This past weekend, millions of Irish-Americans (and many non-Irish Americans) enjoyed a beer or two in honor of St. Patrick's Day. They likely weren't thinking about the fermentation process that created the beverage in their hand, but being a big fan of fermented products, I surely did!
Fermented foods are alive and teaming with beneficial microbes (or probiotics) that keep the digestive tract running efficiently, but also protect the heart, boost immunity, reduce the risk of diabetes and obesity, and prevent food allergies.
Just the sheer numbers of bacteria in fermented foods can be astronomical, which ensures large numbers will survive the trip through the digestive tract. Fermented foods also contain enzymes and other nutrients that allow the bacteria to continually multiply.
When it comes to natural probiotics, fermented foods like sauerkraut, fermented vegetables, kefir, and yogurt are true superfoods. They are loaded with beneficial bacteria.
Although I like them all, sauerkraut has to be my favorite, with kefir being a close second. I usually have two batches of sauerkraut going all the time…one that I’m eating and one that is still going through the fermentation process.
One of the many reasons I like sauerkraut is for its numerous strains of bacteria, many of which I’m sure haven’t even been categorized. It also contains various cancer-fighting compounds, vitamin C, minerals, and other nutrients.
Kefir can be found in many markets today and is fairly easy to make at home, as well. Kefir “starter” grains can be purchased from places like Cultures for Health. They are simply added to any kind of milk, and, within 24 to 48 hours, you have kefir.