So COVID-19 case numbers are coming down, and our children are going back to school in a couple of weeks. But that’s no reason to let your guard down. In fact, with more movement and socialisation expected, wouldn’t you want to ensure that your immune system (and your child’s too) is fighting fit when you make your way back into the outside world?
One easy way to do that — and you can start right now — is to add gut-healthy fermented foods like kefir, and yoghurt to your daily diet. A healthy gut ensures that the food you consume is digested and absorbed effectively. Hence, you enjoy gastrointestinal well-being, less (or no) illness, and improved immunity, says Dr Melvin Look.
Gut health can also determine how well we age, and play a part in whether we develop age related neurologic disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, the Director of PanAsia Surgery in Mount Elizabeth Hospital, Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital and Parkway East Hospital adds.
For children, good gut health can mean growing up “healthy and free from allergy-related conditions such as skin eczema.”
Feed your Gut with Pre- and Probiotics
Fermented food and drinks like kefir, yoghurt, kimchi, and miso contain probiotics — micro-organisms that help promote gut health, says Dr Look, adding that “it would be good to take a variety of these on a daily basis.”
Then there are also prebiotics — nutrients which help to feed the probiotic bacteria in our gut. These can be found in foods such as onions, garlic, bananas and whole grains.
Want good gut health? Start consuming these pre- and probiotics, whether as part of your daily meals, or as a supplement. What’s more, they are safe and beneficial for children, assures Dr Look.
“They can help children to relieve constipation, acid reflux, diarrhoea, and gas,” Dr Look says.
Here are five fabulous ones that are easy to find in Singapore, and which you can easily add to the dining table for any meal of the day.
Try these Fab Fermented Foods Today
If you are used to sweet stuff, kefir will be an acquired taste. Acquire it and along with it you’ll also enjoy the myriad health benefits that this cultured, fermented milk drink is known to offer. Firstly it comes loaded with protein, minerals, and vitamins. In addition it is high in probiotics — three times more than yoghurt! (source). It also contains fresh healthy bacteria and cultured yeast, both of which are good for your gut. Finally, certain probiotics in kefir are believed to protect against infections. And ladies, if you need more convincing, kefir is also said to give you better skin, improved bone health and help in weight control. #win
Ice Sherry Lee, 46, started taking k-Grain kefir after Christmas last year to manage her weight and to reduce bloating. After seeing positive results on herself, she started giving it to her children Kenneth, 11, and Kathryn, seven, for breakfast twice a week. “I usually mix two sachets of k-Grain Kefir Probiotics in 1,000ml of fresh milk to ferment into yoghurt, then mix it with cereal,” the Image Consultant says.
Yoghurt is a good source of good bacteria or probiotics. It contains live cultures that help to restore the good bacteria in your gut. Choose natural, unsweetened yoghurt, and try to avoid flavoured yoghurt as they contain high amounts of sugars, advises Dr Muhd Taufiq, the resident doctor at DTAP Clinic Somerset, a General Practitioner (NUS) with over 10 years of clinical experience.
(See also: 4 Easy Recipes to Boost your Immune System)
Full of umami, this fermented condiment that’s a staple in Japanese cuisine is rich in vitamins and minerals. It also contains a probiotic strain called A. oryzae that may help ease digestive problems such as irritable bowel syndrome (source). Go easy on miso though, as it is extremely salty!
If this traditional Korean dish of fermented vegetables brings back memories of Captain Ri and CLOY, eat it and enjoy! Sour and fiery, kimchi is a superbly flavourful way to get your dose of probiotics. It adds a kick to any meal, and elevates everything, even instant noodles, into sweat-inducing, mouthwatering comestibles. In addition, kimchi contains nutrients like vitamin K, which plays a part in bone metabolism and blood clotting (source), thus shoring up your body’s defences against illnesses.
You don’t have to be vegetarian to enjoy this popular meat replacement. Its nutty, smoky, crunch is deliciously addictive! Even better, the traditional Indonesia food, made of fermented soybeans compressed into flat pieces, is high in protein, vitamins, and minerals. It’s also a good source of calcium (source), which children and women need loads of.
:: Take Kefir for a healthier gut ::
Want to try kefir? It’s easy with k-Grain kefir Probiotics. Just pour a sachet into milk, and leave it to ferment over 24 hours. Each sachet contains 3 trillion probiotics and up to 61 strains of beneficial microbes to ensure healthy digestion. The Japan-formulated k-Grain kefir is sugar-free and suitable for vegetarians as well as the lactose intolerant. Use the code “MEDIA5” to enjoy a 5% discount off any purchase from k-Grain kefir Probiotics. This promo code is valid till end-June 2020, and cannot be combined with other discounts or offers.
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