Since I was a little girl, probiotic foods have always been a big part of my diet. This has a lot to do with my cultural background. In Russia, fermentation is central to our culture. Just like in Japan, we have a lot of probiotic-rich foods such as raw pickles and kefir. But it wasn’t until recently that I started questioning what benefits those foods have for our bodies.
Probiotics are basically products that contain live microbes. Those microbes remove toxins from our bodies, facilitate food digestion, strengthen our immune system, as well as treat different skin conditions, allergies, IBS (irritable bowlsyndrome) and many other.
Organisms that live in the human gut have a major impact on our overall health, as most health conditions are directly related to microbiome shifts. There are quite a few things that can change our microbiome: GM food, food colorings and preservatives, antibiotics, caesarian deliveries and a decline in breastfeeding. So we need to take some actions to restore it. One of them is to increase consumption of foods rich in active cultures such as fermented vegetables, miso, yogurt, kefir, kombucha and other foods containing live bacteria. You can also repopulate your gut by eating prebiotics – foods that are not digested by gastric acid and enzymes and absorbed into the intestines. Since they enter intestines, they are fermented by intestinal flora (alive microbes), which stimulates their activity and growth. Some of the prebiotic-rich foods are onions, garlic, eggplant, green tea, asparagus, bananas, and leeks. Another thing is to stop eating processed and manufactured food, and reduce the use of antibiotics.
Overall, an important thing to keep in mind that our gut constitutes 70 percent of the immune system, so in order for your immune system to thrive and protect you from illnesses your diet should consist of whole, unprocessed foods that will support your intestinal health.