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Top 10 Immune-Boosting Foods

Keeping your immune system strong and healthy
is one of the essential keys to great health.
Fortunately, doing so is easier than you think.

The immune system is a complex system of organs, cells and proteins that work together to help protect us against foreign invaders, including: viruses, bacteria, fungi and other foreign substances we may come into contact with. We rarely give it a second thought until we’re burning up with a fever or fighting some form of serious infection.

There are many ways to keep your immune system strong and healthy, including:

  • Avoid smoking and secondhand smoke
  • Don’t drink alcohol
  • Exercising regularly
  • Getting sufficient sleep
  • Reducing stress as much as possible
  • Washing hands regularly and thoroughly
  • Thoroughly cooking any meat, fish, or poultry in your diet
  • Eating a diet rich in immune-boosting fruits and vegetables

BEST IMMUNE-BOOSTING FOODS

Most fruits and vegetables, as well as other plant-based foods, boost the immune system, but some are better at it than others. Some of the best immune-boosting foods include:

Beets

Rich in the immune-boosting mineral, zinc, beets along with their leafy greens, are a great addition to your diet. Beets are also a rich source of prebiotics, the foods eaten by probiotics, or beneficial microbes, in your intestines. By eating more beets you’ll feed the healthy bacteria and other beneficial microbes that give your gut and immune health a boost. Add them to fresh juice, grate and add to salads and sandwiches, or roast and enjoy on their own.

Blueberries

Blueberries don’t just taste amazing, they are packed with nutrients known as flavonoids that give them their gorgeous color and delicious taste. Research in the journal Advances in Nutrition shows that flavonoids boost the immune system. Eat fresh blueberries on their own or atop salads or added to smoothies. Frozen blueberries that have been slightly thawed taste like blueberry sorbet and make a delicious dessert.

Blueberries

 

Citrus Fruits

Grapefruit, lemons, limes, oranges and other citrus fruit are excellent sources of immune-boosting vitamin C, making them excellent choices to include in your daily diet. Juice them or add them to salads or salad dressings, or in the case of grapefruit and oranges, eat them on their own as a quick snack.

Flaxseeds and Flaxseed Oil

Flaxseeds and flaxseed oil contain plentiful amounts of the essential fatty acids known as Omega 3s that give your immune system a boost and help to keep it functioning well on a regular basis. Add flaxseeds or oil to your smoothie or top previously-cooked vegetables with a splash of flax oil and sea salt.

Garlic

Rich in immune-boosting allicin, garlic helps to stave off colds and flu by giving our immune system a boost. Cooking reduces the potency of garlic but both cooked and raw garlic are still worth eating on a daily basis. Add some garlic to your soups, stews, chili and, of course, combined with chickpeas, lemon juice, tahini, olive oil and a touch of salt for a delicious hummus.

Kefir

A beverage similar to yogurt but thinner, kefir comes from the Turkish word “keif” which means “good feeling” probably because let’s face it: we feel better when we’re not sick. Kefir offers immune-boosting health benefits due to its many different strains of beneficial bacteria and yeasts. Make sure the one you choose contains “live cultures.”

Kimchi

The national dish of Korea, kimchi is a spicy condiment that has been found in research published in the Journal of Medicinal Food to offer immune-boosting benefits.

Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds contain plentiful amounts of the immune-boosting fats known as Omega 3s, along with the essential immune health mineral, zinc, making them an excellent choice to include in your diet. Throw them on top of your salads, grind them and add them to flour for baking, or snack on them as is.

Walnuts

Raw, unsalted walnuts are rich sources of immune-boosting Omega 3 fatty acids. If you don’t like the taste of walnuts, I urge you to try ones that are raw, unsalted and kept in the refrigerator section of your health food store since they are typically fresher than the ones found in packages in the center aisles of the grocery store. The bitter taste most people attribute to walnuts is actually a sign they have gone rancid. Fresh walnuts have a buttery and delicious taste.

Yogurt

Yogurt and vegan yogurt contain beneficial bacteria that boost your gut health, which in turn, boost your immune system health. Make sure the yogurt you select contains “live cultures.”

 

By: Michelle Schoffro Cook            August 1, 2018

Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM is the publisher of the free e-newsletter World’s Healthiest News, the Cultured Cook, co-founder of BestPlaceinCanada, and an international best-selling and 20-time published book author whose works include: Be Your Own Herbalist: Essential Herbs for Health, Beauty, & Cooking.  Follow her on Twitter.

source: www.care2.com
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10 Health Benefits Of Kimchi

Health benefits of kimchi include an improved heart health and a healthy digestive system. The wealth [1] of antioxidants in it exercise healing effects in medical conditions like cancer, diabetes, obesity, atopic dermatitis, and gastric ulcers. This flavonoid and probiotic-rich food delays aging, regulates cholesterol levels, and boosts the immune system.

Nutritional Value Of Kimchi

Kimchi is a low-calorie, high fiber, and nutrient-packed [3] side dish. It is a storehouse of a range of vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, and vitamin C. It is also rich in essential amino acids and minerals such as iron, calcium, and selenium. It has an impressive assortment of powerful antioxidants and provides an additional benefit of probiotics as well in the form of lactobacillus bacteria. It contains numerous helpful components including capsaicin, chlorophyll, carotenoids, flavonoids, and isothiocyanates and has a low amount of fat and sugar.

Health Benefits Of Kimchi

The delectable taste of kimchi, which has been admired globally comes with a super bonus of health benefits attributing to a range of qualitative evidence supported by several pieces of research. The major health benefits have been discussed below.

Promotes Digestion

Kimchi is an excellent food to promote [4] digestion. It is a source of probiotics attributing to the process of fermentation involved in its preparation. The process of fermentation not only enhances the taste but also creates healthy bacteria, Lactobacillus, which is required by the body to keep a healthy state of intestinal flora. It is made from [5] cabbage which is already well known for its detoxification qualities and helps the body in getting rid of the wastes and toxins. It aids in cleaning up the intestines and stimulates better assimilation of nutrients in the body. Fiber content present in kimchi also assists in stabilizing the bowel movements and prevents constipation.kimchi

Regulates Cholesterol

Regular consumption [6] of kimchi has a beneficial effect on the levels of cholesterol. Garlic, which is used to prepare it is rich in selenium and allicin. Allicin is an eminent component which helps in lowering the cholesterol levels, thereby, reducing the risk of developing cardiac disorders such as strokes and heart attacks. Selenium also exerts a protective effect on the artery walls by preventing the build-up of plaque and decreasing the threat of atherosclerosis. An investigative study [7] has advocated that fermented kimchi helps in lowering the total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol along with the concentration of blood glucose in the body.

Antioxidant Properties

Kimchi varieties are rich in powerful [8]antioxidants which are natural scavengers. These antioxidants along with phenols and flavonoids present in it exert a protective effect against oxidative damage and shield the body from the harmful effects of oxygen free radicals.

Treats Atopic Dermatitis

The presence of lactobacillus bacteria in kimchi makes it a multi-talented condiment. It extends its therapeutic effects on various skin ailments such as atopic dermatitis which is characterized by increased levels of immunoglobulin E and skin lesions such as edema and hemorrhage. A study [9] conducted in this regard has shown that healthy bacteria present in fermented kimchi exerts suppressive effects on mite-induced dermatitis and helps in reducing inflammation.

Weight Loss

Kimchi is a source of healthy lactobacillus bacteria which the body utilizes for its healthy functioning. This good bacterium also assists in weight loss by controlling the appetite and reducing the blood sugar levels. The fiber content present in it keeps your body full and your hunger satisfied for a longer duration preventing you from overeating. A study [10] conducted on obese patients has validated the favorable effects of fermented kimchi on the body with respect to body mass index (BMI) and body fat, which helps in reducing the development of factors implicated in metabolic syndrome.

Boosts Immune System

The multi-nutrient packed kimchi is rich in a range of flavonoids and phenolic components. The variety of ingredients including ginger, garlic, and peppers involved in the preparation of kimchee are super protectors which are renowned for their beneficial effect on the immune system. They help in fighting infections and are valuable in curing cold and flu symptoms.

Anti-aging Properties

Another valuable benefit provided by kimchi is its anti-aging qualities, which can be attributed to the presence of antioxidants and vitamin C. A study [12] evaluating the anti-aging activity of kimchee has revealed that it helps in regulating and attenuating the inflammation that speeds up the aging process. The same study also showed promising results with regard to factors like reduced oxidative stress in the cells, inhibition of lipid peroxidation and extended lifespan in the subjects, making kimchi a potent anti-aging component.

Prevents Cancer

Kimchi is a valuable food which helps in reducing the risk of development of various cancers. A study [13] performed on its samples has validated its anti-cancer properties. Cabbage present in it contains healthy flavonoids which are known to inhibit the growth of cancer cells. Other powerful cancer fighters present in cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage are glucosinolates. Glucosinolates break down to form isothiocyanates which are well-known for their effectiveness against cancerous cell growth.

kimchi

 

Treats Diabetes

A study [14] conducted on high-fat-diet-fed type-2 diabetics who were given kimchi revealed the anti-diabetic properties of this Korean delicacy. The study showed better glucose tolerance and lower levels of fasting glucose after eating a kimchi-containing diet in the diabetics. It also suggested that this Korean delicacy can prove more useful in diabetes if it is eaten with a normal or low-fat diet instead of high-fat food.

Reduces Gastric Ulcers

Kimchee exerts therapeutic [15] effects in gastritis and peptic ulcer disease caused by Helicobacter pylori bacteria. A study conducted in this regard has shown that the antagonistic activity of kimchi attributes to the abundance of Lactobacillus bacteria which inhibit the harmful pathogens from connecting to the human gastric cancer cells.

Culinary Uses

Kimchi is prepared and enjoyed in many varieties. It makes an excellent side dish or pre-meal appetizer. It can also be added to soups, stews or rice dishes. Kimchee serves deliciously well even as a topping on sandwiches or with pancakes.

Other Uses

Various studies [16] have proven the effectiveness of kimchi in curing avian influenza or bird flu virus and many other viral diseases affecting the poultry.

How To Prepare Kimchi?

Kimchi can be prepared in different ways depending on one’s taste and preference. There are many types available which are made using vegetables including Chinese cabbage, leek, scallion, radish, cucumber, ginseng, garlic, cayenne peppers, and Indian mustard leaves. These vegetables are mixed with desired spices and seasonings and kept for fermentation for specified days under favorable conditions.

Side Effects Of Kimchi

Digestive Health: Excess consumption of kimchi can lead to digestive problems. Research [19] conducted in this regard has suggested that too much of it may aggravate the risk of developing gastric cancer. Due to fermentation, kimchi is abundant in fiber which may cause gas and bloating issues in susceptible individuals. It is advisable, to begin with adding small quantities of kimchi in the diet in order to assess its effects.

Cardiac Functions & High Blood Pressure: Individuals suffering from high blood pressure should be cautious while eating kimchi because of the presence of high salt concentration, which gets further accentuated during the fermentation process. However, a study [20] conducted on hypertensive subjects revealed that even under the conditions of hypertension, eating low-sodium kimchi may not exert harmful effects on the blood pressure and cardiac activities. It is always advisable to consult a medical professional before considering it for therapeutic usage.

Summary

Kimchi possesses [21] anti-mutagenic, anti-bacterial, and anti-carcinogenic properties. The American health magazine [22] has ranked it among the world’s five healthiest foods. The wealth of strong antioxidants and healthy bacteria in kimchi encourages the production of collagen which aids in improving skin elasticity, delaying skin aging, and promoting healthy and youthful skin. Lactobacillus bacteria present in it is valuable for yeast infections. It combats nutrient depletion, builds stamina, and serves as a delicious and nutritious condiment.

References

  1. http://www.actahort.org/books/483/483_47.htm
  2. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/24/world/asia/24kimchi.html?_r=0
  3. http://www.fasebj.org/cgi/content/meeting_abstract/24/1_MeetingAbstracts/340.6
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21215484
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/23633413/?i=3&from=/23788520/related
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23444963
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/23444963/?i=6&from=/23788520/related
  8. http://agris.fao.org/agris-search/search.do?recordID=KR2008003825
  9. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2672.2011.04981.x/abstract
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21745625
  11. http://books.google.co.in/books?id=uV2Oi0g_TB4C
  12. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10068-011-0091-9
  13. http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/10966200360716544
  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19459728
  15. https://microbewiki.kenyon.edu/index.php/Gastritis_and_Peptic_Ulcer_Disease_Caused_by_Helicobacter_pylori
  16. http://www.asiabiotech.com/publication/apbn/09/english/preserved-docs/0907/0272_0277.pdf
  17. http://books.google.co.in/books?id=eqkYpqkYPngC
  18. http://books.google.co.in/books?id=s4_w572f1MgC
  19. http://www.sfgate.com/health/article/In-Korea-everybody-loves-kimchi-especially-2496596.php
  20. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3439575/
  21. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1023%2FA%3A1011921427581
  22. http://www.health.com/health/article/0,,20410300,00.html
February 14, 2018  

source: OrganicFacts


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Are Prebiotics the Stress Reliever You Never Heard Of?

Before you spend another night tossing and turning from stress, a new study shows that the secret to peaceful Z’s starts with what you’re eating.

There are traditional methods for coping with stress, from relaxing in the tub to keeping a bullet journal, but according to the newest study, an effective way to bounce back from stress is to get your fill of foods rich in prebiotics.

While probiotics—those friendly gut bugs—are often lauded for their digestive benefits, prebiotics are less understood. WebMD defines prebiotics as “good carbohydrates that cannot be digested by the human body. They are food for probiotics, and their primary benefit along with probiotics is to help your body maintain a healthy digestive system.”

Researchers from the University of Colorado discovered that regular amounts of prebiotics in your diet can help promote a better balance of gut bacteria and help the body recover following a stressful event. Their study, which appeared in Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, found that including prebiotics—from sources like asparagus, oatmeal, and legumes such as lentils and chickpeas—help our bodies resume normal sleeping patterns following a particularly stressful event.

“Acute stress can disrupt the gut microbiome,” Agnieszka Mika, MD, a lead author of the study told sciencedaily.com. “We wanted to test if a diet rich in prebiotics would increase beneficial bacteria as well as protect gut microbes from stress-induced disruptions. We also wanted to look at the effects of prebiotics on the recovery of normal sleep patterns, since they tend to be disrupted after stressful events.”

For the study, test rats were given a diet of prebiotics for several weeks prior to a stressful test condition. They were then compared against control rats that didn’t eat a prebiotic-rich diet. Researchers found that the rats that ate prebiotic foods prior to the stressful event didn’t demonstrate any stress-induced disruption in their gut and were able to resume healthier sleep patterns more quickly than the rats on the non-prebiotic diet.

Although the study was conducted on rats, the researchers say the results are applicable for humans. According to the study’s lead author, Robert Thompson, MD, “the stressor the rats received was the equivalent of a single intense acute stressful event for humans, such as a car accident or the death of a loved one.”

No adverse effects have been reported from the use of prebiotics, and with the non-digestible fiber found widely in many plants, breast milk and as commercial supplements, Dr. Mika encourages us to get our fill. These are the best foods you can eat to boost your good gut bacteria, because both probiotics and prebiotics are critical to a healthy microbiome, or gut bug community.

BY LAUREN REARICK
source: www.rd.com
Garlic

7 Foods to Boost Your Good Gut Bacteria (That Aren’t Yogurt)

One of the most astonishing recent health discoveries is how much our gut microbiome impacts our health. But when it comes to growing good gut bacteria you have plenty of delicious probiotic foods to choose from.

Cold potatoes

Cold potatoes—that is, taters that have been washed, cooked, and cooled—are one of the best sources of resistant starch. Resistant starch is a prebiotic, a type of indigestible carbohydrate that acts like food for gut bacteria, encouraging the good bugs to grow and flourish. While resistant starch has many health benefits, one of its most promising aspects is its ability to increase insulin sensitivity, helping people reduce diabetes risk and even lose weight.

Kefir

Think of kefir as yogurt’s tangier but more powerful cousin. The drink is made by seeding milk with kefir “grains,” which are tiny bundles of yeast and bacteria, and letting it sit. Over time the grains ferment the milk, producing a tart drink full of probiotics, or healthy bacteria. A 2013 study found that kefir can help relieve gastrointestinal problems and allergies and may even have a positive effect on heart health. One caveat however: Many commercial kefir drinks contain very high amounts of added sugar, which feeds bad bacteria in your gut, so make sure you read the label and ingredient list. These are sneaky signs you might be eating too much sugar.

Green bananas

Most people go out of their way to avoid green bananas but there’s good news for people who just can’t wait until they’re fully ripe. Green bananas are a rich source of prebiotics, particularly resistant starch. They also have a healthy dose of both soluble and insoluble fiber, vitamins, and minerals. The combo provides a feast for good gut bacteria and helps protect your heart and bones. Can’t get past the taste? Try them boiled or fried or sub some green banana flour in place of regular flour. Here’s how sniffing bananas could help you lose weight.

Kimchi

Don’t let the name throw you—this Korean dish is not only tasty but a health superstar. Kimchi is made by fermenting vegetables with probiotic lactic acid bacteria, which gives it the same boost of healthy bacteria as other fermented foods, like yogurt. Plus, since it’s made from cruciferous veggies like bok choy and cabbage along with healthy spices like garlic and peppers, it provides a mega dose of vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants. One study found that kimchi helps protect against cancer, obesity, and constipation while lowering cholesterol, boosting brain and immune function, and even providing some anti-aging benefits. Here are other proven cancer-fighting foods.

Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut is kimchi’s German cousin, a lacto-fermented brine filled with cabbage, carrots, and spices—not to mention plenty of healthy bacteria for your gut. And not only does it have similar benefits as other fermented veggies but a study done by William & Mary college found that eating a daily serving of sauerkraut helped significantly reduce social anxiety. The researchers believe it’s because more than 80 percent of the calming hormone, serotonin, is manufactured in our guts (not our brains!) and the good bacteria boosted serotonin production.

Chocolate

Yes, it’s true! Chocolate can help encourage the growth of healthy gut bacteria. A study published in the International Journal of Food Biology found that combining chocolate with probiotics magnified the benefits of both. The chocolate protected the bacteria as it passed through the stomach, making sure it was absorbed in the small intestine while the bacteria helped the body properly digest the chocolate, enabling it to extract all the micronutrients and antioxidants. Talk about a win/win! Here are more healthy reasons to eat chocolate.

Garlic

Everyone’s favorite way to get bad breath also has powerful gut bacteria-boosting properties. Garlic is not only Americans’ number-one favorite spice (after salt) but is also beloved by bacteria thanks to its rich supply of prebiotics, their preferred food. Raw garlic is the best source but for those who don’t like the burn (or who feel like kissing someone later); cooked garlic also works well—so well in fact that a study published in Food Science and Human Wellness found that eating it is an effective way to prevent many gastrointestinal illnesses. Here are more surprising benefits of garlic. Feeling motivated? Try these seven other foods that also boost gut health.

BY CHARLOTTE HILTON ANDERSEN
source: www.rd.com


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7 Foods to Boost Your Good Gut Bacteria (That Aren’t Yogurt)

One of the most astonishing recent health discoveries is how much our gut microbiome impacts our health. But when it comes to growing good gut bacteria you have plenty of delicious probiotic foods to choose from.

By Charlotte Hilton Andersen

Cold potatoes
Cold potatoes—that is, taters that have been washed, cooked, and cooled—are one of the best sources of resistant starch. Resistant starch is a prebiotic, a type of indigestible carbohydrate that acts like food for gut bacteria, encouraging the good bugs to grow and flourish. While resistant starch has many health benefits, one of its most promising aspects is its ability to increase insulin sensitivity, helping people reduce diabetes risk and even lose weight.

Kefir
Think of kefir as yogurt’s tangier but more powerful cousin. The drink is made by seeding milk with kefir “grains,” which are tiny bundles of yeast and bacteria, and letting it sit. Over time the grains ferment the milk, producing a tart drink full of probiotics, or healthy bacteria. A 2013 study found that Kefir can help relieve gastrointestinal problems, allergies, and may even have a positive effect on heart health. One caveat however: Many commercial kefir drinks contain very high amounts of added sugar, which feeds bad bacteria in your gut, so make sure you’re reading the label and ingredient list before buying. These are sneaky signs you might be eating too much sugar.

Green bananas
Most people go out of their way to avoid green bananas but there’s good news for people who just can’t wait until they’re fully ripe. Green bananas are a rich source of prebiotics, particularly resistant starch. They also have a healthy dose of both soluble and insoluble fiber, vitamins, and minerals. The combo provides a feast for good gut bacteria and helps protect your heart and bones. Can’t get past the taste? Try them boiled or fried or sub some green banana flour in place of regular flour. Here’s how sniffing bananas could help you lose weight.

Kimchi
Don’t let the name throw you—this Korean dish is not only tasty but a health superstar. Kimchi is made by fermenting vegetables with probiotic lactic acid bacteria, which gives it the same boost of healthy bacteria as other fermented foods, like yogurt. Plus, since it’s made from cruciferous veggies like bok choy and cabbage along with healthy spices like garlic and peppers, it’s provides a mega dose of vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants. One study found that kimchi helps protect against cancer, obesity, and constipation while lowering cholesterol, boosting brain and immune function and even providing some anti-aging benefits. Here are other proven cancer-fighting foods.

Sauerkraut
Sauerkraut is kimchi’s German cousin, a lacto-fermented brine filled with cabbage, carrots, and spices—not to mention plenty of healthy bacteria for your gut. And not only does it have similar benefits as other fermented veggies but a study done by William & Mary college found that eating a daily serving of sauerkraut helped significantly reduce social anxiety. The researchers believe it’s because more than 80 percent of the calming hormone, serotonin, is manufactured in our guts (not our brains!) and the good bacteria boosted serotonin production.

Chocolate
Yes, it’s true! Chocolate can help encourage the growth of healthy gut bacteria. A study published in the International Journal of Food Biology found that combining chocolate with probiotics magnified the benefits of both. The chocolate protected the bacteria as it passed through the stomach, making sure it was absorbed in the small intestine while the bacteria helped the body properly digest the chocolate, enabling it to extract all the micronutrients and antioxidants. Talk about a win/win! Here are more healthy reasons to eat chocolate.

Garlic

Garlic
Everyone’s favorite way to get bad breath also has powerful gut-bacteria boosting properties. Garlic is not only Americans’ number-one favorite spice (after salt) but is also beloved by bacteria thanks to its rich supply of prebiotics, their preferred food. Raw garlic is the best source but for those who don’t like the burn (or who feel like kissing someone later), cooked garlic also works well—so well in fact that a study published in Food Science and Human Wellness found that eating it is an effective way to prevent many gastrointestinal illnesses.

source: www.rd.com


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8 Probiotic Foods That Aren’t Yogurt

Here’s a quick guide to the foods you need for a healthier gut.

LAMBETH HOCHWALD     November 12, 2015

When we think of probiotics, which work to restore the body’s microbial balance, we usually think about yogurt.

Truth is, there plenty of other foods you can eat to stay healthy.

“Probiotics are ‘good’ bacteria that we all contain in our digestive tract, and prebiotics are non-digestible carbohydrates that act as food for probiotics, helping them to grow,” says Dr. Roshini Raj, a gastroenterologist in New York City. “Probiotics and prebiotics help maintain a healthy digestive system by controlling the growth of harmful bacteria and aiding in digestion. Thanks to their ability to reduce the harmful bacteria, probiotics and prebiotics can prevent infections in the digestive tract and reduce inflammation.”

love-your-gut

Choosing the right probiotic foods

So what should we add to our diets to keep our guts healthy? There are a number of fermented foods (dairy and non-dairy) that provide probiotics as well as prebiotics. Let’s start with the top probiotic foods:

  • Kombucha is an ancient Chinese drink made of sweetened tea that’s been fermented using a colony of bacteria and yeast. It’s said to help prevent arthritis and other diseases.
  • Kefir is a dairy-based yogurt-like drink that has its origins in the mountainous Caucasus region of Russia. Millennia ago, pastoralists discovered the process of fermentation and the practice spread widely throughout the Mediterranean as a way to preserve grapes and dairy products beyond the growing season.
  • Sauerkraut is a finely diced sour cabbage dish that has been fermented by a wide variety of bacteria.
  • Kimchi is a Korean dish that’s a spicy, pickled or fermented blend of cabbage, onions and sometimes fish. It can be seasoned with garlic, horseradish, red peppers and ginger.
  • Miso soup originated in Japan and is typically made from fermented soybeans. It can contain up to 160 bacteria strains.
  • Kvass is a traditional Eastern European fermentemted beverage that’s made using black or regular rye bread. It’s often flavored with strawberries or mint.
  • Tempeh is made by fermenting cooked soybeans with a mold. It tends to be firm and chewy and has a slightly earthy taste.
  • Aged cheeses are generally cheeses that have been cured for longer than six months. These cheeses tend to have a full, sharper flavor.

These foods tend to be more popular outside the United States, but the trend has caught on in a big way, says Madeline Given, a certified holistic nutritionist in Santa Barbara, California.

“You can also add cultured dairy, such as creme fraiche or even raw and cultured sour creams and butters,” Given says. “All are a great source of this good bacteria.”

In addition to probiotic foods are prebiotic foods, which include whole grains, asparagus, leeks, onions, garlic, soybeans, dandelion root or Jerusalem artichoke, Raj adds.

What about supplements?

“Both diet and supplements are a good way to increase your daily intake of probiotics and prebiotics,” Raj says. “However, if you want to add a supplement, it’s always best to check with your doctor regarding the dosage and brands she recommends.”

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) has a useful resource file on probiotic supplements that explains the pros, cons and unknowns.

A host of other benefits

And there are more reasons than your gut to reach for probiotic foods.

“Truly, a variety of differing good bacteria in the gut is great for one’s immunity,” says Susan Schenck, a licensed acupuncturist and author of “The Live Food Factor: The Comprehensive Guide to the Ultimate Diet for Body, Mind, Spirit & Planet.”

They’re good for your brain, too.

“After all, 90 percent of the ‘feel-good’ serotonin originates in our gut,” Schenck says.

In fact, we have 100 billion brain cells in our gut, says Lori Shemek, Ph.D., a fat cell researcher. “This is why our gut is considered our ‘second brain,'” she says. “Our weight is directly linked to specific types of gut bacteria.”

To get what you need, consider eating at least one prebiotic- or probiotic-containing food daily. “It doesn’t take much,” Shemek says. “Just one tablespoon of sauerkraut every day is all that is needed. Also, it only takes a couple of days to change gut health from unhealthy to healthy. Additionally, I recommend one daily probiotic, 15 billion and multi-strained.”

source: www.mnn.com


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The Fermented Food that Helps Protect against Dementia

Michelle Schoffro Cook   November 7, 2015

When we think of dementia—or the loss of memory we typically associate with aging—it’s unlikely that most of us think of fermented foods. But probiotic-rich foods, which are foods that contain naturally-beneficial microorganisms like bacteria and certain yeasts, may have an important role in the prevention, and even treatment, of this brain disease.

For many years, science led us to believe that we had little control over our brain health and its functioning. Dementia was thought to be the inevitable result of aging. But, there is a growing body of research linking what we eat, how we live, how stressed we are and how much we challenge ourselves intellectually, to our brain health and memory.

While many people may be aware that purple grapes, blueberries, walnuts or flax seeds are brain-boosting foods, few are aware that one particular fermented food is standing out from the crowd as a brain health superfood. No, it’s not yogurt, although yogurt with live probiotic cultures may be beneficial to the brain as well. The brain-booster extraordinaire may come as a surprise: kimchi. Kimchi is a fermented blend of cabbage, garlic, onions or scallions, ginger, red pepper or chili peppers and is eaten as an appetizer or condiment.

Scientists have identified a whopping 970 different bacterial strains in kimchi. Compare that to the one or two, or occasionally three, strains of probiotics found in most brands of yogurt. Of course, not all kimchi has that many different strains. One strain in particular, Lactobacillus plantarum, which is found in kimchi, is a research-proven antioxidant. The brain is quite vulnerable to free radical damage that occurs as we age, as we eat harmful foods or beverages, as we are exposed to harmful substances in the air we breathe or if we experience a traumatic brain injury. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can damage healthy cells and tissues while antioxidants are substances that neutralize free radicals thereby preventing them from damaging healthy cells in the brain. In a study published in the online medical journal PLoS One, the probiotic, Lactobacillus plantarum, demonstrated antioxidant activity stronger than other probiotics.

kimchi

In a study published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology, researchers tested probiotics that were extracted from kimchi to determine whether they may have any ability to protect against memory loss. One of the probiotics found in kimchi, known as Lactobacillus pentosus var. plantarum C29 showed potent ability to protect the brain against memory loss. And, fortunately you don’t have to remember its name to benefit from its memory-protective effects. Kimchi is the only source of this particular probiotic strain I am aware of. The scientists concluded that kimchi and this probiotic “may be beneficial for dementia.”

Obviously more research needs to be conducted, but considering that there are no known side effects other than additional health benefits of eating kimchi, I consider it a great dietary addition, especially if you are experiencing memory issues or are trying to prevent them. In a study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, kimchi was shown to reduce cholesterol levels and obesity and have anti-cancer effects, among other benefits.

Not all kimchi is created equally. Be sure to choose one that contains “live cultures” and has not been pasteurized. You should find it in the refrigerator section of your health food or grocery store. Organic options are best as pesticides used in the growing of vegetables significantly reduces the beneficial bacterial counts in fermented foods.

 


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7 Ways Probiotics DetoxifyYour Body

By Sayer Ji        Contributing Writer for Wake Up World

You’ve probably heard the buzz already about the many health benefits of probiotics, a word which literally translates to: pro- “for” + biotics “life” — FOR LIFE.  But did you know that these remarkable commensal microorganisms, which outnumber our bodily cells 10 to 1, and contribute over 95% of our body’s total genetic information, also break down highly toxic manmade chemicals which your body is either incapable, or only partially capable, of defending itself from?

Learn about some of the amazing ways in which ‘good bacteria’ help to detoxify chemicals within our body:

Bisphenol A:

This ubiquitous toxicant — linked to over 40 diseases — found in anything from thermal printer receipts, paper money, canned food liners, dental composites, and of course plastics, is a powerful endocrine disrupter now found in everyone’s bodies. Remarkably, two common probiotic strains, Bifidobacterium breve and Lactobacillus casei, have been found in animal research to help the body detoxify it by reducing the intestinal absorption of bisphenol A through facilitating increased excretion.[i] The animals receiving probiotic treatment were found to have 2.4 times higher excretion of Bisphenol A in their feces, suggesting probiotic supplementation could be of significant benefit to humans as well.

Pesticides

Probiotic strains from the traditional Korean fermented cabbage dish known as kimchi have been identified to degrade a variety of organophosphorous pesticides such as chlorpyrifos, coumaphos, diazinon, methylparathion, and parathion.[ii] These nifty organisms actually use these exceedingly hard to break down chemicals as sources of carbon and phosphorous – ‘food’! – and were found to break down the pesticide 83.3% after 3 days and degraded it completely by day 9.[iii]  While this test tube study likely does not reflect exactly what happens in our gut when we ingest both chlorpyrifos and Kimchi, it is provocative, and may indicate there is some protective effects in the gut, and certainly cabbage tainted with organophosphorous pesticide which is subsequently fermented as an ingredient in Kimchi would certainly reduce the burden of this chemical in the diet.

Heavy Metals 

Lactobacillus bacteria found in food have been looked at as a potential adjunct agent for reducing metal toxicity in humans. According to one study, “This is because they have resistance mechanisms which are effective in preventing damage to their cells and they can bind and sequester heavy metals to their cell surfaces, thus removing them through subsequent defecation.” [iv] The study differentiates between detoxification and detoxication, the former of which is described as “the ability to remove drugs, mutagens, and other harmful agents from the body,” and the latter of which is the mechanism through which ‘good bacteria’ prevent “of damaging compounds into the body.” Because there is a large body of research on probiotics preventing and/or healing up intestinal permeability, this may be another way in which toxic stomach contents are preventing from doing harm to the body as a whole.

Cancerous Food Preservatives 

Another imchi study found it contained a strain of bacteria capable of breaking down sodium nitrate, a naturally and artificially occurring chemical (used from anything to rocket fuel and gunpowder) linked to a variety of chronic degenerative diseases, including cancer.[v] The study found a depletion of sodium nitrate by up to 90.0% after 5 days. Sodium nitrate becomes toxic when it is converted in food products, and even our intestines via microbiota, to N-nitrosodimethylamine. A study found that four lactobacillus strains where capable of breaking this toxic byproduct down by up to 50%.[vi]

Perchlorate

Perchlorate is an ingredient in jet fuel and fireworks that widely contaminates the environment and our food. Sadly, even organic food has been found concentrate high levels of this toxicant, making it exceedingly difficult to avoid exposure. It is now found in disturbing concentrations in breast milk and urine, and is a well-known endocrine disrupter capable of blocking the iodine receptor in the thyroid, resulting in hypothyroidism and concomitant neurological dysfunction.  A study found that the beneficial bacterial strain known as Bifidobacterium Bifidum is capable of degrading perchlorate, and that breast fed infants appear to have lower levels than infant formula fed babies due to the breast milk bacteria’s ability to degrade perchlorate through the perchlorate reductase pathway.[vii]

Yogurt

Heterocylic Amines

Heterocyclic aromatic amines (HCA) are compounds formed when meat is cooked at high temperatures of 150-300 degrees C, and are extremely mutagenic (damage the DNA). Lactobacillus strains have been identified that significantly reduce the genotoxicity of theses compounds.[viii]

Toxic Foods

While not normally considered a ‘toxin,’ wheat contains a series of proteins that we do not have the genomic capability to produce enzymes to degrade. When these undigested proteins – and there are over 23,000 that have been identified in the wheat proteome – enter into the blood, they can wreak havoc on our health. Research has found that our body has dozens of strains of bacteria that are capable of breaking down glutinous proteins and therefore reduce its antigenicity and toxicity.

While the role of probiotics in degrading gluten proteins sounds great, a word of caution is in order. Since modern wheat is not a biologically compatible food for our species – having been introduced only recently in biological time, and having been hybridized to contain far more protein that our ancient ancestors were ever exposed to – it would be best to remove it entirely from the diet. Also, the aforementioned research showing bacteria in the human gut are capable of breaking some of these wheat proteins revealed that some of the species that were capable of doing this for us are intrinsically pathogenic, e.g. Clostidium botulinum and Klebsiella. So, relying on the help of bacteria to do the job of digesting a ‘food’ we are not capable of utilizing on our own, is a double-edged sword. Again, the best move is to remove it entirely from the diet as a precuationary step.

What Probiotic Should I Take?

While plenty of probiotic pills and liquids exist on the market, and many of which have significant health benefits, it is important to choose one that is either shelf stable, or has been refrigerated from the place of manufacture all the way to the place you are purchasing it from. Moreover, many probiotics are centrifugally extracted or filtered, leaving the nourishing food medium within which it was cultured behind. This is a problem in two ways: 1)  without sustenance, the probiotics are in ‘suspended animation’ and may either die or not properly ‘root’ into your gastrointestinal tract when you take them.  2) the ‘food matrix’ within probiotics are grown provides a protective medium of essential co-factors that help them survive the difficult journey down your gastointestinal tract.

With that said, another option is to consume a traditionally fermented, living probiotic food like sauerkraut, kimchi, or yogurt (focusing on non-cow’s milk varieties, unless you are lucky enough to find a source that has the beta-casein A2 producing cows). There is always goat’s milk which is relatively hypoallergenic.

Finally, the reality is that the probiotics in our bodies and in cultured foods ultimately derive from the soil, where an unimaginably vast reservoir of ‘good bacteria’ reside – assuming your soil is natural and not saturated with petrochemical inputs and other environmental toxicants.  And really fresh, organically produced – preferably biodynamically grown – raw food is an excellent way to continually replenish your probiotic stores. Food is always going to be the best way to support your health, probiotic health included.

Updated October 2014

Article References
[i] Kenji Oishi, Tadashi Sato, Wakae Yokoi, Yasuto Yoshida, Masahiko Ito, Haruji Sawada. Effect of probiotics, Bifidobacterium breve and Lactobacillus casei, on bisphenol A exposure in rats. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2008 Jun;72(6):1409-15. Epub 2008 Jun 7. PMID: 18540113
[ii] Shah Md Asraful Islam, Renukaradhya K Math, Kye Man Cho, Woo Jin Lim, Su Young Hong, Jong Min Kim, Myoung Geun Yun, Ji Joong Cho, Han Dae Yun. Organophosphorus hydrolase (OpdB) of Lactobacillus brevis WCP902 from kimchi is able to degrade organophosphorus pesticides. J Agric Food Chem. 2010 May 12;58(9):5380-6. PMID: 20405842
[iii] Kye Man Cho, Reukaradhya K Math, Shah Md Asraful Islam, Woo Jin Lim, Su Young Hong, Jong Min Kim, Myoung Geun Yun, Ji Joong Cho, Han Dae Yun. Biodegradation of chlorpyrifos by lactic acid bacteria during kimchi fermentation. J Agric Food Chem. 2009 Mar 11;57(5):1882-9. PMID: 19199784
[iv] Marc Monachese, Jeremy P Burton, Gregor Reid. Bioremediation and tolerance of humans to heavy metals through microbial processes: a potential role for probiotics? Appl Environ Microbiol. 2012 Sep ;78(18):6397-404. Epub 2012 Jul 13. PMID: 22798364
[v] Chang-Kyung Oh, Myung-Chul Oh, Soo-Hyun Kim. The depletion of sodium nitrite by lactic acid bacteria isolated from kimchi. J Med Food. 2004;7(1):38-44. PMID: 15117551
[vi] Adriana Nowak, Sławomir Kuberski, Zdzisława Libudzisz. Probiotic lactic acid bacteria detoxify N-nitrosodimethylamine. Food Addit Contam Part A Chem Anal Control Expo Risk Assess. 2014 Jul 10. Epub 2014 Jul 10. PMID: 25010287
[vii] C Phillip Shelor, Andrea B Kirk, Purnendu K Dasgupta, Martina Kroll, Catrina A Campbell, Pankaj K Choudhary. Breastfed infants metabolize perchlorate. Environ Sci Technol. 2012 May 1 ;46(9):5151-9. Epub 2012 Apr 20. PMID: 22497505
[viii] Adriana Nowak, Zdzislawa Libudzisz. Ability of probiotic Lactobacillus casei DN 114001 to bind or/and metabolise heterocyclic aromatic amines in vitro. Eur J Nutr. 2009 Oct ;48(7):419-27. Epub 2009 May 16. PMID: 19448966