Need to improve your gut health? Here are six must-eat foods for good gut health from around the world.
The father of modern medicine, Hippocrates once said, “All disease begins in the gut.” Poor gut health can be linked to a whole series of medical conditions and diseases such as arthritis, cancer and cognitive decline. Having a healthy gut means that your body is receiving all the important nutrients from the food you eat. This protects your immune system and ensures that your body is in tip-top condition.
Probiotics, also known as good bacteria, is responsible for maintaining your gut health. A healthy balance of good bacteria in your gut can prevent inflammation of the gut (which can cause inflammatory bowel disease), burn your body fat, reduce your chances of insulin resistance and maintain your overall health. This is exactly the reason why you should consume food with probiotics.
As a rule of thumb, food that goes through a natural fermentation process tends to contain high amounts of good bacteria that can help your gut to function well. Here are different types of international delicacies that can improve your gut health. The best part? All of these delicacies can be found in our very own diverse and culturally-rich, Malaysia!
Sauerkraut is a vegetable dish made out of chopped cabbage which is salted and fermented in its own juices. This process is called lactic acid fermentation. Sauerkraut can be traced back to Germany and it is believed to have been around since the 4th century B.C! This delicacy is rich in vitamins C, B and K. Sauerkraut is available both fresh and packed such as in cans or bottles. However, in order to reap the full benefits of the probiotics in sauerkraut, it is best to eat it fresh. You can make your own sauerkraut by chopping up a medium sized cabbage and adding about 1 tablespoon of salt. Ferment this in a glass bottle in a cool room for at least three days.
Lassi, a refreshing Indian beverage that is similar to an ice blended smoothie. Typically, lassi contains a combination of milk, yoghurt, fresh fruit (such as mango) and honey. The yoghurt in this delicious drink is the reason why it is so good for your gut. You can order a lassi in almost any Indian restaurant or you can whip up a simple mango lassi at home. All you need is one cup of yoghurt (which contains live cultured bacteria), one tablespoon of honey, one and a half cups of milk and one mango, which has been chopped. Blend all ingredients in a blender and enjoy.
Miso paste is a Japanese seasoning made from fermented soybeans. This paste, which is rich in probiotics, also contains other nutrients such as protein, fibre and vitamin K. Miso paste is low in calories and is a great alternative to artificial seasoning and flavours. It is a handy ingredient to have on hand, especially in a 21st century kitchen, where time is of the essence! You can mix it with water for a delicious broth or glaze it on meat for a quick, nutritious and delicious meal.
Kefir is a fermented milk drink (cow, goat or sheep milk) that is made from kefir grains. Kefir grains are produced using a fermentation process that involves lactic acid and yeast. Kefir is believed to have originated from the Caucasus Mountains in Eurasia. This drink not only rich in probiotics, it can also be consumed by people who are lactose intolerant as it is 99 percent lactose-free. A cup of kefir contains about 11 grams of protein, making it a great breakfast or post-workout drink. To make homemade kefir, simply combine one tablespoon of kefir grains with one cup of organic milk. Pour mixture into a glass jar, seal it tight and ferment for 24 to 48 hours. When done, strain mixture and voila! You have a glass of kefir milk.
Tempeh is not new to us, Malaysians. Originally from our neighbour, Indonesia, this delicacy is made out of fermented soybeans or grains. Tempeh has a rich nutty flavour and is usually available in slices. It can be tossed into just about any dish and can even be grilled and eaten on it’s own, as a snack. Tempeh is also a good source of protein and iron, which contributes to your overall health.
Kimchi is a staple dish in Korea. Like sauerkraut, kimchi is rich in probiotics from the lactic acid fermentation process. Kimchi tastes both sour and spicy. It is rich in vitamin C. Kimchi can be purchased from Korean restaurants or made at home. Enjoy it with a bowl or multigrain rice or you can eat it on its own, as a snack.
Now that you have all these options, go ahead and get adventurous! Tickle your tastebuds and enjoy the gut-healthy benefits of these delicacies from around the world.
What is lactic acid fermentation?
Lactic acid fermentation happens when there are certain types of fungi and bacteria present in the food. Lactobacillus is a type of lactic acid bacteria. This bacteria is important for this fermentation process to occur. When lactobacillus, along with other lactic acid fungi and bacteria, is present, natural fermentation takes place and this gives the dish that a sour taste.