Microbes In Food And Associated Health Benefits

Be it at home or in school we’ve always been taught about the importance of hygiene and health and how important it is to keep away from bacteria and other germs. By prioritizing our personal hygiene and that of our home and its surroundings, we aim to protect ourselves against these microscopic beings.

Steamed fava beans (baghla) topped with spices and vinegar are the perfect mountain food. Taken at Ganjnameh near Hamadan, Iran

However, did you know that consuming certain kind of bacteria could be quite good for your health? Yes! You heard it right. Eating certain kind of bacteria can keep your intestines healthy and add to its proper functioning.

Microbes play an important role in the production of certain kinds of food that we consume on a regular basis. A number of milk products like curds, sour cream, yogurt, cheese, and buttermilk are the result of the presence of lactic acid bacteria. Wine and bread are made by the mixing of yeast with the other ingredients.

Fermentation as the result of bacterial acetic acid helps in the preparation of different kinds of vinegar, black and green teas, several kinds of pickles and sauces. Consuming these kinds of food on a regular basis boost up the population of microbes or the good bacteria in your gut. You can find out more here on probiotics and the associated health benefits. What are some of the popular food with probiotics?

Kombucha (fermented tea drink)

Kombucha is a sweetened fermented green or black tea drink that is quite popular in the Asian regions. SCOBY a friendly colony of good bacteria and yeast is used to ferment this drink. The process of fermentation releases probiotic bacteria which is good for your health. Some of the known health benefits associated with the consumption of kombucha include improved gut health, boosting up of the immune system, reduced risk of infections and cancer, reduced levels of cholesterol and associated diseases, and weight loss.

Kefir (fermented milk drink)

Kefir is made out of the milk of a goat or a cow by adding kefir grains to it. Kefir grains are cultures of yeast and lactic acid bacteria. Kefir has a tangy and tart flavor and its consistency is similar to that of a yogurt drink. The probiotics in kefir make it a healthy drink. Some of the advantages of consuming kefir include nutritional benefits, reduced levels of cholesterol and blood sugar, improved gastrointestinal health, and healing properties.

Tempeh (made from soybean)

A fermented product made out of soybean, tempeh is from Indonesia. The process of fermentation brings about surprising benefits to its nutritional profile. This fermentation process also helps in the better absorption of minerals like zinc and iron which is usually impaired due to the presence of phytic acid in soybeans and in the production of Vitamin B12 that is not present in soybean.

This is considered to be a good substitute for protein-rich meat all over the world. Tempeh is rich in fiber and easily digestible making it ideal for your gut. It is good for people suffering from high levels of sodium, and blood sugar. It’s also known to have some properties of antibiotics.

Sauerkraut (fermented shredded cabbage)

Sauerkraut is a traditional food from Europe which is made out from fermenting cabbage that is finely shredded.  It is often used as an accompaniment dish and tastes sour and salty. This dish is rich in probiotics, certain vitamins, minerals, and fibers. Sauerkraut is good for your gastrointestinal health giving you a healthy gut, it helps in preventing anemia as it is rich in Iron, aids weight loss, good for the healthy functioning of heart and brain, gives better levels of immunity and good for bones.

Yogurt

Yogurt is made by fermenting milk using lactic acid bacteria and bifidobacteria. Known to be the best source of probiotics, yogurt is a favorite food all over the world and has several health benefits associated with it. The probiotics in yogurt help to protect children and women against exposure to metals boost your immune system, relieves irritable bowel syndrome, and helps in preventing digestive disorders. It is good for people with lactose intolerance.  Being rich in calcium yogurt is good for your bones as well.

Kimchi (fermented vegetable dish)

This is a Korean dish that is usually made by fermenting cabbages or other vegetables. This dish contains the presence of lactic acid bacteria which is a probiotic that is beneficial to health. Kimchi is flavored using seasonings like garlic, ginger, red chili flakes and salt and hence it is quite spicy. Kimchi is good for a person’s digestive health, has anti-aging properties, good for skin and brain, protects against cancer, asthma, atherosclerosis, and has high levels of antioxidants.

Buttermilk (a dairy drink that’s fermented)

There are two versions of buttermilk cultured buttermilk and the traditional buttermilk. It’s important to note that only the traditional buttermilk has probiotics in it which is beneficial for your health. Buttermilk is a drink made from fermented milk, which is usually the leftover liquid after removing butter from curds. The healthy bacteria in buttermilk are good for gastrointestinal health and helps in detoxifying your body.

Miso (fermented soybeans used as seasoning)

Soybeans are fermented using koji (a fungus) and salt in preparing Miso, which is a popular seasoning in Japan. This seasoning is also prepared by mixing rye, rice, and barley along with soybeans. Consuming miso helps in maintaining healthy gut flora that’s necessary to fight against toxins and bacteria that are harmful.

It also aids proper digestion, prevents gas and bloating, and it’s good for inflammatory bowel disorder. Miso is good for your immune system, helps in bringing down the risk of certain types of cancers, the risk of stroke is reduced, it’s good for reducing cholesterol, diabetes, and also for the health of your brain and heart.

The health benefits associated with the consumption of probiotics, the live microbes, are tremendous. There is enough evidence to suggest that these microbes also help in improving the health of your heart, brings down depression, gives you a healthy skin besides improving the intestinal health. Both your brain and body do have much to gain from these microbes.

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