Probiotics are live bacterial microorganisms that live in the gastrointestinal tract. They fight off the toxins and pathogens that enter our digestive system through contaminated food, water, and other environmental pollutants. Studies have shown that gut bacteria can affect our mental health and mood, too.
Additionally, the digestive system contains a major component of our immune system. So the foods you eat and how well you digest them will determine, to a great extent, your overall health.
Please read about how you can support your “good” bacteria. As a bonus, we’ve included and some yummy good-for-you recipes.
The Bacteria We Can’t Live WithoutRecent studies have focused on the relationship between human health and the microbial flora that colonize our gut. Among the gut bacteria, probiotics are revered as the pot of gold for offering a wide range of health benefits, including positive effects on human longevity.2
The Japanese, who own the prize for the world’s highest longevity (84 years for women, and 81 for men, and having more than 65,000 centenarians), are the prime example of people who know how to support their microbial flora. Researchers attribute the good health and longevity of the Japanese people to their eating natto, a fermented soybean like cheese that is fermented by Bacillus subtilis.
But Bacillus subtilis is just one of many probiotic bacterium. Lactobacillus, Saccharomyces, and Bifidobacterai are three of the most common probiotics. Your gut needs both pro- and prebiotics for optimal health.2 And remember . . . it’s not just digestive health that you’re supporting with these organisms. Your immune system, longevity, and mental health also benefit from a steady diet of probiotic and prebiotic foods, and from probiotic nutritional supplements.1
Probiotic Foods Colonize the Digestive Tract with Good BacteriaGreek yogurt
Gouda, mozzarella, and cheddar cheese
Prebiotic Foods Feed the Friendly Bacteria Already in Your GutThey support mineral absorption, vitamin utilization, and healthy blood sugar levels.
Beans and legumes
Bananas, watermelon, grapefruit
Almonds, pistachios, flaxseeds
Summertime probiotic recipes that feed your gut and delight your taste budsCottage cheese can be eaten dozens of ways. In the summer it’s great served with fruit. Any time of year, enjoy cottage cheese pancakes, either sweet or savory.
1. Sweet cottage cheese pancakes–makes 10 medium-sized pancakes2 cups small curd cottage cheese
A cup flour (can use whole wheat, all purpose, or oatmeal flour, spelt, or gluten-free)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp. baking powder
2 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 cup coconut, avocado, or organic canola oil
Combine all ingredients in the following order: cottage cheese, eggs, vanilla extract, baking powder and flour. Mix in each time you add an ingredient. Preheat a skillet with oil on medium heat. Fry the pancakes on each side until golden brown. Serve with syrup or jam while still hot.
2. Savory cottage cheese pancakes—makes 10 medium sized pancakes1/3 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped veggies of your choice (zucchini, pepper, corn)
1/2 tsp salt and pepper
¼ tsp dried dill or 1 tsp fresh, chopped dill
7 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups whole-milk cottage cheese
3 large eggs
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Cook onion, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper in 2 tablespoons butter in a small heavy skillet over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 12 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, then add cottage cheese, eggs, flour, 1/4 cup butter, remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/8 teaspoon pepper and whisk until combined. Preheat a skillet with oil on medium heat. Fry the pancakes on each side until golden brown.
3. Super easy casserole that combines both probiotic and prebiotic foodsEnchilada Bake—serves 4 14.7 oz. (1 can) of vegetarian bean chili
4 oz. of cottage cheese
8 oz. sour cream
1 cup of shredded cheddar or Monterey jack cheese
6-8 corn tortillas
Grease a small casserole dish. Tear a corn tortilla in pieces and cover bottom of dish. Spoon half of the chili over the tortillas. Spread a layer of chili. Top with a layer of cottage cheese, sour cream, and then cheddar or Monterey jack cheese. Repeat. Optional: top with sliced black olives. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until bubbly.
So the next time you go grocery shopping, include some of the above mentioned foods on your list. They’re easy to incorporate into your typical diet, and if you’re unaccustomed to eating some of the more exotic soy-based fermented foods, give it a try. You might like it, and your gut will love it!