The Latest Culture Craze

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photo: popsugar.com

While today is the nationally recognized day to celebrate our mothers, I feel like it’s also a great time to share with you my thoughts on a topic that our moms would probably embarrass us about: probiotics. If you don’t already know, probiotics are live cultures and bacteria in our gut that keep us healthy. They are the “good bacteria” that you can remember hearing about in Activia commercials and 8th grade health class (immediately followed by the safe sex lectures, of course). Most people redden at the topic of probiotics because they only associate them with stomach and digestive problems, but there are many other benefits to probiotics including the reduction of skin, allergy, oral and immune system problems. While these bacteria have always lived in our bodies naturally, they have more recently become popular as additions in food and supplements. Nowadays, you can find them in products ranging from chocolate to yogurt.

While I will admit that I’ve eaten Activia yogurt a few times in my life (not just for the bacteria in it but also for the yummy taste), I’ve moved on to try healthier and more natural forms of probiotics. I’ve found there to be two probiotic products that I really like and feel comfortable consuming on a regular basis. The first is known as kefir, which is similar to a drinkable yogurt. It has a tangy and refreshing flavor, which can be enhanced with other flavors ranging from coconut to strawberry. This kefir not only tastes delicious and filling, but it also contains beneficial yeast and probiotic bacteria to give “superior health benefits when consumed regularly.” (“What is Kefir?”) In my opinion, kefir serves as a great on-the-go breakfast or dessert, as it is loaded with vitamins, minerals, and most importantly, easily digestible proteins. Averaging at about 140 calories per cup, this yummy drink will definitely be a regular part of my diet from now on.

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My favorite brand of kefir, Helios

The second product that I discovered is called kombucha, which has actually been referred as the “Immortal Health Elixir” by the Chinese. Kombucha is a fermented beverage made from black tea and cane sugar, and has been sold by many health food markets in flavors ranging from ginger to blackberry. Containing B-vitamins, enzymes, and acids, in addition to probiotics, these kombucha drinks are said to offer health benefits such as improved digestion, increased energy, immune support, and detoxification. (“7 Reasons to Drink Kombucha Everyday”) I’d heard about kombucha in the past and always seen the refrigerated walls full of it in my local Whole Foods Market, but I hadn’t ever really thought of trying it until my co-worker recently raved to me about how she “never gets sick” now that she drinks it on a regular basis. Since I was planning on grabbing lunch at Whole Foods that day anyway, I figured that I might as well give the drink a try. As a fan of ginger ale and ginger beer, I naturally grabbed the “Gingerberry” flavor before checking out with the rest of my meal. After jumping from surprise by the hissing pop of carbonation escaping the bottle, as it does when opening a soda, I took a huge gulp of the murky “elixir.” At first, I was turned off by the pungent smell, but after tasting the refreshing berry and ginger flavors, I knew that the offsetting stinky smell could definitely be overlooked. Soon enough, my drink was gone and I was ready to try the million other flavors of kombucha.  Since then, I’ve tried a few more flavors from the same brand that have proven to be just as refreshing and flavorful as the “Gingerberry!”

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One of my favorite kombucha flavors, “Gingerade”

If you’re looking for a digestive aid or simply want to expand your healthy diet, I suggest that you take my advice and try some of these probiotic products yourself! You’d be surprised by how good they taste considering their lack of peanut butter or chocolate. Oh, and HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY to all of you human (and animal) mothers out there!

References:

7 Reasons to Drink Kombucha Everyday. (2014, February 17). Retrieved May 10, 2015, from http://draxe.com/7-reasons-drink-kombucha-everyday/

What is Kefir? (n.d.). Retrieved May 10, 2015, from http://www.kefir.net/what-is-kefir/

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