Get Better Abs… By Doing Less, More Effectively (4 tips!)

If you’re into fitness, then better abs are probably one of your continual goals, right? So, you do sit-up after sit-up, plank after plank, but your abs aren’t quite as tight and toned as you’d like them to be. Sometimes, traditional ab workouts just aren’t enough. You may need a little something extra to transform typical ab exercises into that coveted six-pack and a stronger body overall.

Your core muscles go far beyond simply your abdominals, and include all the muscles besides the ones in your arms and legs.1 They offer support, initiate movement, stabilize the body, and make it easier to do a variety of physical activities. The core muscles include deeper muscles that are not visible when performing typical workouts, including the transverse abdominis and the pelvic floor.2 These are also the muscles that ought to be utilized when working towards a more efficient exercise plan.

There are other ways to work your abs than doing rep after rep of crunches or sit-ups. Some of them may even seem counterintuitive, but they are great ways of engaging and activating your ab muscles, which, in turn, make them more toned and defined. Incorporate these tips into your daily ab regimen for a better, more effective workout.

1. Work Your Glutes

Though it may seem odd, flexing your glutes during ab exercises can give you that extra edge to really hone your stomach muscles. Working your glutes has two functions that work your abs. First, it causes hip extension, which helps activate your ab muscles. Second, it causes your pelvis to do a posterior tilt that further activates those same muscles. All this ab activation allows you to get a better, more efficient workout.3

How To Do It: When doing a plank, squeeze your glutes as hard as you can. You will feel your abs tightening and becoming extra tense. This tension will work your abs like nothing else. Strengthening your glutes by doing exercises like squats and lunges will also help to strengthen your core.

2. Focus On Breathing

Simply exhaling – yes exhaling – can have a profound effect on your ab exercises. When you exhale completely and fully before each ab rep, you set your rib cage down, and this helps to effectively activate your ab muscles.4

Breathing deeply each time also helps activate your abs and provides stability. This stability allows all of your muscles to work at their maximum capacity. When doing a plank or crunches, for example, take the deepest breath you can, then blow it out completely. Count each breath as you would count a rep, and focus on making each breath as efficient as it can be.5

3. Engage Your Pelvic Floor

When you engage your pelvic floor, you better work your transverse abdominis. These muscles are at the front and sides of your abdominal wall, layered underneath your obliques, and they are considered an important part of your core. They act as a girdle for your frame and provide excellent stability for your spine. You will generally feel them contracting every time you cough.6

How To Do It: To engage your pelvic floor, as funny as it sounds, act like you’re trying to hold in your pee. Maintain this tension as you do sit-ups and other ab exercises.7

4. Build And Maintain Tension

Developing tension throughout your entire core is essential in building strong muscles and also protecting your lower back. Additionally, it helps build muscles in places that aren’t immediately visible when you look in the mirror, but that are necessary in getting the rest of your abs to get that desired taut and defined look.

How To Do It: Sitting up straight and tall, put your hands on either side of your waist near your lower back and flex the muscles around your waist so that you feel your ribs pull into your center and your shoulders pull back a little. You should also feel a contraction under your hands. It’s important to maintain this tension as you breathe, because flexing can sometimes restrict breathing. This action of flexing and breathing is also known as bracing. Practice bracing as you do your ab exercises to get in a better workout.8

Another way to build tension is simply to flex your abs (like you’re bracing yourself for a punch) while doing your sit-ups and crunches.9

Better abs | Probiotic America

Make The Most Of Your Workout

Small adjustments can help take your standard ab routine to the next level. Try to change things up every once in awhile by incorporating a different tip on alternate days of exercising. But remember, any type of physical activity can potentially cause injury. If you feel excessive pain or discomfort during a workout, stop doing the activity. If pain persists or gets worse, you might want to contact a professional.

Want more useful health tips? Keep reading:

5 Simple Ways to Restore Gut Health After Antibiotics
Got Stomach Pain? Maybe Your Diet is to Blame

Sources:

1.http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/multimedia/core-strength/sls-20076575
2.http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/core-exercises/art-20044751
3.http://www.bornfitness.com/why-your-ab-workouts-dont-work/
4.https://www.unm.edu/~lkravitz/Article%20folder/abdominal.html
5.http://www.menshealth.com/fitness/breathing-during-core-exercises
6.http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/multimedia/core-strength/sls-20076575?s=1
7.http://www.prevention.com/fitness/strength-training/pelvic-floor-exercises-prevent-urinary-incontinence
8.http://www.bornfitness.com/why-your-ab-workouts-dont-work/
9.https://www.unm.edu/~lkravitz/Article%20folder/abdominal.html

10 Canker Sore Remedies to Make Them Disappear…Fast!

If you’ve ever had a canker sore, you know how painful they can be. Canker sores are a type of mouth ulcer also called an aphthous ulcer. An estimated 25 percent of Americans have recurring canker sores. While canker sores can be annoying, they are not serious and usually go away on their own within two weeks. 1

What Causes Canker Sores?

The good news is that canker sores are not contagious. The not-so-great news is that researchers are unsure of the exact cause of canker sores. 2 Family history, as well as nutritional deficiencies, hormonal changes, food allergies and stress are often associated with mouth ulcers. Mouth injuries, usually due to dental work, may also cause canker sores.

What Do Canker Sores Look Like?

Canker sores are usually small and either oval or round. They often have a white or yellowish center. They occur inside the lips, cheeks, or other soft tissues of the mouth. Some people confuse canker sores with cold sores, but the two are different. Cold sores are blisters caused by the herpes simplex virus. Cold sores can appear outside of the mouth; canker sores cannot. Cold sores are usually smaller than canker sores, and they also tend to heal faster. 3

When you’ve got a canker sore, you want to feel better fast. Here are 10 canker sore remedies to ease your pain and help your mouth heal.

1. Swish with Baking Soda

Household baking soda and water can make an effective mouth rinse for dealing with canker sores. Mix one teaspoon of baking soda with ½ cup warm water.4 Swish this mixture around in your mouth for a few minutes, then spit it out. Some people also experience good results by dabbing baking soda directly onto canker sores several times per day.

2. Try Vitamin B12

Many people are deficient in vitamin B12. Since nutrition deficiencies are a possible cause of canker sores, it stands to reason that meeting these deficiencies can help cure them. A 2009 study published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine found that taking a vitamin B12 supplement effectively treated repeat canker sore outbreaks. Study participants who suffered from recurrent canker sores took 1000 mcg of vitamin B12 at bedtime for six months. Participants reported fewer canker sore outbreaks, outbreaks of shorter duration, and less pain. 5

3. Zinc Up!

Zinc is an essential mineral your body needs for good health. Research has shown that patients with recurrent canker sores may have low levels of zinc. For these patients, zinc supplements have been found to decrease canker sores in clinical trials.6 Women need 8 grams of zinc daily; men need 11 grams.7 Many people prefer to take zinc supplements in lozenge form.

canker sore | Probiotic America

4. Chill Out

Just like you’d ice up an injury to help alleviate pain and inflammation, ice can help your canker sore as well. Hold an ice cube on the canker sore until it becomes numb. Popsicles and cold drinks may also help to decrease the inflammation and pain of canker sores.8

5. Pump Iron

Iron is a mineral your body needs to make hemoglobin, a protein found in red blood cells. 9 Iron deficiency can cause anemia and other symptoms of poor health. A 2014 study published in the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research showed that iron deficiency may cause oral ulcers. 10 How much iron is enough? Men ages 19 to 64 and women ages 50 to 64 need 8.7 mg of iron daily. Women ages 19 to 50 need 14.8 mg. 11 If you’re not getting enough iron in your diet, you may need to take an oral supplement.

6. Reduce Stress

Stress can cause canker sores to flare up, especially in people who are prone to them. A 2009 study showed that psychological stress may be a trigger for canker sores.12 Ways to reduce stress include exercise, meditation, deep breathing, and getting enough sleep.13 Do what you can to alleviate daily stress, and you may have fewer canker sore outbreaks.

7. Mix It Up

When it comes to quick relief, a combination of over-the-counter medications may help ease the pain of canker sores and help them heal more quickly. Some experts recommend a mixture of 50 percent hydrogen peroxide and 50 percent liquid Benadryl as a mouth rinse. Swish the mixture around in the mouth for approximately one minute before spitting out. Take care not to swallow the liquid. Additionally, you can apply a 50/50 solution of hydrogen peroxide directly on the canker sore with a cotton swab several times daily. Follow up by dabbing a small amount of Milk of Magnesia on the sore. Following this regimen should take away some of the pain, allowing the canker sore to heal faster. 14

8. Go SLS-Free

Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) is a cleaning agent found in many toothpaste brands. There is some evidence that SLS can cause or exacerbate canker sores in people prone to them. 15 Try using a toothpaste free of SLS, such as a natural brand.

9. Patch It Up with Licorice Root

Licorice root, a common herbal remedy often used in traditional Chinese medicine, may help heal your canker sore, or at least lessen the discomfort. Scientists at the University of Washington found that an oral licorice root patch alleviated canker sore pain within three days. 16 The patch also caused canker sores to shrink within seven days. Chewable licorice root supplements may also help.

Canker Sores | Probiotic America

10. Snooze Away

There’s a lot of anecdotal evidence that getting plenty of quality sleep can help your canker sore disappear. Sure, it’s nice to slumber so you don’t feel the pain, but since stress may trigger these painful sores, and we know getting rest can help alleviate stress, it makes sense to get your ZZZs on. Many parents tell their children that canker sores are your body’s way of telling you to slow down and rest. Seems to make sense!

Having a canker sore can make it painful to eat, drink, and talk. It may help to remember that, even without treatment, your canker sore will likely go away in one to two weeks. In the meantime, try these remedies for less canker sore pain and a quicker recovery.

For more helpful health news, keep reading:

How to Achieve a Healthy Immune System (all-natural hacks!)

The Dangers of Hidden Sugar in Breakfast Foods (6 ‘healthy’ foods to avoid)

Sources:

1. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/303311.php
2. http://www.aaom.com/index.php%3Foption%3Dcom_content%26view%3Darticle%26id%3D82:canker-sores%26catid%3D22:patient-condition-information%26Itemid%3D120
3. https://publications.usa.gov/epublications/fever-blister/fever-canker.html
4. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/canker-sore/basics/lifestyle-home-remedies/con-20021262
5. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090210092732.htm
6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/870981
7. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/263176.php
8. https://www.ghc.org/kbase/topic.jhtml?docId=zd1065
9. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002422.htm
10.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4003613/
11. http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/vitamins-minerals/Pages/Iron.aspx
12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2710437/
13. https://www.adaa.org/tips-manage-anxiety-and-stress
14. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000998.htm
15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7825393
16. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070322161029.htm

Cheese Can Improve Gut Health! (find out which types to eat)

Cheese lovers, rejoice! Now you can celebrate the taste, andaccording to new studies—also celebrate its health-boosting nutrients. You see, cheese isn’t just good for building strong bones, like we were taught in school as a kid. Certain types of cheese are chock-full of friendly bacteria, or probiotics, which keeps your microbiome happy and healthy. 1

Continue reading “Cheese Can Improve Gut Health! (find out which types to eat)”

How to Achieve a Healthy Immune System (all-natural hacks!)

A healthy immune system is your body’s first line of defense against foreign invaders, including pathogenic bacteria, viruses, and fungi which can cause infections. The immune system works very hard to defend you against those infectious microorganisms. However, sometimes it fails, and those tiny little germs get in – and they make you sick. You suddenly find yourself out of the game for awhile, with nothing but a warm cup of tea and some sudoku to keep you company until you can kick your illness for good.

What if you could give your immune system a leg up? Boost your immune system with these five DIY tips:

healthy immune system | Probiotic America

1. Activated Charcoal Tonic

Incorporating a morning tonic using activated charcoal powder is a great way to remove harmful pathogens from your body. Activated charcoal is commonly used in hospitals as a remedy for food poisoning and other stomach problems because of its unique ability to attract and bind to harmful substances in the body, allowing for fast and easy elimination.

You can find activated charcoal at specialty stores, or online. To use activated charcoal as an immunity tonic, try this recipe:

Mix 16-ounces of fresh or filtered water with 1 tsp. of activated charcoal in a small glass jar. Seal the lid, and give it a good shake until the tonic is fully blended. Then, drink up! Ideally, you will want to take the immunity tonic on an empty stomach first thing in the morning.

For a more advanced protocol, add in 1 tsp. of fossil shell flour and the juice of one large certified organic lemon. Fossil shell flour, also known as diatomaceous earth, is a microscopic material that cleans the walls of your colon, removing any unnecessary mucus or harmful types of bacteria. This anti-parasitic mineral also aids in nutrient absorption while boosting your immune system’s potency.

NOTE: Activated charcoal may interfere with absorption of medications. So check with your doctor before adding activated charcoal to your health regimen.

healthy immune system | Probiotic America

2. Complete Oral Hygiene

Your oral health has a major impact on your immune system. Inflammation in the mouth is a huge burden on the immune system as it works overtime to get rid of it. The mucous membranes of the mouth can usher an infection directly into the blood, allowing it to quickly spread throughout the body.

You already know that daily brushing and flossing are imperative to maintain oral health, but there are other good ways to keep your mouth healthy as well, including:

  • Tongue Scraping. This practice is essential for the removal of bacteria, and various toxins from the tongue’s surface. The tongue absorbs around half of the bacteria in your mouth, and scraping – not brushing – is the only way to remove it.
  • Oil Pulling. This technique is an effective way to remove the bacteria from the rest of the mouth that the tongue scraper does not address. The ancient practice of oil pulling can be used to effectively clean those tiny cracks and crevices of your mouth, unlike any other oral hygiene technique. Coconut oil is particularly effective to use, due to its high content of lauric acid.1 To use oil pulling for oral care, take just one tablespoon of coconut oil, and place it in your mouth. Solid at room temperature, the natural heat of your body will turn the oil to liquid in seconds, so that you can “pull” or swish it through your teeth and gums. Continue the oil pulling for up to 10 minutes, and then spit. Do not swallow the oil, even if it is food grade, as it may contain many bacteria.
  • Baking Soda Mouthwash. Also known as sodium bicarbonate, regular baking soda is clinically shown to be one of the most effective ways to get rid of dental plaque.2 Add it to your oral care regimen as a mouthwash. To make the mixture, just add 1 tsp. of baking soda to ¼ cup of filtered water. For extra freshness and antibacterial activity, you may choose to use 2-3 drops of peppermint essential oil as well. Gargle and swish the mouthwash in your mouth for about 1-2 minutes. The baking soda will remove plaque from along the gumline, while also helping to neutralize the pH balance of your mouth. The peppermint oil will make your breath refreshingly minty, too!

healthy immune system | Probiotic America

3. Sauna Detox with Niacin

Perhaps the most effective way to rid the body of accumulated toxins that can cause infections is by using your body’s largest detoxification organ: the skin. Through sweating, your skin works to remove all of those lingering toxins, and there is no better place to have a sweat session than a sauna. But you can also utilize niacin (vitamin B3) as you sauna, to help encourage toxic release from your fat cells. A well-known metabolic booster, niacin works to release toxins trapped deep within adipose tissue, or fat cells.

So, the goal of coupling the sauna with a boost of niacin is to transfer the toxic components from the fat into the bloodstream, and ultimately remove them via the skin.

Ask your doctor about the right dose of niacin for you. Sauna time can go up to 45 minutes, depending on the temperature and your overall level of health.

healthy immune system | Probiotic America

4. Intermittent Fasting

Eliminating the flow of solids into the body for an extended period of time is an excellent way to give your hard-working digestive system a rest. It may also help boost your immune system. As stagnant metabolic waste in the GI tract is moved through the digestive system with the help of juice from fresh fruits and vegetables, grains, and other nutrients, the intestinal tract begins to free up slow-moving debris. By eliminating waste matter from the body, your intestines begin to improve nutrient delivery to the blood, thus improving immunity.4

healthy immune system | Probiotic America

5. Probiotics

The immune system is one of the most complex of any in the body. And while you probably don’t realize it, an estimated 80 percent of your immune system lies in your gut. In fact, recent studies have revealed that an estimated 100 trillion living microbacteria call your GI tract home. And they too work very hard to kill off any pathogenic species of bacteria, like infectious E. coli, so that you don’t get sick.5,6

For this reason, consuming these probiotic-rich foods may help stave off common illnesses: miso soup, tempeh, kimchi, fermented cabbage (sauerkraut), dark chocolate, kombucha, yogurt, and kefir.

The Takeaway

In order to keep your healthy immune system going strong, you must keep choosing a healthy lifestyle. This includes:

  • Eating a balanced diet with plenty of raw, whole foods
  • Exercising regularly
  • Maintaining balanced cholesterol and blood pressure
  • Getting adequate, restful sleep every night
  • Washing your hands frequently, and maintaining a clean kitchen
  • Drinking alcohol only in moderation
  • Quitting smoking

And of course, don’t forget to add these five DIY immune boosters to your daily health regimen. It could help you stave off all types of common infections that can hold you back from doing the things you love.

Check With Your Doctor

As with any new health regimen, always check with your doctor, and tell them about plans you have for adding these immune boosters to your lifestyle. They will be able to point out if you have interactions with other supplements, or medications you are taking, and recommend an ideal dosage, or duration for these changes in your health regimen.

Want more health tips? Keep reading here:

12 Probiotic Foods to Help You Feel Great

Sources

1. Faizal C. Peedikayil, Prathima Sreenivasan. Effect of coconut oil in plaque related gingivitis — A preliminary report. Niger Med J. 2015 Mar-Apr; 56(2): 143–147.

2. Putt MS, Milleman KR. Enhancement of plaque removal efficacy by tooth brushing with baking soda dentifrices: results of five clinical studies. J Clin Dent. 2008;19(4):111-9.

3. Jason Allen, ND, MPH, Melissa Montalto, MS. Detoxification in Naturopathic Medicine: A Survey. J Altern Complement Med. 2011 Dec; 17(12): 1175–1180.

4. Valter D. Longo, Mark P. Mattson. Fasting: Molecular Mechanisms and Clinical Applications. Cell Metab. 2014 Feb 4; 19(2): 181–192.

5. Michael H. Hsieh, M.D., Ph.D, James Versalovic, M.D., Ph.D.2. THE HUMAN MICROBIOME AND PROBIOTICS: IMPLICATIONS FOR PEDIATRICS. Curr Probl Pediatr Adolesc Health Care. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2010 Jun 28.

6. Hsin-Jung Wu, Eric Wu. The role of gut microbiota in immune homeostasis and autoimmunity. Gut Microbes. 2012 Jan 1; 3(1): 4–14.

NEWS: Probiotics May Provide Help with Allergies

By now, everyone knows that probiotics, whether you get them from food or a supplement, drastically help to improve the gut health and overall digestive systems in our bodies. But did you know that they could also help allergy sufferers? It’s true. A study says that a certain combination of probiotics could help ease the symptoms of hay fever if it’s taken during allergy season.

The probiotic combination providing this relief includes lactobacilli and bifidobacteria. Researchers believe the reason this specific combo might work so well for allergy sufferers is because it increases the body’s percentage of regulatory T-cells. T-cells are a specific types of white blood cells, or lymphocytes, that work in the body to recognize invaders like bacteria, viruses or parasites and then produce effective weapons against them. Some T-cells kill virus cells directly. These white blood cells work 24-hours a day to keep us healthy.

“Not all probiotics work for allergies. This one did,” said Jennifer Dennis, the study’s first author and a doctoral student in the UF Food Science and Human Nutrition department in UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

Researchers at the University of Florida put this theory to the test when, at the peak of allergy season, they gathered 173 allergy sufferers. They split them into two groups, giving one group the probiotic combination and a placebo to the second. The experiment went for eight weeks, and each week, as a check-in process, the study participants completed an online survey to describe the level of discomfort they were feeling. DNA from the participants’ stool samples were also analyzed to chart how their bacteria changed. Because probiotics send good bacteria to the body’s intestines, the DNA samples also served as confirmation that the participants were actually taking the probiotic.

Those who received the probiotic combo said they felt better overall. They also had less allergy-related nose discomfort and felt better while doing day-to-day activities, compared to those who were just given the placebo, according to the study.

While this is a big find for probiotic fans and people plagued with allergies, it’s important to note that no one in the study was considered an extreme or severe allergy sufferer. So don’t toss your favorite hay fever symptom remedy in the trash just yet. Using probiotics to treat hay fever symptoms probably would work best for those who suffer from mild allergies.

Want more useful health tips? Keep reading:

5 Simple Ways to Restore Gut Health After Antibiotics
Got Stomach Pain? Maybe Your Diet is to Blame

 

12 Probiotic Foods to Help You Feel Great

Did you know your gut is brimming with bacteria? But it’s not all bad!

With all that bacteria in you digestive system, it must come as no surprise that some are good, and some are … less than desirable. When most of your gut bacteria are the good kind, you know it. Because you can feel it.

In fact, the good bacteria in your gut help you –

  • Process food properly
  • Keep your skin healthy and glowing
  • Eliminate yeast and fungal infections
  • Maintain a healthy weight or lose weight
  • Oust certain pathogens that cause illness 1

So, you need bacteria – the good kind – to keep your system up and running. And probiotics help you do just that! They give your immune system backup, so you can keep health issues at bay.

But when bad bacteria take over, it can get really hard to keep things running smoothly. Oftentimes, that’s when you start to pack on the pounds or crave sugar. And it’s a slippery slope, too, because more sugar leads to more fatigue, rashes, and colds, et cetera.

It’s no joke. When bad bacteria set up camp in your gut, you’ve got to take care of it. For many people, that means balancing your gut microbiome with probiotic foods.

What are probiotics?

Probiotics are ‘live microorganisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.”2 So, essentially, probiotics are living bacteria lining your digestive tract that can help your overall health.

It’s weird, because people normally associate bacteria with sickness – but probiotics replenish the good bacteria that keep you strong.

That’s one reason why they’ve become a profound way to support your immune system – as well as your overall physical, mental, and even emotional health. Lots of people choose to “reseed” their guts with probiotic supplements – and that’s a great way to get probiotics into your system. But, you can do even more to improve your health by adding probiotic foods – aka certain fermented foods – to your daily diet.

You see, before we had refrigerators, people fermented certain foods to preserve substantial amounts of it. They’d use lactic acid, alcohol, or alkaline fermentation to get rid of antinutrients or even reduce cooking time in an effort to hold onto their fuel supplies. And lots of those traditional foods they came up with have stayed popular – they’re an amazing natural source of probiotics.

Turns out, a just a dollop of some of these fermented foods can fill your gut with lots of good bacteria. The better your intestinal health, the better your general health. So, work these probiotic treats into your routine to boost your intestinal health.

10 foods that pack a healthy probiotic punch

Probiotic Foods | probiotic america
1. Yogurt

Yogurt’s a creamy, delicious treat made from fermented dairy. Not only is it a great source of protein, it’s also got magnesium, potassium, vitamin D, calcium, and certain beneficial enzymes. Made from goat’s milk, sheep’s milk, or cow’s milk, yogurt is one of the most popular fermented dairy products in the U.S.

When buying yogurt, make sure you see the words “live and active cultures” on the label – this way, you know for sure it’s probiotic. It’s yummy when added to smoothies, topped with nuts or fruit, or even used in chilis and soups.

Probiotic Foods | probiotic america

2. Homemade pickles

Now, not all pickles are probiotic. In fact, most store-bought pickles aren’t – they’re fermented in vinegar. Turns out, if they’re pasteurized, it’s likely the probiotic bacteria have been destroyed. So make sure you grab grandma’s pickles – or try making your own.

Pickling cucumbers is an awesome way to enjoy serious servings of vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B5, manganese, magnesium, and potassium. And, they’re full of healthy polyphenols like lignans and other phytonutrients that boost cell development. Salt, water, and a few days in a jar are all you need to turn a cucumber into a crunchy, tasty, probiotic-rich pickle.

Probiotic Foods | probiotic america

3. Kombucha

Kombucha is a traditional, beneficial Chinese cocktail made by fermenting sweetened black tea. Once mixed with sugar, the colony of bacteria and yeast in kombucha become responsible for initiating fermentation. After fermentation, kombucha becomes carbonated. This healthy beverage is chock full of probiotics, b-vitamins, enzymes, and high concentrations of lactic acid – known for its ability to stimulate the immune system and its antioxidant properties.3

You can find kombucha in the refrigerated section of your local market or even order a home-brew kombucha kit online and brew it yourself.

Probiotic Foods | probiotic america

4. Kefir

Now, many people assume kefir and yogurt are the same things, but it’s simply not true. While they’re both cultured dairy products, kefir not only consists of probiotic bacteria, but it’s got about 10g of protein … per cup!

Another cool thing about kefir … it actually colonizes the intestinal tract. That’s because it consists of several strains of good bacteria, like Lactobacillus caucasus, Leuconostoc, Acetobacter species, and Streptococcus.

It’s also full of beneficial yeasts which help destroy dangerous, disease-causing, pathogenic yeasts by penetrating the mucosal lining where the unhealthy yeasts wreak havoc. The beneficial yeasts then strengthen these areas of the intestines.
Have a cup of kefir as an on-the-go breakfast, or add it to your cereal instead of milk. Look for kefir in the dairy or natural-foods section of your grocery store; it’s available in plain and fruit flavors.

Probiotic Foods | probiotic america

5. Natto

Natto is a favorite Japanese dish – an odorous, fermented soybean often served for breakfast. Bacillus subtilis – a powerful probiotic – is what’s used to ferment the breakfast staple. And while the bean packs a probiotic punch, it also serves up a healthy dose of vitamin K – known to help your bones absorb calcium and even help heart health.4 It’s an odd dish for some due to its odor and gooey texture, but it’s certainly worth trying if probiotics are a priority.

Probiotic Foods | probiotic america

6. Ginger beer

Cheers! This next fizzy fermentation hails all the way from England and has been around for the last few centuries. Enjoyed all over the world, its taste is refreshing and it’s primary ingredient – ginger – has been known to help relieve nausea and fight inflammation.5

Ginger beer is a tasty, good-for-you summer treat that can be found in most grocery stores.

Probiotic Foods | probiotic america

7. Kimchi

This Korean low-fiber, high-fat, fermented cabbage condiment gets its heat from salt, chili peppers, vinegar, and garlic. The reddish fermented cabbage can be eaten alone or tossed into rice or noodles. Plus, kimchi is loaded with vitamins C, A, and B. But its biggest benefit is, of course, lactobacilli. This good bacteria aids digestion and may also help prevent yeast infections.6

Probiotic Foods | probiotic america

8. Sauerkraut

A probiotic powerhouse, this favorite hot dog topper can actually help counter indigestion. Like kimchi, sauerkraut is fermented, shredded cabbage. When picking out your kraut, try to stay away from the pasteurized variety – instead, opt for raw, refrigerated varieties which are sure to give you the probiotic benefits you’re looking for.

Probiotic Foods | probiotic america

9. Tempeh

Like Natto, tempeh is also made from fermented soybeans, but it’s more like tofu in odor and texture, and its taste is more earthy than sour. An Indonesian favorite, tempeh comes as a firm, white cake and provides much-needed protein for vegans and vegetarians.

And because of the way tempeh is fermented, the whole bean is retained, allowing tempeh to hold onto its high protein content. It’s also a great source of dietary fiber and vitamins.

Probiotic Foods | probiotic america

10. Buttermilk

There are two main types of buttermilk: traditional and cultured.

After reading this far, you may be able to guess which one contains probiotics and which one does not. Traditional buttermilk is what’s left after making butter (hence the name) and contains probiotics. Cultured buttermilk, which can be found in most American supermarkets, does not contain probiotics.

Traditional buttermilk isn’t easily found in the U.S., so if you’re interested in incorporating it into your probiotic foods arsenal, you’ll probably end up learning how to make it yourself.

Probiotic Foods | probiotic america

11. Cheeses

When it comes to probiotics, not all cheese is created equal. Many of them are fermented, but that doesn’t mean those cheeses also contain probiotics.

If cheese is one of the probiotic foods you’d like to include in your diet, Cheddar and Gouda are two reliable choices.8 Probiotic cheeses contain a number of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria strains. Cheddar cheese also contains two Lb. paracasei strains, which can survive the digestive process due to the cheese’s low acidity and fat content.

Probiotic Foods | probiotic america

12. Miso

Miso is a traditional Japanese savory seasoning – a thick paste with a salty and tangy flavor. You can usually find it added to soups or as a poultry rub, fish rub, glaze, or sauce thickener.

Also produced by fermenting soybeans, this probiotic favorite differs from those mentioned above because of the presence of koji-kin – a mold grown on a steamed rice (koji) – cultivated and then incubated for about 45 hours.

You can usually find it in the refrigerated section of your local market. It’s so delicious. To get you started on a new probiotic recipe collection, we’ve added a super-simple, tasty miso soup recipe below!

Probiotic Miso Soup (4 servings)

What you need –

  • 1/3 cup miso
  • 4 cups water
  • 5 thinly sliced green onions
  • 1 tbsp nori seaweed
  • 4 oz silken tofu
What to do –

Start by sautéing the seaweed and green onions for approximately 6 minutes. Add water and stir for 30 seconds. Then add the miso and the tofu, and simmer on a low heat for 3 minutes. Do not let the soup reach a boil. Serve and enjoy!

The Takeaway

And there you have it. These probiotic foods will really help you to keep your gastrointestinal health in check and might even help you boost your immune system. Remember, the foods listed above are all natural sources of probiotics and when used regularly, they can help you improve your well-being.

Sources
1 NCCIH. (n.d.). Probiotics: In Depth. [online] [Accessed 20 Jul. 2017].
2 Mack, D. (2005). Probiotics. [online] [Accessed 20 Jul. 2017].
3 Nguyen, N., Dong, N., Nguyen, H. and Le, P. (2015). Lactic acid bacteria: promising supplements for enhancing the biological activities of kombucha. SpringerPlus, 4(1).
4 Schiffman, R. (2016). Are You Ready to Eat Your Natto?. [online] Well. Available at: https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/08/02/are-you-ready-to-eat-your-natto/?_r=1 [Accessed 20 Jul. 2017].
5 Bode, A. and Dong, Z. (n.d.). The Amazing and Mighty Ginger. [online] Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.[Accessed 20 Jul. 2017].
6 Park, K., Jeong, J., Lee, Y. and Daily, J. (2014). Health Benefits of Kimchi (Korean Fermented Vegetables) as a Probiotic Food. Journal of Medicinal Food, 17(1), pp.6-20.
7 Selhub, E., Logan, A. and Bested, A. (2014). Fermented foods, microbiota, and mental health: ancient practice meets nutritional psychiatry. Journal of Physiological Anthropology, 33(1), p.2.
8 Stanton, C., Gardiner, G., Lynch, P., Collins, J., Fitzgerald, G. and Ross, R. (1998). Probiotic Cheese. International Dairy Journal, 8(5-6), pp.491-496.

Can Probiotics Improve Symptoms of Autism? (what you need to know)

There is some research that suggests harmful microbes in the gut, or digestive system, can worsen some of the behavior issues associated with autism. There are also medical professionals who believe an unhealthy gut microbiome (the collection of microorganisms that make up the gastrointestinal tract) could contribute to the development of autism. Probiotics, or beneficial microbes, could play a role in helping reduce some of these issues.

Continue reading “Can Probiotics Improve Symptoms of Autism? (what you need to know)”

Watermelon Tea Recipe – The Ultimate Healthy Summer Drink

Want to know my number one favorite part of summer? It’s going to the beach in August… hands down.

I like everything about the beach… the warm sand, the gently crashing waves, the salty air…

But most of all, I love the food!

Growing up, going to the beach meant days and days of amazingly fresh, delicious food.

First, we’d get together for a big barbecue one night… then a couple of days later, we’d buy a bunch of fresh tilapia fillets and grill out, watching as the sun set over the water.

Oh boy, it was heaven… And just thinking back on it now makes me hungry!

Even now, when I’m heading to the beach I like to load up the cooler with good things to eat… Things like homemade sandwiches, ice-cold bottled water, and fresh cut fruit.

But there’s one thing I don’t ever bring… I’m talking about soft drinks.

I know it’s tempting to load the cooler with soft drinks — they’re cheap, convenient, and kids LOVE them.

But soft drinks are absolutely packed with addictive sugar. And even if you’re on vacation, all that sugar’s just as bad for you as ever.

Now, skipping the soda doesn’t mean you’re stuck with just drinking water. If you want to sip something refreshing AND sweet, I’ve got just the thing!

Dr. Nelson’s Watermelon Tea Refresher

This is one of my favorite finds… and it’s totally delicious!

This drink is naturally sweetened, refreshing, and perfect for summer — with no unhealthy added sugar or artificial sweeteners in sight.

Here’s all you need to make it yourself –– and if you want to make a full pitcher, just triple the recipe:

Ingredients (serves 2):

  • 1 cup green tea, brewed and cooled.
  • 1 cup diced watermelon, seeds removed
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 sprig fresh mint
  • 1 cup club soda

Instructions:
1. Add watermelon and tea to a blender, and blend until smooth.
2. Add lime and mint and pulse in blender, until mint is chopped.
3. Add club soda and taste — adjust sweetness as suggested above, then enjoy!

Note: If the Refresher isn’t quite sweet enough for you, try adding a teaspoon of honey (which has some big health benefits of its own) or a splash of 100% apple juice to the mix.

Just make sure to taste it BEFORE adding anything sweet… after all, a ripe watermelon is pretty sweet on its own!

Summer Drink | Probiotic america

So there you go. Pretty simple, right?

I’m really loving this drink… In fact, I’ve started calling it my “Official Drink of Summer!”

And I think you’ll like it, too. So try it out and …

Cheers!

Dr. Cary Nelson 

P.S. If you’re having a cocktail party, I’ve heard my Refresher is amazing when mixed with a touch of vodka or white wine. I haven’t tried it that way myself, but I’ve heard some rave reviews. If you do try it out, remember to always drink responsibly!

For more health tips and delicious recipes, keep reading:

5 Simple Ways to Restore Gut Health After Antibiotics

Got Stomach Pain? Maybe Your Diet is to Blame