Research performed at the Buck Institute on Aging recently revealed that having the right balance of gut bacteria may be the key to enjoying a long, healthy life.
As our digestive systems continuously extract water and nutrients from a massive amount of liquids and solid foods throughout our lives, while also battling nasty microbes and processing wastes, what we put into our gut is essential to wellness and can even increase our chances of avoiding certain types of cancer.
Keeping your stomach and entire digestive system healthy may be as simple as making the right choices when it comes to foods and beverages. Hippocrates was once quoted as saying, “all disease begins in the gut,” and science is proving his statement to be true. Research has even connected poor gut health to all types of health problems, from obesity to a weakened immune system, eczema and a host of chronic illnesses.
Consider these five superfoods for boosting your good bacteria levels and getting your gut back in balance:
Yogurt is a potent probiotic, considered to be one of the best and most affordable sources of probiotics you can buy. Keep in mind that it’s important to choose only organic, Greek yogurt with just two ingredients: milk and live yogurt cultures. Many companies market yogurt that contains either a ton of sugar or artificial sweeteners, as well as other potentially harmful additives.
Fermented foods like sauerkraut (and natural yogurt) are considered excellent sources of probiotics. The greater the variety of these types of foods you eat, the more beneficial strains of bacteria your body will get. In the early 1900s, sauerkraut was originally created as a way to preserve food during times of famine, as well as to treat stomach-related illness. Avoid canned sauerkraut; it is pasteurized, which means the healthy bacteria have mostly been killed off.
Kefir is almost like a drinkable yogurt, but it is much richer in probiotics. It’s made from kefir grains, which are a collection of bacterial yeasts and not actually a type of grain. These yeasts are then fermented with liquid to make kefir. It contains oligosaccharides, which help to feed beneficial bacteria, supercharging the immune system.
Kefir grains are available online and in many health food stores. A particularly healthy fermented drink option is coconut kefir water. This drink is made with water kefir grains and coconut water. Loaded with nutrition and helpful bacteria, coconut kefir water is easy to make and will boost your immune system.
If you love pickles, this should be great news: just one tablespoon – or a single strip – each day is a fantastic way to add good bacteria to your gut. Of course, it’s essential to choose pickles without added sugars, dyes or preservatives.
Certain vegetables are especially beneficial for good digestive health. Asparagus contains a natural prebiotic fiber known as inulin, which feeds good bacteria and helps to eliminate harmful bacteria. If you aren’t fond of asparagus, artichokes are another great choice, as they are also packed with inulin.
In addition to consuming these great foods, remember to only use antibiotics when absolutely necessary, as they deplete all gut bacteria, including beneficial strains. If you must take them, be sure to take a high quality probiotic at the same time, to help replenish the healthy bacteria your body needs to thrive.