GI tract independent of any infection.

Though researchers do not fully understand the causes of IBD, they have identified certain factors which may increase your risk of developing Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. The most common risk factors include smoking, ethnicity, age, family history, geographical region, and gender. People of Caucasian and Jewish descent have a higher risk for IBD, as do people under the age of 35. Ulcerative colitis is more likely to affect men, while Crohn’s disease is more common in women. If you live in an urban or industrialized area, your risk for IBD is higher, and smoking can greatly increase your risk.

How is IBD Best Treated?

The symptoms of IBD differ in severity from one case to another, so you’ll need to talk to your doctor about the ideal form of treatment. Leaving your condition untreated could increase your risk of developing serious complications including malnutrition, dangerous weight loss, fistulas, intestinal rupture or perforation, bowel obstruction, and colon cancer. In very severe cases, IBD can cause you to go into shock, and it could be a life-threatening situation.

When it comes to treating IBD, there are a number of different options. The first step in treating IBD is usually medication with anti-inflammatory drugs such as sulfasalazine or corticosteroids. These drugs are designed to reduce inflammation in the GI tract but, unfortunately, they come with a high risk for die effects. Immunosuppressant drugs may also be prescribed, including drugs that block TNF – a chemical produced by the immune system that can trigger inflammation.

Other treatments for IBD may include antibiotics, antidiarrheal drugs, and nutritional supplements to address malnutrition or specific deficiencies. Lifestyle changes are also important for treating and managing IBD. You’ll need to keep an eye on your stress levels and exercise regularly. Quitting smoking, drinking plenty of fluids, and avoiding dairy products will help as well. If nothing else works, surgery may be an option to repair damage or to mitigate symptoms of IBD.

Irritable bowel syndrome, in its many forms, is not the kind of condition you want to ignore. Though symptoms may be mild at first, they can worsen, and you may find yourself saddled with serious complications such as bowel obstruction, ulcers, intestinal rupture, or even cancer. If you have experienced any symptoms of IBD, or if you have some of the risk factors, talk to your doctor today.

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