It’s time for a gut check! Your body’s microbiome is made up of trillions of bacteria. Before your stomach starts to churn, remember–not all bacteria are bad. A large number and diversity of bacteria are linked to overall health. The gastrointestinal tract accounts for more than 70 percent of your immune system by keeping foreign invaders out of your body. Fostering the “friendly flora” helps your body fight off infection, improve digestion, and may even contribute to brain health and better skin. It’s all about a healthy balance. Smoking, antibiotic use, stress, poor diet, and lack of exercise can throw off the balance of bacteria in the gut. Wondering how to feed your flora? Begin with our suggested foods—all available at Fresh Thyme Farmers Market.
Kefir is a cultured, fermented drink most commonly made with cow’s milk. It tastes tart like yogurt but is thinner. Bacteria, yeast, and milk proteins are introduced to kefir through a “starter” and fermented at room temperature. Kefir provides calcium, protein, and B vitamins.
Yogurt is made from milk that has been fermented with friendly bacteria, and it is a source of protein and calcium. Look for yogurts with active or live cultures for the greatest benefits to gut health. Be careful to avoid yogurts with high amounts of added sugar.
Miso is a Japanese condiment typically made from fermented soybeans. Miso paste, sold with the Asian foods, is salty and can vary in color from white to brown. Use it to make miso soup. It contributes protein, aids digestion, and promotes growth of healthy bacteria in the body.
Pickled Vegetables are another source of probiotics. Pickling is a method of food preservation that has been around for thousands of years. Pickled vegetables, such as cucumbers, are made with salt, so enjoy them in moderation due to their sodium content.
Kimchi is a traditional Korean side dish made from fermented, salted cabbage. It may also contain vegetables such as radishes and green onion, as well as spices, ginger, and garlic. Find kimchi in jars in the refrigerated section. It is loaded with vitamins A, B, and C.