Inside your digestive tract you have approximately 100 trillion bacteria—some healthy and unhealthy. Your challenge is to increase the number of healthy bacteria to have a healthy gut. A healthy gut will help you:

  • Digest food well;

  • Protect from pathogens;

  • Detoxify harmful compounds;

  • Balance your immune system. 80% of your immune system is located in your gut;

  • Produce serotonin which creates a healthier mood..

How do you increase the healthy bacteria in your gut?

Probiotics are a culture of beneficial bacteria that you can take as a supplement or by eating fermented food. When food is fermented it sits and steeps until the sugars and carbs become bacteria-boosting agents. If you are willing to spend time in the kitchen fermenting foods, you can save one-third of the cost of buying fermented foods from your health food stores.

If you don't make or buy fermented foods, you can take a probiotic supplement. Dr. Joseph Mercola, a holistic physician recommends buying a supplement of at least 100 million CFU'S for proper colonization and taking at least 350 mg of probiotics.  His Complete Probiotics can be purchased here:

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However if you have any of the following diseases, then you may want to check out the GAPS Nutritional Program gapsdiet.com developed by Dr. McBride:

  • Lupus

  • Crohn's Disease

  • Ulcerative colitis

  • Kidney problems

  • Urinary conditions

  • Allergic conditions

  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

  • Fibromyalgia

  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

Is it Better to Make Or Buy Probiotics?

According to Dr. Joe Mercola, its better to get the majority of your probiotics from foods since fermented foods contain 100 times more probiotics than a supplement. Whoa, what if you are like me with very little time left in the day. I compromise and eat fermented  food at one meal 4 days a week and take supplements at one meal 3 days a week.  

Buying Fermented Food

The good news is that you don't have to spend hours in the kitchen making all of your fermented foods. The following is a list of the least expensive fermented foods with their nutritional content:

  • Kefir is a fermented milk product that tastes like yogurt. It contains B-12, calcium, magnesium, vitamin K2, biotin, folate and enzymes. Do not buy kefir that is loaded with sugar. The Greek Gods is the only brand that I've found that doesn't have sugar.

  • Yogurt with probiotics is fermented. Again do not buy yogurt loaded with fruits or sugar. Ideally buy grass-fed.

  • Sauerkraut from fermented cabbage is high in vitamin A, C, K and B, iron, copper, calcium, sodium, manganese and magnesium. My top pick is at Trader Joe's at a very reasonableprice. Their fermented sauerkraut also contains pickles.

  • Pickles contain vitamin K. When choosing a jar of pickles, buy organic. Not all pickles are fermented.

  • Tempeh is fermented soy. It is inexpensive and a good source of protein. Instead of adding meat to your stir-fry dishes, Tempeh is an excellent meat substitute.

  • Raw cheese is another affordable product thanks to Trader Joe's.

  • Kim chi is a Korean dish that is very spicy. Don't make the mistake I did buying Kim Chi atan Asian supermarket—it contained msg. Whole Foods Market sells healthy Kim Chi.

  • Natto is a Japanese dish with fermented soybeans. I haven't tried this as I understand it is an acquired taste. It is difficult to find in local stores.

  • Kombuchu is fermented black tea and sugar with vintegar.. It contains B vitamins. I don't like the taste nor the price. It can be purchased at Whole Foods and Fresh Market

  • Miso.is a fermented soybean with koji, a fungus. If you like making soup, this would be for you. It can be purchased at Whole Foods and Fresh Market.

It helps to choose your probiotic food according to your health needs. According to Dr. Josh Axe, a Certified Nutrition Specialist and Natural Medicine expert, all of the above boost immunity and increase digestion and they also:

  • Kefir-fights allergies and heals irritable bowel disease, kills candida

  • Kim Chi & Natto-improves cardiovascular. Natto is an anti-inflammatory;

  • Tempeh-reduces cholesterol and aids in muscle recovery;

  • Sauerkraut and Tempeh and Pickles increase bone density;

  • Kombucha helps with weight loss, increases energy and detoxes the body.

Making Fermented Food

Dr. Andrew Weil, Integrative Medicine physician recommends PerfectPickler.com. Some of their recipes appear yummy-- Asparagus A Cru, Texas Caviar (a salsa), Kim Chi Tarter Sauce— all from his easy-peasy recipes. They will sell you the fermenting equipment as well.. I'm going to give them a try to increase the fermented foods in my diet. http://PerfectPickler.com/ .

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