It certainly is important that we eat the right foods. But, almost more importantly, we must take care of our digestion so that we are able to assimilate the nutrients in the food we eat! Not only will this ensure that we have good digestion and look and feel our best but this also speeds up our metabolism! One of the best ways we can improve our digestion and promote weight loss is by adding probiotics to our diet!
Probiotics are the healthy bacteria that naturally grown in your intestines that keep your stomach and intestines free of disease-causing bacteria and boost bacteria beneficial to digestion. The word probiotic literally means “for life.” They also boost our immune system, improve our digestion, fight infection, help prevent food allergies and yeast overgrowth, prevent constipation, and help treat inflammatory bowel disease.
In a simpler, more ideal world we would have enough in our bodies through the wholesome food that we ate, but with our busy, stressful lives, unhealthy diets full of processed foods and sugar, alcohol and coffee consumption, and by taking antibiotics, we rob our bodies of these beneficial bacterium.So, how do we reintroduce probiotics into our diets?The most well-known probiotic is yogurt, which contains the live-active cultures called acidophilus. However, all yogurts are not created equal. Many commercial brands are just glorified gelatin with lots of sugar. Make sure you buy a brand that contains live-active cultures and one with natural sweeteners such as honey.Stoneyfield, Brown Cow and the Greek yogurt Fage are my favorites, and contain Lactobacillus reuteri, a specific bacterium that appears to stimulate white blood cells according to a Swedish study. There is also a brand from Iceland called Skyris, which is delicious. My daughter drinks DanActive Immunity in blueberry every morning!An even better choice than yogurt isKefir, which has more beneficial bacterium than yogurt. Kefir has a laxative effect and keeps your intestines free of parasites. It is a natural antibiotic and has a high level of protein, many of the B vitamins including B-12 and all the essential fatty acids. It is easy to make at home or you can buy it in your local health store or Whole Foods. My son loves having strawberry or raspberry drinkable Kefir in the morning to start his day. Have your children drink this once a day and it will help keep them well during the cold winter months! My son used to have terrible eczema every winter and, after having Kefir each morning, he has not had even one breakout.
Throughout the world, various civilizations have also used fermented foodssuch as sauerkraut, miso, pickles, salted fish and cured meats, which all contain lactic acid, which helps us digest our food and fight off unhealthy bacteria.
The easiest way to take probotics, though, is through Acidophilus supplements, which can be easily purchased at your local health store or pharmacy. For maximum benefit, they should be taken on an empty stomach. I recommend to my clients that they go to bed with the pills and a big glass of water by the bedside table and take them first thing when they wake up. Supplements are a perfect way for those who are vegan or lactose intolerant to integrate probiotics into their diets. An ideal combination is to take the probiotics supplements along with Kefir, yogurt or other fermented foods every day.
Below are some of my family’s favorite recipes:
1 cup frozen strawberries
1 cup Kefir
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
This smoothie can really be done with any of your favorite fruits or vegetables. Put them all in the blender and blend!
Chocolate Kefir Smoothie
1 cup Kefir
1 frozen banana
1 heaping teaspoonful unsweetened chocolate powder
Honey, stevia or agave nectar to sweeten
Blend, and a decadent, delicious way to start your day!
Kefir Strawberry Ice Cream
1 cup Kefir
Ice or any frozen fruit (for Green Tea susbstitute green tea powder)
Scallion “Cream Cheese”
1 cup Kefir
A splash of garlic powder or chopped garlic
½ teaspoon sea salt
Blend together in blender or food processor. This can be spread on a bagel or toast in the morning, poured over vegetables, or even paired with smoked salmon on pita for an appetizer. To make spicy, add cayenne pepper or garlic.