Probiotics and their health benefits (2)


It is no longer news that most of the carbonated drinks and beverages that people take are adulterated. Once again, this is a wake-up call to go back to Eden. Always remember that no one has ever died from NOT taking carbonated drinks.

Although, some say that Hippocrates wProbiotics and their health benefits (2)as incorrect in suggesting that all disease begins in the gut, evidence shows that many chronic metabolic diseases do. Your gut bacteria and the integrity of your gut lining strongly affect your health.

The gut (the gut is another term for the gastrointestinal tract) microbiome is now increasingly becoming a target with a view to improving human health.

Not all fermented foods contain probiotics which are live microorganisms or bacteria that provide health benefits to the human body. However, a food can be both a probiotic and a fermented food.

Let us look at some indigenous foods that are probiotics. Coincidentally, I will be discussing the ones that double up as probiotics and fermented foods:

Fermented pap water

 It is the water derived from a milled and already sieved fermented corn. It is called ‘omi ogi’ or ‘omidun’ in Yoruba. The Igbo call it ‘mmiri akamu’. In Yoruba land, it is used to cook herbs.

Studies have shown that the water is a potential source of probiotic Lactic Acid Bacteria (LAB). In one study, it was observed that omidun had the highest load of lactic acid bacteria (LAB), followed by uncooked pap.

Yoghurt

While on the fermented foods series a couple of years ago, I discussed yoghurt extensively.

Healthy probiotic bacteria are used to make yoghurt. They turn the milk sugar (lactose) into lactic acid, which causes the yoghurt to taste sour. These probiotic bacteria often referred to as “live cultures” in yoghurt offer many health benefits.

For those who do not take dairy products, plant-based milk can be made into yogurt. Recently, I made soy milk yoghurt. I will give a vivid explanation of how to make it.

African oil bean seed

It is known as Ugba /Ukpaka in Igboland. It is called ‘Apara’ in Yorubaland and ‘Ukana’ by the Efiks. It is another probiotic-rich food. The seeds go through fermentation before being used for preparing assorted delicacies.

African locust bean

African locust beans is called “iru” in Yorubaland. It is called “dawa dawa” in Hausa. It is rich in probiotics.

Ogiri

Are you squeezing your nose already? It is true it has a pungent smell but despite that smell, it comes with a lot of amazing health benefits. It is a condiment made from fermented oil seeds such as sesame, egusi, melon, African oil bean, castor oil, soybeans, fluted pumpkin seeds (ugwu) and more.

A study concludes that the viability of probiotics in Ogiri is better than in Ugba. This means you should choose ‘Ogiri’ over ‘ugba’.

Let us expand our tentacles by talking about some non-indigenous foods that are rich in probiotics. You can get them to buy in big supermarkets.

Kefir

It is made by adding kefir grains to milk. Kefir contains several major strains of friendly bacteria and yeast, making it a diverse and potent probiotic. In fact, it is high in diverse composition of beneficial bacteria and yeast than yoghurt.

Kombucha

It is a fermented black tea from China. kombucha is known to contain a host of gut-beneficial bacteria and yeast species. It is also known as ‘kargasok tea’. It was very popular in this country in the early 90’s.

Tempeh

It is made from soybeans that have been cooked and fermented. It has been shown to increase the concentration of good bacteria in the gut.

Kimchi

A Korean favourite, kimchi is made primarily with fermented cabbage and contains large amounts of the gut-friendly bacterium, Lactobacillus.

Natto

It is a traditional Japanese dish consisting of fermented soybeans. natto is high in gut-boosting bacteria.

Sauerkraut

A type of fermented cabbage, sauerkraut is packed with good bacteria and is super easy and inexpensive to make at home.

Miso

Used in Japanese and Asian foods, miso is a paste made from fermented soy. It contains large amounts of the gut-friendly bacteria.

A study titled The Functionality of “Ogi” – a fermented cereal gruel made in Nigeria, in the Management of Gastrointestinal Diseases concludes that fermented corn may have probiotic potential and may be able to further enhance immune health in the gut by being a dietary source of short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) and nitric oxide (NO).

A study titled Beneficial Effects of Yoghurts and Probiotic Fermented Milks and Their Functional Food ; Potential by Elena Hadjimbei et al concludes that it is abundantly clear from accumulating studies that the consumption of yoghurt and probiotic fermented milks demonstrate positive health effects in a number of pathological conditions.

A study titled ‘Probiotic potential and viability of bacteria in fermented African oil bean seed (Pentaclethra macropyhlla): A mini-review’ by Anosike et al concludes that daily consumption of fermented African oil bean seed may be beneficial in a multitude of disorders both inside and outside gastrointestinal tract (GI). Thus, it can serve as a functional and probiotic food product.

A study titled Isolation of Lactobacillus species from fermented Parkia biglobosa seed and screening for their probiotic activity by Kuti et concludes that the Lactobacillus species isolated from fermented locust beans can serve as probiotic candidates.

The results of a study titled Chemical and Microbial Evaluation of ‘ Ogiri’ (A Locally Fermented Food Condiment) Produced from Kersting Groundnut Seeds by Ogbuonye indicated a probiotic potential of freshly fermented “Ogiri” against some of the pathogens.

Apart from all these fermented foods, there is a lot of evidence that the consumption of fruits and vegetables contribute positively to bacterial diversity in the human gut too.

Let me explain how I made soymilk yoghurt. Wash half a cup of soybeans properly and soak overnight. In the morning, take 3 table spoons out of the water you used in soaking it and keep it because it serves as your yoghurt starter.

Wash the soybeans and remove the skin. Blend and sieve. Do not add too much water while sieving. You need a thick consistency of milk to get a thick yoghurt. The whitish water is your milk but it must be cooked till it boils. After it has cooled down, pour into a glass jar or plastic.

Wait till it is just warm if you check with your finger. Pour the three table spoons of water that you kept into it and mix. Cover your jar, wrap very well and keep in a warm place for 12 hours. I kept mine for 24 hours to make the taste tangier.

When your soy yoghurt is ready, you can keep some tablespoons as a starter for your next batch of yoghurt making. If the first trial comes out well, you can then do more than half a cup of soybeans in your next attempt.

Now that you know that your gut microbiota is strongly influenced by your food choices, you can easily support this by including more probiotics in your diet.

I will be waiting for pictures of your soy milk yoghurt.



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