In the last few decades, there has been a lot of interest in probiotic supplements and foods, thanks to studies suggesting that friendly bacteria could help to treat or prevent an array of ailments: from indigestion and diarrhea to irritable bowel syndrome and chronic inflammation — the root cause of diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
When we ingest more of these friendly organisms, which bear long names like lactobacillus acidophilus, they help to control the amount of harmful bacteria in our gut and prevent them from growing out of control.
Since the lactobacillus bacteria found in each probiotic food are not the same, plus the fact that every bacterium plays a different role in the body, it is a good idea to include a variety of naturally fermented foods in our diet.
But regardless of which probiotic food you choose, it is important to choose one that is not pasteurized or homogenized as these will destroy most of the useful microorganisms that lend probiotic foods their health-promoting powers.
Needless to say, when you are eating probiotic foods at home, it is best to process them minimally, if at all. It is also important to buy fermented foods from a source you can trust as improperly fermented foods can be toxic.
Here are some traditional probiotic foods that have been enjoyed by people from around the world for thousands of years:
Natto is a traditional Japanese food made from fermented soybeans. It contains the bacterial strainbacillus subtilis (used to be known as bacillus antto) which gives natto its characteristic stringy consistency.
Natto is one of my favorite probiotic foods, but sadly not all my friends share the same taste. It has a distinctive pungent smell and an equally unique flavor not found in other foods. The beans are sticky and when chewed, turns slippery in the mouth.