Probiotic foods are rapidly gaining popularity, thanks to a number of advertisements featuring them as ideal foods for losing weight. Probiotic foods contain live cultures of microorganisms that are beneficial to good health. Yogurt is the most popular probiotic food, although it was originally consumed as nourishment rather than a health or dietary supplement.
Your intestines are in fact home to a huge population of probiotic or good bacteria, as well as bad bacteria. Both good and bad bacteria help maintain equilibrium in your body, although the normal balance should be 85 percent good bacteria and 15 percent bad bacteria. When you have poor health habits, bad bacteria multiply rapidly, causing diseases to develop. Therefore, you should increase the amount of good bacteria in your body by regularly eating probiotic foods.
Aside from being the most popular probiotic food, yogurt is also the easiest to find. You can buy yogurt from practically all supermarkets and grocers. Yogurt is made from milk subjected to bacterial fermentation. It has high calcium for strong bones and protein for muscle buildup. Yogurt is beneficial for better digestion and for prevention of coronary heart disease.
Kimchi is the national food of Korea. It is a very spicy vegetable dish that is seasoned with red pepper, garlic and ginger. Kimchi is prepared by adding a mixture of red pepper, ginger, garlic, salt and fish sauce to a vegetable, such as cabbage, cucumber, green onion, radish or eggplant. This is then set aside to undergo fermentation for about four weeks. The bacteria present in the ingredients of kimchi carry out the fermentation process. Kimchi is a good source of vitamins A for healthy vision, B1 for energy production, B2 for red blood cell production and C for healthy teeth, bones and skin. It also provides calcium, iron for hemoglobin production and beta-carotene.
Miso is a Japanese food paste that is produced by the fungal fermentation of a mixture of soybeans, salt and barley or rice grains. The fungus that accomplishes the fermentation process is known in Japan as koji (Aspergillus oryzae). Miso is a protein-rich food. It is also a source of vitamin B12 for normal brain function, zinc for proper immune system function, manganese for reducing fatigue and copper for iron absorption.
Tempeh is an Indonesian cake produced as a result of fungal fermentation of soybeans. It is prepared by adding a fermentation starter containing Rhizopus oligosporus, a mold fungus, to slightly cooked soybeans, which are then set aside to ferment for one to two days. Like miso, tempeh is protein rich. In addition, as tempeh does not contain salt, it is recommended for people on a low-salt diet.
Matto is food made from fermented soybeans. In natto, however, fermentation is carried out by Bacillus subtilis, a bacterial species. Natto is a Japanese food known for its strong odor and flavor, and slippery texture when chewed. It is also high in protein and vitamin K for blood clotting.