Gut health is kind of all the rage at the moment, and has been for the past few years. But hey, that’s a trend I can (and do) get on board with. A sore tummy, ineffective digestion system and constant bloating makes for a pretty rough experience of daily life. Many people don’t have the healthiest guts in the world due to stress, overindulging in alcohol and eating a diet high in processed foods and low in fresh, fiber-rich, plant-based foods.
One of the most important things we need to include in our diet is probiotic foods. Probiotics are healthy bacteria which hang out in the gut and keep things balanced, healthy and working well. Probiotics are also fantastic for supporting your immune system and keeping your overall wellbeing at a high standard.
The ketogenic diet welcomes many foods which are incredibly rich in probiotics. Fermented foods are the way to go when packing your gut full of probiotics, so I hope you like sour, tangy taste sensations!
Here are some of the best probiotic foods you can enjoy on the ketogenic diet…
Kimchi is the briny, salty, spicy, at-times crispy Korean food staple, and it’s delicious. Kimchi is made from fermented veggies (mostly cabbage). There are countless different kimchi recipes and styles, but they’re all fermented and they’re all a probiotic powerhouse.
Some kimchi varieties contain reasonably high carb levels with the addition of ingredients such as onions, so it’s important to find a really low-carb kimchi variety. The best way to do this? Learn how to make your own! Serve it on the side of meat dishes or simply sneak a spoonful for a sour, probiotic-rich snack throughout the day.
Another fermented cabbage treat! Sauerkraut is not for everyone, but honestly, just give it a go. There are 7 grams of carbs per cup, but you only need a couple of tablespoons per serving, so it really works out to be barely 1 gram of carbs.
Do make sure to find a variety without added sugars. Or, make your own if you’ve got the energy! This tangy concoction will pack your gut with good bacteria, boost that immune system and even bolster your bones. Serve with meats or use to make keto Reuben sandwiches with cheese and keto bread or cauliflower bread.
Kefir is a tangy, sour, slightly fizzy (not carbonated…but like, fizzy on the tongue) milk product similar to yogurt. It’s made by fermenting milk. Now, I know milk isn’t permitted on keto, but the fermentation process of kefir means the lactose is converted to lactic acid.
Kefir is a powerful probiotic which can really improve your gut health (and overall health) if you drink it everyday for an extended period of time. To make it as keto-friendly as possible, find plain, unflavored, unsweetened, full-fat kefir and drink small amounts of it to keep the carb count down.
Yup, cheese! Creamy, moreish, comforting cheese. Cheddar cheese and mozzarella (the best!) are two of the best “regular” cheeses which have probiotic benefits. Some cheeses are clearly labelled as “probiotic” too, so it’s worth taking a few extra minutes in the supermarket to study the labels to find the best. Look for live cultures in the ingredients list.
Interestingly, studies have shown that cooking probiotic foods (and killing the probiotics) doesn’t necessarily make the probiotics useless. Research shows that even probiotics which have been subjected to heat can still support and protect the gut and immune system. In saying that, it’s best to enjoy your cheese uncooked. Sprinkle grated cheddar over keto taco bowls or make a Caprese salad with fresh mozzarella, basil, tomato and olive oil.
Not everyone is familiar with tempeh, but most vegans and vegetarians are. It’s often confused with tofu, as it’s made from fermented soy and packed into a block shape to be sliced and cooked in a variety of ways. Tempeh is much more chewy and hard than tofu, and has a more robust flavor.
Tempeh is a superstar in the fermented food world when it comes to probiotics (soy-based as opposed to bean-based tempeh) so you should give it a try. Marinade tempeh with coconut aminos, lime juice and sesame oil and stir fry with bok choy. Or slip it onto skewers with mushrooms, brush with olive oil and grill on the BBQ.
Note: tempeh is a soy product, which is an issue for some people who either have a soy allergy or an iffy thyroid. It’s suspected that soy might affect thyroid function, but the verdict is still out on that, with some experts taking the stance that there’s really not a large connection between soy and the thyroid. Either way, check with your doc before adding soy products to your diet if you experience thyroid issues.
Add plenty of fermented foods to your diet for a healthy gut and strong immune system. Aim to add a little portion of probiotic food to each meal and you’ll be doing yourself a huge favor. If you’re not used to eating fermented foods, start off slowly and build up your “dosage” to prevent your system from freaking out about the new addition of good bacteria.
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