Gut-friendly Food: Probiotics
Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that benefit the digestive system. People generally think of bacteria as the cause of various diseases. The fact is, the human body is occupied by bacteria, both good and bad for health. These bacteria, called probiotics, however, involve many natural, essential bodily processes.
There are many foods that can replace and replenish these healthy bacteria in our digestive tract that may have been lost due to illness or high doses of medicines, like antibiotics.
Probiotics are effective in treating many gut related problems such as irritable bowel syndrome, and bloating. Probiotics are important for urinary, vaginal, and oral health. Probiotics have external benefits, too; they can help minimize the side effects of many skin problems, such as eczema.
There are several ways to incorporate probiotics into your diet. Here’s just a few:
Yogurt is a great source of probiotics. Make sure you choose yogurt that is labeled as having “live and active cultures.” Yogurt is also loaded with vitamins like B5 and B12, which are important for blood and nerve cells.
It also contains major and minor minerals such as potassium, zinc, iodine, and phosphorus, all of which take part in various important body processes like maintaining healthy blood pressure and slowing the aging process.
Making homemade yogurt in an Instant Pot is a simple and easy process. Here are the step-by-step instructions to guide you through the yogurt-making process:
Instant Pot Homemade Yogurt
- 1 liter of milk (I like to use A-2 milk, or a grass fed organic whole milk works very well too)
- 2 tablespoons of yogurt starter or plain yogurt with live active cultures
- Optional: sweeteners, flavorings, or fruit for flavoring the yogurt
- Pour the milk into the inner pot of your Instant Pot.
- Close the lid of the Instant Pot and make sure the pressure release valve is set to the sealing position.
- Press the “Yogurt” button on your Instant Pot. The default setting is typically “Normal” or “Medium.”
- Adjust the time on the Instant Pot to 8 hours. This will allow the yogurt to incubate and ferment.
- After setting the time, leave the Instant Pot undisturbed and let it work its magic.
- Once the incubation period is complete, carefully open the Instant Pot lid.
- Take out about 1/2 cup of the warm milk from the pot and mix it with the yogurt starter or plain yogurt in a separate bowl until well combined.
- Pour the yogurt mixture back into the Instant Pot with the rest of the warm milk. Stir gently to ensure the starter is evenly distributed.
- If you prefer sweetened or flavored yogurt, this is the time to add any sweeteners, flavorings, or fruit to the mixture. Stir well to incorporate.
- Place the lid back on the Instant Pot and allow the yogurt to chill in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight.
- Once chilled, your homemade yogurt is ready to be enjoyed!
Note: Remember to reserve a small amount of your homemade yogurt to use as a starter for your next batch.
Making yogurt in an Instant Pot allows you to customize the flavors and control the ingredients, resulting in a creamy and delicious yogurt right in your own kitchen. Enjoy the satisfaction of making your own yogurt and savor the taste of your homemade creation!
Pickles made through lacto-fermentation—a pickling technique that does not use vinegar—are rich in probiotics. (Vinegar contains acetic acid, which has an impact on probiotics, making traditional pickles less effective for probiotic purposes.)
Pickles containing sea salt and water are more beneficial because this mixture feeds the growth of good bacteria, helping maintain a good digestive system.
Making homemade pickles is a fun and rewarding process that allows you to customize the flavors and ingredients to your liking.
Here’s a simple recipe for making easy Homemade Pickles:
- 4-6 pickling cucumbers (or other firm cucumbers)
- 2 cups of water
- 1 ½ cups of white vinegar
- 2 tablespoons of salt
- 1 tablespoon of sugar (optional)
- Pickling spices (such as dill, mustard seeds, coriander seeds, garlic cloves, or red pepper flakes) to taste
- Wash the cucumbers thoroughly and slice them into spears or slices according to your preference.
- In a saucepan, combine the water, vinegar, salt, and sugar (if using). Bring the mixture to a gentle boil, stirring until the salt and sugar have dissolved completely. Remove from heat.
- Place the pickling spices of your choice in the bottom of a clean, sterilized jar or jars. Feel free to get creative and mix and match spices for different flavor combinations.
- Pack the sliced cucumbers tightly into the jar(s), leaving a little bit of headspace at the top.
- Pour the hot vinegar mixture over the cucumbers, ensuring that they are completely submerged.
- Allow the jar(s) to cool to room temperature before sealing with airtight lids.
- Once cooled, place the jar(s) in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours to allow the flavors to develop and the cucumbers to pickle. The longer they sit, the stronger the flavor will be.
- After 24 hours, your homemade pickles are ready to enjoy! They can be stored in the refrigerator for several weeks.
Note: If you prefer a sweeter pickle, you can increase the sugar in the brine mixture to suit your taste. Additionally, you can experiment with different types of vinegar (e.g., apple cider vinegar or rice vinegar) for unique flavor profiles.
Making your own pickles allows you to control the ingredients, resulting in crisp and tangy pickles that are perfect for snacking or adding a delightful crunch to your favorite sandwiches or burgers. Enjoy the satisfaction of homemade pickles and experiment with different flavors and spices to create your signature pickle recipe!
Another way to increase your probiotics is to take a probiotic supplement.
I use and recommend Ion Bion from Intelligence of Nature. It’s an incredible probiotic made straight from the earth. Or if you are wanting to get something at your local grocery store make sure to look for a probiotic that can survive stomach acid and one that has a variety of different strains.
Some other good sources of probiotics include Sauerkraut; miso soup, a fermented soybean paste that is also rich in vitamin B and antioxidants; kefir; sourdough bread; tempeh, which is also made of fermented soybeans and packed with proteins. (If you’d like to learn how to make Sauerkraut you can find my easy recipe here.)
Take your pick and do your body some good!
To a healthier mindset and a healthier YOU!
If you want to get some ideas for others ways to keep your gut healthy – take a look at these ideas