In every culture, people have included fermented foods in their diets. These are foods which have been cultured, supplying probiotics and health-building enzymes. Despite the hype over probiotic drinks, yogurts, and bars, live and active probiotics are difficult to find today.
All cultured products begin with live, active cultures. That means the microorganisms are alive and working to culture the milk. Unfortunately, the heat used in the production of most products kills off the bacteria and they die quickly on the shelf. For example, yogurt is made with active cultures, although, they may not survive the production process to have any benefit.
A claim saying, “made with live cultures” implies zero probiotic benefits. It doesn’t say the cultures are STILL alive. Similarly, “contains live cultures” does not mean that they are active. If you are seeking a probiotic benefit, you need “live and active cultures.”
Yogurt is the most popular fermented food in the U.S. Although most yogurt sold has been pasteurized and has added sugars, which makes it a dessert. For probiotic benefit, purchase plain yogurt made with live and active cultures.
Sauerkraut was in BBC News, last year. It was reported that sauerkraut could cure the avian flu (bird flu) and some studies show it reduces the risk of breast cancer. Most commercially prepared sauerkraut found on grocery shelves today is pasteurized, destroying enzymes and contains vinegar. You can find organic sauerkraut in whole food stores made with only cabbage, water, and sea salt. This will have the probiotic benefit you’re looking for.
Today, pickles are also mass produced and are not naturally fermented. They do not provide the benefits of probiotics unless they have live enzymes, which come with real fermented foods.
Kefir is a naturally fermented drink. Kefir contains several major strains of friendly bacteria not commonly found in yogurt (e.g., Lactobacillus kefyr, Leuconostoc mesenteroides subsp. cremoris, and Lactococcus lactis subsp. diacetylactis).
Miso is a fermented soy product from Japan, it provides live probiotics if it has not been pasteurized.
Kombucha is a fermented and sweetened tea. Kombucha has long been valued in many cultures of the world for its healing properties. It is fermented with a starter of yeast and other microorganisms. Some kombucha tea can have too much sugar, elevating yeast and fungal infection.
What about trendy probiotic drinks? Products like Dannon Activa are pasteurized. In addition, they contain between 15 and 17 grams of sugar. That’s four teaspoons of sugar in just three ounces! They have added ingredients like corn starch and modified corn starch. All of these lower Dannon Activa’s nutritional value and the sugar feeds pathogenic microorganisms, like candida. Probiotic drinks aren’t cheap either. A tiny three-ounce bottle will run you about fifty-five cents.
I suggest you save your money, go to your whole foods store and purchase naturally fermented foods to eat. Then purchase live and active probiotic supplements. It will not only be healthier, but cheaper than trendy, gimmicky fruit yogurts, drinks, and bars.
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