The 8 Best Foods for Your Gut | Rodale News

The 8 Best Foods for Your Gut

Your immune system will sing when you work these digestive wonder foods onto the menu.

best foods for your gut

Your gut is like a forest, full of diverse life that—if kept in check—helps your whole natural system flourish. The problem is, food isn’t as simple as it used to be, and modern cuisine, even modern medicine like antibiotics, can do a real number on the biodiversity in your digestive tract—your beneficial bacteria. In fact, too many meds and eating too much sugar and processed foods can actually suppress this protective gastrointestinal army, so it’s important to bring balance and stability back to your gut for optimal health to avoid diarrhea and diseases. In fact, many of these probiotic-rich foods will actually help you glow on the outside, too. Studies have found probiotics help combat skin problems.

For better gut health, these 8 foods will help!

#1: Kefir
The Benefit: Kind of like a drinkable yogurt, kefir is a fermented dairy product that contains oligosaccharides, complex carbs, that feed beneficial bacteria. And keeping those tiny microorganisms content will help supercharge your immune system.

Healthy Tip: Keep your kefir cold—the live and active cultures are sensitive to heat—and be sure to avoid kefir with sky-high sugar content. Too much sugar damages your healthy intestinal flora.

Try This: Lifeway Organic Whole Milk Kefir, Plain

#2: Greek Yogurt
The Benefit: Like kefir, Greek yogurt also serves as a potent dairy-based probiotic, and also boasts 15 to 20 grams of protein per 6-ounce serving and amino acids that will jump-start your metabolism.

Healthy Tip: Some companies market “Greek style” yogurt products that are nothing more than regular yogurt containing additives like gelatin and milk solids to thicken the consistency. For true Greek yogurt, check the ingredients list. It should only read: Milk and cultures.

Try This: Stonyfield Organic Greek

#3: Real Sauerkraut
The Benefit: Sauerkraut is really fermented cabbage, a preservation technique that far precedes modern-day refrigeration.

Healthy Tip: For true probiotic muscle, avoid canned sauerkraut, because it’s pasteurized, meaning the healthy bacteria is mostly killed off. Instead, make your own homemade sauerkraut in a crock.

Try This: Real Pickles Organic Sauerkraut

#4: Kimchi
The Benefit: A standby for centuries in Korean culture, this spicy fermented cabbage dish acts like a tonic for your gastrointestinal tract. A 2005 Seoul National University study found it’s so beneficial to the immune system that it helped speed recovery in chickens stricken with the virulent avian flu.

Healthy Tip: Add kimchi to organic mashed potatoes, rice, or salads if the distinctly sour, fizzy fare isn’t appetizing to you on its own.

Try This: ozuké’s Kim Chi

#5: Artichokes
The Benefit: Artichokes are potent prebiotics, meaning they contain undigestible nutrients that help feed the beneficial bacteria growth within your digestive system. Think of them like a healthy meal for the helpful bacteria in your gut.

Healthy Tip: If artichokes don’t delight your taste buds, try other potent prebiotics like bananas, lentils, and asparagus.

Try This: Grow your own!

#6: Kombucha
The Benefit: With its naturally fizzy profile, this fermented tea serves as a healthy replacement for carbonated drinks like soda. Mildly tart and effervescent, kombucha is teeming with beneficial bacteria to coat your digestive tract. The fermentation process also creates healthy B vitamins that can activate energy.

Healthy Tip: This ancient, nourishing tonic has boosted immune systems for centuries; however, if you have certain digestive-tract diseases or candida, kombucha may aggravate symptoms because it’s considered a wild ferment and could contain irritating yeasts for susceptible individuals.

Try This: GT’s Organic Raw Kombucha, Original

#7: Miso Soup
The Benefit: While there’s debate surrounding the health benefits of soy, the truth is fermented soybeans contain an abundance of beneficial bacteria and isoflavones, which can protect against cancer and possibly halt the production of fat cells.

Healthy Tip: Look for organic miso soup to avoid harmful additives and genetically engineered soy, which has never been tested for long-term impact on human health.

Try This: Eden Foods Hacho Miso

#8: Dark Chocolate 
The Benefit: This is not too good to be true! Louisiana State University researchers recently discovered that certain bacteria in the stomach gobble down the chocolate and ferment it into anti-inflammatory compounds that are good for the heart!

The good microbes, such as Bifidobacterium and lactic acid bacteria, feast on chocolate, explains study author Maria Moore, and undergraduate and research at the university. “When these compounds are absorbed by the body, they lessen the inflammation of cardiovascular tissue, reducing the long-term risk of stroke,” said John Finley, PhD, who led the work. He said that this study is the first to look at the effects of dark chocolate on the various types of bacteria in the stomach.

Healthy Tip: Look for chocolate with at least 70 percent cacao and eat it regularly to help build up levels of cocoa’s polyphenols, which help regulate your stress hormones, explains Will Clower, PhD, neurophysiologist, neuroscientist, nutritionist, and author of the new book Eat Chocolate, Lose Weight. Clower says the higher the cocoa, the lower the sugar. Translation? He recommends an adult can enjoy a full ounce of chocolate during the day if it’s 70 percent cocoa; 1¼ ounces if it’s 85 percent cocoa.


Homemade froyo…

In a few weeks my husband I will have been married 2 years. That’s a reminder to me that I have now had an untouched Cuisinart ice cream maker collecting dust for two years. I’m always tempted to pull it out but fear gluttonous homemade ice cream always in the freezer. Here are some tricks to lower fat, healthier froyo curtesy of the Bay Area Bites blog that I plan on putting to use soon – once I get the ingredients.

Frozen yogurt is going through a bit of a makeover. Soft serve that tastes like ice cream is out while creamy swirls that burst with the flavor of real yogurt are in. Shops serving cups of froyo that burst with yogurt’s innate natural tartness are opening everywhere. Forget my favorite college flavor of orange, which tasted more like creamy ice cream that had been melded with baby aspirin. Today’s frozen yogurt highlights sweet fruit flavors and is enticingly tangy.

After a few trips to some yogurt shops where four servings cost around $20 — because let’s face it, the new frozen yogurt chains are more expensive than the old ones — I decided to try making my own concoctions. I found that if you have an ice-cream maker (the kind where you pre-freeze the canister), frozen yogurt is remarkably easy to make. It’s also nice to be able to control your own ingredients. You can choose to use organic and nonfat yogurt, or luxuriate in a treat made with creamy whole milk. You can also opt to sweeten your dessert with sugar, or go for a healthier alternative like fruit juice or honey — it’s all up to you. Continue reading

Dannon Cuts Sugar, Carefully, in Children’s Yogurt –

The Trek to a Yogurt Less Sweet

Dannon Cuts Sugar, Carefully, in Children’s Yogurt -

Joshua Bright for The New York Times

Thierry Saint-Denis, the director of research and development at Dannon, managed to reduce sugar by 25 percent in in Danimals Smoothies.


 Dannon yogurt had a secret it didn’t want you to know. Until recently.

Its Danimals Smoothies, a line of yogurt drinks in Technicolor packaging for the pint-size set, have gotten a little bit healthier. Since February, Dannon has been selling the smoothies with 25 percent less sugar. And hardly anyone seems to have noticed — just as Dannon had hoped.

Deciding not to trumpet a healthier-for-you move might be puzzling at first, until you consider this: “One thing I have learned is that the main driver of yogurt sales above all is taste,” said Sergio Fuster, senior vice president for marketing at Dannon. “You do not want to send any signal to the consumer that might lead her to believe the taste has changed because she will simply pick up another yogurt — and it may not be ours.”

The margin for error in the realm of taste is small. A mistake could be financially deadly.

Yogurt sales are among the fastest-growing of all food products as a wave of new brands challenges the shelf space allotted to more traditional ones like Dannon, Yoplait and Stonyfield. And Chobani, which is posting sales of more than $1 billion less than 10 years after it was founded, and the other upstarts are aggressively promoting their products for children.

Dannon clearly regards its decision to make such a big reduction in the product’s sugar content — to 10 grams, from 14 — as a way to get ahead in the game. The only indication is in the fine print on the nutrition label, which shows its sugar content is slightly lower than for similar products by its competitors.

“Kids are not into nutrition profiles, but moms are,” Mr. Fuster said. “We want to shift the discussion away from the quantity of calories, although they are impacted with this change, to talking about the quality of the calories in yogurt, like how much protein it delivers.”

Kathleen M. Zelman, a registered dietitian who is director of nutrition for WebMD, took a look at the nutrition labels for the product before and after sugar was cut and said it was a step in the right direction, though she wished it delivered more protein.

“There’s no nutritional payback from sugar, so any time you can cut it and still enjoy nutritional goodness like that found in yogurt, I’m thrilled,” Ms. Zelman said. “There’s a lot of pressure on sugar these days because of the obesity trends, not that I’m saying it’s the culprit, but we eat too many calories in general and it’s easy to overconsume sugar calories.”

Dannon has reduced sugar in a handful of products before, but never by more than 5 to 10 percent. Reductions of that size merely require subtracting sweetener in small amounts.

But when the company was looking for ways to underscore its commitment to enhancing the healthiness of its products, it decided it needed to do something more dramatic. “We set a target of 25 percent, even though a lot of people said that was too much,” said Thierry Saint-Denis, director of research and development at Dannon.

Reducing sugar by 5 percent is relatively simple, Mr. Saint-Denis said, because milk and other components in yogurt can mask the missing sweetness. Such a change has little impact on yogurt’s viscosity and other characteristics.

But eliminating one-quarter of the sweeteners has much bigger consequences, wreaking havoc not only on taste but on texture, acidity and other aspects. “We decided to do it because it would force us to do something we had never done if we were to meet that target,” Mr. Saint-Denis said.

To explain the complex science of ingredient mix, Mr. Saint-Denis did a little demonstration at the company’s American headquarters in White Plains, involving cups of two different unsweetened yogurts and big syringes filled with liquid sweetener. At the start, one yogurt was tart and acidic, the other more bland — and it quickly became clear that it would take markedly less sugar syrup to arrive at a sweet taste with the bland flavor than with the tart and acidic one. So one crucial factor to less sugar is lower acidity.

via Dannon Cuts Sugar, Carefully, in Children’s Yogurt –

The 5 Best Foods to Eat After Taking Antibiotics ||

After taking antibiotics, it is important to restore the ‘good bacteria’ in your intestines. If you prefer to do that naturally through diet rather than resorting to supplements, you’ll be happy to learn that there are plenty of foods that can help restore your intestinal flora. The rest of this article provides a detailed list of some of the best foods to eat after taking antibiotics.

The 5 Best Foods to Eat After Taking Antibiotics

1. Yoghurt

Yoghurt, or yogurt, is probably the most famous probiotic food, and it certainly is one the best foods to eat after taking antibiotics. Milk is transformed into yogurt through a fermentation process that uses live probiotic bacteria such as Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. In addition, other lactobacilli as well as bifidobacteria are also sometimes added during or after the culturing process.

Not all yogurts contain probiotic bacteria.

Normally, the probiotic cultures used to make yogurt remain live and active in the final product. However, pasteurization and some other processes designed to prolong yogurt’s shelf life may kill off the health promoting probiotic bacteria. In the US, the National Yogurt Association (NYA) has developed a Live & Active Cultures seal to help consumers identify yogurts that contain significant amounts of live and active probiotic bacteria. The seal is voluntary and available to all manufacturers of refrigerated and frozen yogurt whose products contain at least 100 million (108) cultures per gram at the time of manufacture.

If you live in the US and are planning to eat yogurt to restore your intestinal flora after taking antibiotics, it is best to choose products with the Live & Active Cultures seal. Without the seal, there is no unbiased validation of the amount of live cultures present in the yogurt.

2. Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut is finely cut cabbage that has been fermented in its own juice by various lactic acid bacteria. According to a study published in the December 2007 issue of Applies and Environmental Microbiology, raw sauerkraut can contain more than 13 different species of probiotic bacteria. Each batch of sauerkraut you eat may contain different proportions of different strains of gut-friendly bacteria, which in turn can help you diversify your intestinal flora.

However, not all sauerkraut is equal when it comes to restoring good bacteria after taking antibiotics. In many cases, commercial canned and jarred sauerkraut have been heat-treated and pasteurized, destroying the beneficial bacteria. Fortunately, some health food stores are bringing back this extraordinary health-promoting food. But before you buy a batch of sauerkraut with the intention of eating it as part of your post-antibiotic diet, make sure that it is labeled ‘raw’ or ‘unpasteurized’. Or, consider making gut-friendly sauerkraut at home — it is a simple and inexpensive way to get to enjoy one of the best foods you can eat after taking antibiotics

The 5 Best Foods to Eat After Taking Antibiotics

3. Garlic

Garlic contains prebiotics which help probiotic bacteria grow.

Garlic, another good food to eat after a course of antibiotics, is a great source of prebiotics. Prebiotics are non-digestible carbohydrates that help probiotic bacteria grow and flourish in the digestive system. You can think of prebiotics as “food” for probiotics.

Recommendations as to the ideal amount of prebiotics in the diet vary substantially, but in most cases, the recommendations range from 4 to 8 grams (0.14—0.28 oz) for supporting general digestive health, to 15 grams (0.53 oz) or more for those with digestive disorders. A serving of three large garlic cloves provides about 2 grams of prebiotics.

Tip: To make a super healthy Greek-style dip that contains both probiotic bacteria and prebiotic carbohydrates that feed these ‘friendly’ bacteria, mix probiotic yogurt with minced raw garlic. Add finely chopped cucumber if you like.

4. Jerusalem Artichokes

Unlike garlic, Jerusalem artichokes – also known as sunchokes – are not a particularly famous food. Nevertheless, these earthy tubers are packed full of nutritional benefits. In addition to providing plenty of B vitamins and immune-boosting vitamin C, Jerusalem artichokes are loaded with inulin, a prebiotic fiber that has been shown to stimulate the growth of bifidobacteria.

Jerusalem artichokes can be eaten raw or cooked, and they make a great gut health promoting addition to soups and salads alike.

5. Almonds

In an in vitro study funded by the Almond Board of California, a group of scientists found that finely ground almonds significantly increased the levels of certain beneficial gut bacteria. The almond preparation was found to lose its prebiotic effect its fat content was removed, suggesting that the probiotic bacteria only use the lipids in almonds for growth.

Almonds provide prebiotics and fight off new infections.

But there’s also another reason why almonds make it to this list of the best foods to eat after antibiotics: A 2010 study found that almonds can help fight off viral infections such as the common cold and flu. After taking antibiotics, you are more prone to new infections as a result of a weakened immune system.

The researchers responsible for this almond study found that naturally occurring chemicals found in almond skins improved the ability of the white blood cells to detect viruses and to boost the body’s ability to prevent viruses from replicating. Even after the almonds had been digested in the gu

via The 5 Best Foods to Eat After Taking Antibiotics.

Women’s Health: The Truth About Greek Yogurt | Women’s Health Food Blog: Get easy recipes, healthy food swaps, and cooking products

nutritional superiority has helped elevate the dairy dish to superfood status in the U.S., with sales more than doubling over the past five years, according to Euromonitor International.

But because there are no government regulations for slapping “Greek” on a food label, the descriptor is popping up throughout the dairy aisle and beyond, masking products that aren’t so healthy, after all.  To help separate the Greek from the, well, not-so-Greek, learn how to strain out imposters.

Greek Yogurt vs. Regular Yogurt

So what makes Greek yogurt so special? “The difference between Greek yogurt and regular yogurt is that they strain off the whey, [the watery part of milk that remains when milk is curdled] which makes it really thick and creamy,” says Karen Roth, clinical nutritionist and founder of Karen Roth Nutrition in Los Angeles. “And because they’re removing the whey, there’s less sugar, fewer carbohydrates, and a lot more protein compared to regular yogurt.”

In fact, a typical 6-ounce serving of Greek yogurt packs as much protein as 3 ounces of lean meat, making it a superstar snack for a healthy bod. Protein not only helps build lean muscle and keeps you full, but a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that a diet high in lean protein may be superior to a high-fat or high-carb diet when it comes to warding off weight gain and heart disease.

But since use of the term “Greek” is unregulated, and because the straining process can require costly equipment, some yogurt brands are pumping out “Greek” yogurts that haven’t been made the traditional way. Instead, thickening agents like corn starch and milk-protein concentrate are added to mimic the rich texture of strained yogurt. The jury’s still out as to whether these additives make for a nutritionally inferior product, but they certainly detract from the simplicity of traditional strained yogurt. Regardless, there are ways to determine whether products marked “Greek” are genuinely Greek:

1. Read the ingredients. “The best thing for people to do when shopping for Greek yogurt is to look at the product’s ingredients list,” says Roth. “It should contain only milk and live active cultures.”

2. Steer clear of the shelf. Yogurt companies aren’t the only imposters trying to steal the superfood’s spotlight. Other food producers have jumped on the Greek bandwagon by unveiling packaged foods like cereal and granola bars claiming to contain Greek yogurt. But Roth warns that these types of snacks may just be junk foods in disguise. “They don’t have the same health properties as real yogurt,” she says. “They often have a lot of added sugar, and if they’re sitting on a shelf, they’re not going to have the live cultures in them, so they’re really just a sweet treat masquerading as a health food.”

3. Don’t count on live active cultures. If you want to ensure your yogurt is packed with probiotics—which have been shown to promote digestive health, boost immunity, and even prevent yeast infections—Roth says to make sure the label says contains live active cultures, rather than made with live active cultures.

via Women’s Health: The Truth About Greek Yogurt | Women’s Health Food Blog: Get easy recipes, healthy food swaps, and cooking products.

High-Tech Shortcut To Greek Yogurt Leaves Purists Fuming : \ NPR

My takeaway – I buy greek yogurt because it’s a simple food. If you agree, always check the back of the label to make sure there are no weird additives.

EnlargeBenjamin Morris/NPR

America’s food companies are masters of technology. They massage tastes and textures to tickle our palates. They find ways to imitate expensive foods with cheaper ingredients.

And sometimes, that technological genius leads to controversy. Continue reading

Yogurt Nutrition Explained: It’s Alive! | Women’s Health Magazine

Yogurt Nutrition Explained: It’s Alive! | Women’s Health Magazine.

Here’s what we do know. Your digestive system is like Casablanca for microorganisms: Some 400 species of bacteria and yeast can be found there. Some are locals, created by your body; others are tourists, just visiting after you ingest them via food. Of these microorganisms, those like salmonella and some species of E. coli are nasty (usually the tourists, naturally). And others like L. casei and L. reuteri can be nice — very nice. “Probiotics are basically any microorganism that, when ingested, may benefit human health,” says Athos Bousvaros, M.D., a specialist in gastroenterology and nutrition at Children’s Hospital Boston.

According to Dr. Bousvaros, your digestive tract houses much of your immune system, a complex constellation of cells and tissues that fight pathogenic organisms that can make you sick. Having more of the beneficial organisms there may help prevent illness: They protect you both by stunting the growth of the nasty ones on the spot and by forcing them out, essentially taking all the free seats in the digestive tract; the bad guys just have to move on, ultimately exiting your system. When the number of good bugs drops — for example, after a course of antibiotics, which kills many of the good guys as well as the bad — you might be more likely to get sick. And as you age, your natural levels of beneficial bacteria decrease. But swallowing ’em can help get you healthy, plus stop trouble before it starts.

Probiotics give your immune system a boost. New research shows that L. reuteri can help you kick the Kleenex while your colleagues sniffle. A study in Sweden found that workers taking the probiotics were healthier than the pla — cebo group, who called in sick two and half times more. “L. reuteri helps keep you healthy by secreting reuterin, an antimicrobial agent that prevents the growth of pathogenic microorganisms in the gut,” says Vicki Koenig, R.D.

Read more at Women’s Health: