Let’s Talk Probiotics and Prebiotics

It’s the beginning of a new year. A new you. Why not add Probiotics to your health routine? or try something new to shake up your mundane Probiotic routine. After a lot of indulging over the holidays, my own digestive system has had enough, and needs a bit of TLC, and maybe yours does too.

One thing I can do for my digestive system to get it back on track is to get some healthy bacteria growing in there again.

There are 6 proven health benefits of Probiotics:

  1. Improve our digestion
  2. Produce Vitamins
  3. Lower Cholesterol Levels
  4. Regulate Hormones
  5. Boost our Immunity
  6. Increase Resistance to Infections

They are also helpful when you are under a large amount of stress. I’m not sure about you, but that sounds like a whole lot of good stuff. Especially during the winter months when our immune systems are tested daily with Colds and Flu, and of course the holiday overindulgence and stress.

There are 8 situations where Probiotics are necessary for your body:

  1. When you have an Infection
  2. Food Poisoning
  3. Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  4. Cancer
  5. Constipation
  6. After a course of antibiotics
  7. After surgery
  8. At times of prolonged stress

There are some great ways to get Probiotics to add to your daily routine. There are supplements that you can find, the most important having the bacteria strains Lactobacillus Acidopholous, and Bifodous. If you are Lactose Intolerant there are strains of Dopholous you can find without the Lactose. You can get Water Kefir or Milk Kefir grains, Kombucha, fermented foods, such as Sauerkraut, Kimchi, or Tempeh. Or even Yogurt has Probiotics. With yogurt, be sure that it isn’t high in sugar. Too much sugar will continue to feed the bad bacteria, and not allow the good bacteria to have a chance to grow and survive. There are so many different products out there now, be sure to do your research and speak with your health care provider before adding Probiotics to your daily routine.

Prebiotics are also very important, and often neglected when we talk about gut health. Prebiotics are what feed the Probiotics. It’s not something we really think about, but it is essential for the healthy gut bacteria to have something healthy to feed on. Prebiotics can be found in food. The best sources are: bananas, barley, garlic, Jerusalem artichoke, onions, soy beans, and wheat.

I like to use Water Kefir grains to get my Probiotics. I will show you here a couple of great ways to use them.

When I first purchased my Water Kefir grains they looked like this:

water-kefir

It was a tiny little package, with a small amount of these dried out little grains. I didn’t feel very confident about being able to do anything with them. But, I took them home and hoped for the best! There are lots of guidelines when using Kefir grains, because they are very sensitive. It is recommended to not use metal with your grains, that includes spoons, bowls, containers, and strainers. Plastic, glass, and wood are all good though!

The first thing you have to do is feed your Kefir Grains, so they can grow. They feed on sugar, fruits, and minerals. You will have to do a couple of rounds of fermentation before you are able to drink the Kefir that you are making.

To start, I took a large mason jar, put the grains in the bottom and filled the jar 3/4 of the way with filtered water. It is not recommended to use filtered water because it doesn’t have many minerals left in it, but the only mineral water I could find was carbonated, and I wasn’t sure if that would work or not, and I didn’t want to risk it. Tap water has chlorine in it and that can kill your grains! I added a teaspoon of Pink Himalayan Salt to add minerals to the water. Then I put in half a cup of organic cane sugar, and stirred it up with a wooden spoon. Don’t worry about the thought of there being too much sugar when you do want to drink your Kefir, because the grains eat the majority of it, and there isn’t a significant amount, if any, left over.

img_0567

Mason jar with Kefir grains, water, cane sugar, Pink Himalayan Salt, and the spoon I used to stir.

 

I then put a paper towel over the top of the jar and secured it with an elastic band. If you put a tight lid on, where your grains can’t breath, it is possible for the fermentation to create enough gas for your jar to explode. They need to be stored out of direct sunlight, so in a cupboard is fine.

img_0568

Mason jar with Kefir grains in the bottom. Paper towel over top with elastic band.

 

Then you sit back and let them do their thing! You can stir them every once in a while to get the nutrients moving around in there, but mostly I forgot about mine and didn’t do too much with them. Let them work their magic for 48 hours, unless it’s exceptionally warm in your cupboard, then it can take less time. Try to keep an eye on them. When the time is up, take them out and strain the Kefir Grains from the water. Your Kefir should have a sweet, fermented smell to it. There will be slight carbonation, but that increases after you have bottled your Kefir water. It could also have some scum, which is completely normal too.

img_0563

This is what your Kefir grains will look like after you feed them a couple of times.

 

 

After you have fermented your Kefir water you can flavour your Kefir water by adding fruit, like lemon, or berries, or ginger. You can add fruit juice, or even vanilla extract for a cream soda type taste.

img_0571

I put my Kefir water in this bottle (sorry for the label) and juiced a piece of ginger to add.

 

After you have done the fermentation like above, you strain the Kefir Grains out, and put the liquid into a bowl, or if you can, right into a clean bottle or jar. When you put the lid on your bottle or jar keep it fairly loose, to prevent explosions. It is best not to fill the jar to the top, and you should ‘burp’ your Kefir water occasionally. Which is just taking the lid off for a few seconds and then putting it back on.

img_0572

Kefir water with ginger juice in the bottle.

 

I also really enjoy using coconut milk. I buy the Organic coconut milk that comes in a carton (it has sugar in it already). I put my Kefir Grains in the mason jar, fill the jar 3/4s full with the coconut milk, put the paper towel and elastic band over the top, and away it goes! 48 hours later I strain out the grains and put my coconut milk kefir into a glass jug. It keeps well in the jug, in my fridge for about 4 or 5 days. I like adding it to smoothies, or I will add a bit of honey to it and drink it straight The possibilities are endless! Experiment and have fun with it! I definitely recommend that you remove the grains before adding any juice or flavour extracts, because that can make your grains flavoured or dyed a different colour.

If you aren’t going to use your Kefir Grains again right away, leave a small amount of liquid in the bottom of the jar and put your Kefir Grains back into the jar you just used and put them in your fridge. They will keep like this for quite awhile, because they go dormant. Then you can just bring them out again and start the process over. You can also start making another batch of Kefir right away if you would like as well.

When you start drinking the Kefir that you are making, it’s important to start with a small amount and work your way up. If you drink too much at first, and you have a large amount of bad bacteria in your system, the good bacteria in the Kefir will kill off the bad bacteria too quickly and can give you flu like symptoms, such as fever, nausea, and diarrhea. Go slow, the benefits will be so worth it!!

Let me know how making Water Kefir works for you or what you like to take for Probiotics 🙂

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