Eating fermented and probiotic-rich foods with each meal is the optimal way to nurture your microbiome health. We’ve come up with a few creative suggestions for easily increasing your intake of probiotic-rich foods. We call it the Probiotic Lifestyle, and it simply means eating probiotic-rich foods with each and every meal.
You can’t eat what you don’t have stocked in your fridge. Help create new good habits by putting the pieces in place to make life easy. We suggest diversifying choices to keep things interesting. Dairy items like different kefir flavors and yogurts, drinks such as kombucha, kvass and probiotic-fortified healthy juices, and of course a well stocked variety of fermented vegetables like pickles, sauerkraut and kimchi will set you up for success as you embark on this lifestyle change. Although this article focuses on fermented vegetables, all types of probiotic-rich foods and drinks are recommended for increasing the quality of gut health.
The tangy, strong, sour flavors of fermented vegetables can take some getting used to in the morning, but there is no better way to begin your day. Substitute hot sauce with a hot and spicy fermented sauerkraut or kimchi, next to or on top of eggs. If the heat is too much, regular fermented sauerkraut is also a nice, salty compliment to any egg dish. Add a soft corn tortilla and some avocado to make a simple juevos ranchero “el fermente” style. Remember to reduce salt seasoning when adding fermented vegetables into your breakfast mix.
Simply garnishing your plate with a pickle is certainly an easy way to achieve a probiotic-rich midday meal, but getting more creative helps sustain good lifelong habits. Chop up pickles to fortify your egg, potato, chicken or tuna salad with a flavor packed, probiotic-rich infusion. Any vegetarian, cheese or nitrate-free lunch-meat sandwich tastes better with fermented sauerkraut or sliced pickles as a condiment. For salads, use probiotic brine in your homemade dressing (2 parts liquid brine, 1 part extra virgin olive oil) to make a great tasting, superfood salad dressing). Probiotic brine can be used to flavor anything—not only does it replace the need for table salt, it also contributes a delicious and strong fermented flavor component to your dish without adding calories. Brush grilled vegetables lightly with butter and salty probiotic brine to change their flavor dynamic and boost your good bacteria intake.
Many cultures that eat fermented foods with each meal as a lifestyle also eat lighter dinner fare than we do here in the West. Once or twice a week, change up your hot dinner menu with a Mediterranean-inspired meal: hard-boil eggs and put out high quality cheese for protein and fat. Toast healthy, grain-rich, sprouted bread and season olive oil with sea salt for dipping. A variety of simple raw vegetables like tomato slices, avocado chunks and slivered onions, drizzled with olive oil are simple and delicious. Add to the table small bowls of fermented vegetables, pickles and sauerkraut. Complete the offering with hummus, garnished with chickpeas, paprika and olive oil. Place the food in the middle of the table and enjoy family-style. The abundance of healthy fat will satisfy your appetite and the fermented foods with their strong flavors will satisfy your taste buds. Adapting to this low-maintenance, healthy dinner style is easy, quick and appeals to both kids and adults.
Sometimes don’t we all want to open the fridge and just munch? Try going for something fermented as your first option. The flavors are intense so they satisfy your taste buds. Got late night salt cravings? Skip the chips and eat a pickle. It’ll take care of the craving and net you exactly zero calories. (It’s also difficult to overeat fermented vegetables versus crunchy, processed, salty foods like chips and microwave popcorn).
Take a swig of probiotic pickle brine after your workout or after spending time outside on a hot summer day. The brine will replace electrolytes in your system, speeding your body’s recovery. It’s also an extra probiotic boost for your gut. Gulping down probiotic brine is another easy and fast way to get an abundance of good bacteria delivered to your microbiome with no planning and no time spent.
Did you know that pickles = happiness? It’s true! Read all about it in The Gut and Brain Connection: How Microbiome Health Effects Your Emotions.