To finish up our flu fighting serie, we wanted to address probiotics. If you haven’t had a chance to check out the other posts on antioxidants and vitamin D, make sure you do here and here! There’s even a bonus recipe you can find here.

Probiotics are often referred to as the friendly or good bacteria. This is because they live in the digestive system and help keep your gut healthy. Good gut flora plays a crucial role in reducing inflammation and disease prevention which comes in handy when you are trying to strengthen your immune system for cold and flu season.

Additionally, they can also provide support with fertility. The state of the gut flora is very important to consider when addressing fertility issues since the best approach is to consider the body as a whole.

There are many varieties of friendly bacteria but the most commonly known would be Lactobacillus acidophilus. This bacteria is great for reinstating colon health, especially after taking antibiotics. With regular use it may even replace harmful bacteria in the colon or vaginal tract, where acidophilus is known to help treat yeast infections. It is also helpful with production of some B vitamins which we know can benefit fertility issues.

Bifidobacterium bifidum is also another common bacteria. This culture is more prevalent in children but can also be an important part of the adult gastrointestinal tract. This one also helps in the synthesis of B vitamins and with food digestion.

You can easily get probiotics in a supplement form. Just keep in mind some are shelf stable and some need to be refrigerated. Alternately, you can include foods to your diet that are great sources of these friendly bacteria. Most people are aware that yogurt is a great food source, but did you know you can get them from a variety of cultured and fermented foods? These include kimchi, kefir, kombucha, tempeh, miso or any fermented fruits or vegetables.

Sauerkraut is another great option and is so easily made at home!

All you need is a cabbage head, a tablespoon of sea salt and a mason jar!

  • Shred your cabbage into ribbons with a knife or the food processor.
  • Place the cabbage in a bowl and add the salt.
  • Knead the shredded cabbage for a couple minutes. You have to really get in there to release all the juices!
  • Press all the cabbage at the bottom of the bowl, cover with a towel and let sit on the counter for 6 to 8 hours.
  • When the wait is over, you should have a nice juicy mixture of salted cabbage.
  • Add the mixture to a large mason jar. Make sure you press the cabbage down firmly as you add it to the jar. It may look like a lot of cabbage, but believe me it will fit if you really pack it in there.
  • The cabbage should sit 1 inch below the top and that last portion should be full of brine. You want the liquid to come to the top to avoid spoiling.
  • Screw the lid on tight. You will want to place your jar into a plate or a bowl to collect the juices that will overflow with the fermentation.
  • Let sit at room temperature. Depending on the level of fermentation you are looking for, your sauerkraut can be ready from 3 days to 4 weeks. Make sure to transfer to the fridge when ready.
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