Think bacteria, and most of us think of illness-causing organisms. However, there are certain kinds of bacteria that are “friendly” and essential for good health and vitality: Probiotics. These live bacteria and yeasts a re good for your overall health, especially the digestive system. They keep the gut healthy and can help treat diarrhoea and may help people with irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease.
Why not add a probiotic drink or two to your daily diet and ensure that you are at your healthiest?
What are probiotics?
The word probiotic actually means “for life” and they benefit by improving the balance of flora in the digestive system and helping them do their job more effectively. The reasons to consume more probiotics are many. These “good bugs” crowd out the bad bugs in the digestive tract to:
- Help boost immunity
- Reduce inflammation
- Lower blood pressure
- Bring down cholesterol levels
- Enhance learning and memory
- Cure urinary tract infections
- Alleviate symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Prevent or treat diarrhoea
- Prevent childhood eczema and allergies
- Improve oral hygiene
- Help you drop the kilos and prevent weight gain
- Boost your mood
There are seven types of friendly bacteria. The most common one is Lactobacillus, the most common probiotic that’s found in yogurt and other fermented foods. Bifidobacterium can be found in some dairy products and can help ease the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other conditions. The other kinds include Streptococcus thermophilus, Saccharomyces boulardii and Bacillus subtilis. Whether or not you know about the types of probiotics, it’s important to make them a part of your daily – or weekly – diet.
What causes a gut imbalance?
The number of good bacteria in the digestive system can be overtaken by the bad ones, leading to an imbalance. The factors that can lead to this include:
- Consuming too much dietary fat
- Eating a low-fiber diet
- Excess stress
- Exposure to toxic substances
- Eating too many processed and unhealthy foods
- Gastro infection
- Use of antibiotics for long
Consuming a diet rich in probiotics can help clean up the gut and ensure it’s in prime working condition. Apart from adding probiotic-rich foods like curd and sauerkraut to your diet, loading up on a probiotic drink a day can actually keep the doctor away. Try these recipes to stay healthy:
This tart liquid is sometimes known as Grandma’s probiotic and is a traditional Indian probiotic with live cultures. But keep in mind that heating buttermilk – while cooking – destroys the live cultures.
Curd: 1 cup
Water: 1 glass
Cumin powder: 1 tsp
Green chilli: 1/2, optional
Put all the ingredients in a blender and give it a whirl. The presence of lactic acid gives this drink a slightly sour taste.
SIMPLE MILK KEFIR
Kefir is a fermented milk drink made with a starter known as “grains”. It is high in nutrients and probiotics
Milk: 1 glass
Kefir grains, a few
Add the rubbery & buttery looking kefir grains to a glass of milk. Cover and let sit at room temperature for 24 hours. The milk will ferment and thicken. Strain the mix and drink. The kefir can be reused indefinitely.
It may not taste like regular lemonade, but this lacto-fermented probiotic drink is much healthier. This easy recipe can be made without the traditional Kombucha scoby or water kefir grains.
10 lemons, juiced
Sugar, ¾ cup
Whey, 1 cup
Filtered water, 2.5 to 3 quarts
A gallon size jar
Put the sugar into a glass jar and add some hot water to dissolve it. Pour lemon juice into the jar, and fill it up with filtered water. Let it cool. When the liquid is at room temperature, add whey (the liquid left after curdling) to it and stir slowly. Cover the jar tightly and let sit on the counter for 2-3 days. Store in fridge and drink 4-6 ounces per day.
COCONUT WATER KEFIR
This fermented drink aids digestion and is especially recommended with or after meals.
Water kefir grains, ¼ cup
Fresh coconut water, 6 cups
Lemon or orange juice, ½ to 1 cup
Pour the water kefir grains and coconut water into a jar. Cover with a cheesecloth and let the mixture stand for up to 48 hours at room temperature. Strain the coconut water kefir and reserve the grains. A second fermentation will make the coconut water kefir fizzy. Mix coconut kefir and juice and pour into a tight-sealing bottle. Allow to ferment for up to 48 hours. Store in the refrigerator!
FERMENTED ORANGE JUICE
This delicious and sparkling drink – kind of like Orangina – is a treat for your tongue and your gut.
Fresh orange juice, 2 ½ cups
Water kefir grains, 1/2 tsp, or whey, 2 tbsp
Sea salt, to taste
Pour the orange juice into a glass jar. Add the culture starter or whey, and a pinch of salt. Fill the jar up with approximately 1 cup of water (room temperature). Cover with the lid and give a quick shake. Leave it at room temperature for 48 hours. Follow up by refrigerating it for a few hours, and enjoy!
APPLE CIDER VINEGAR DRINK
This cocktail-like drink can revive you on the warmest of days. The naturally fermented raw and unpasteurised apple cider vinegar offers plenty of health benefits.
Apple cider vinegar, 2 tbsp
Apple juice, 2 tbsp
Cold water, a glass
Cinnamon, a sprinkle
Combine all ingredients in a cup and stir or shake to combine. Serve chilled or over ice. Make sure you buy raw unfiltered organic apple cider vinegar.
PROBIOTIC GREEN JUICE
Greens are great for you, and juicing them allows you to get the nutrients in a jiffy. Kind of like a green smoothie with a probiotic addition!
Celery, 2 stalks
Parsley, 1 handful
Spinach leaves, 1 handful
Kale leaves, 1 handful
Probiotic capsule, 1
Juice all the ingredients, except the probiotic capsule. Open the probiotic capsule and empty contents into the juice. Stir well, and enjoy!