Bacteria: It’s Not All Bad
5 Fermented Super Foods
‘Bacteria’ is a pretty scary word. Most of us have had some really inconvenient, or even dangerous, things happen to us at the hands of it. But while the idea of microscopic living things crawling about may freak you out, we wanted to jump in and remind you that some of them are not only necessary, but even some of your best friends.
Did you know that there are more than 500 species of bacteria directly on you, right at this very moment? Before you go take a shower, we’re talking about the various bacteria all over, and under, your skin called the ‘skin microbiota’. This community of diverse bacteria actually help you not only stay protected from infections, and countless other environmental threats, they’re also responsible for keeping your skin healthy, firm, smooth, and youthful - the stuff we all want. In fact, disruptions in this ecosystem are to blame for the stuff we don’t want - dermatitis, rosacea, acne. In essence, yes, bacteria help you look cute.
We’ve also talked a lot about your gut microbiome, and how the community of bacteria there are big players in your immune system, digestion, and even some brain function. Your gut microbiome even has effects on your skin microbiota. And there’s reason to believe that loading up on these good guys do a world of good for everything from your gut, skin, brain, and beyond.
Kombucha is a great, delicious way to chug down some of these new friends we’re getting acquainted with, and even has some bacteria unique to kombucha itself. Kombucha has all of these great creatures because it’s a fermented food. If you read our blogs regularly, you know that fermentation is the chemical breakdown of a substance (most often, sugars) by bacteria and yeasts (and sometimes other microorganisms). But kombucha isn’t the only way to get a dose of all this good stuff. And we think, in your diets, you should team your kombucha up with some other things that gives a bacterial boost as well. So, here are 5 palate-expanding sidekicks to your brew:
Tempe(h): This Japanese creation is made from fermented soybeans and compressed into a cake-like form. It can be used in many ways, in many dishes, and often as a meat substitute. While it’s similar to tofu, in addition to being fermented, it actually uses the whole soybean, carrying with it a higher protein content, fiber, and different vitamins.
Kefir: A combination of consistency between a smoothie and yogurt, kefir is a cultured dairy product where kefir grains (little grains of proteins, bacteria, yeasts, and sugars) are added to milk. There are some studies that may show benefit not only for all of the things discussed above, but for people with lactose intolerance in the longer term. The drink itself, even though dairy, often seems well tolerated by those sensitive.
Miso: You’ve likely had this at your favorite Asian restaurant due to its popularity in soups, but can also be used in sauces, pastes, or pickling. Miso is another Japanese fermented soy product, but this time the soy is fermented with salt, and a fungus called koji. Also high in protein, bacteria, vitamins and minerals, there are some early studies that show correlation to miso and heart health. FYI, these are early studies, and only show correlation. If nothing else, it sure is tasty.
Kimchi: This is a very popular Korean side dish, and while it’s usually made from fermented cabbage, it can also be made from many other types of fermented vegetables. In fact, it’s a common practice in a lot of Asian cuisine to ferment different vegetables as a side dish or garnish. Standard kimchi, however, is a uniquely flavored, and quite spicy, fermented cabbage that can be added to nearly anything. There may even be early reason to believe it has regulating effects on insulin levels. But again, we really just recommend it because it’s delicious and has great bacteria.
Sauerkraut: We guess you could call this the German kimchi, and like its Korean counterpart, this tends to be a love-it-or-hate-it kind of food, sauerkraut arguably sparking more passionate responses in either camp. This shredded cabbage is fermented by lactic acid and bacteria, and this results in its trademark sour flavor. It’s known to have a lot of Vitamins C and K, and quite a high antioxidant content. However, as good as the bacteria may be for your gut, we will give a fair warning that this dish is also very famous for having additional gut effects that may make your dinner date have a difficult time being too near to you, if you catch our drift.
So, not only can you drink up these wonderful living things we hope you’re getting better acquainted with, you can put some on your plate too. And if ‘booch is still your favorite destination to get some bacterial boost, head on over to our recipes section to see how you can even get kombucha on your plate too.