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The community of microorganisms living in the digestive tract of humans is usually referred to as gastrointestinal microbiota or gut flora. Consisting of viruses, bacteria, fungi, and yeasts, gut flora has been strongly linked to the human immune system. In fact, research suggests that the gut microbiome contributes to 70% of the immune system. Each of the microorganism strains present in the gut have different functions – while some break down sugars, others are responsible for the breakdown of toxins.
Maintaining gut flora equilibrium
The gut is usually considered to be the second brain in humans because of brain-gut interactions. Mediated by the autonomous nervous system, the human brain and digestive tract have a bidirectional relation. In other words, while the brain can affect the gut microbes, the gut microbes can also affect your brain. Apart from good brain health, maintaining the balance between the good and the bad bacteria in the gut has also been associated with enhancing the immune system, regulating metabolism, and improving your mood. According to a Danish study, the amount of weight you are able to lose may also be determined by some of the bacteria in your gut.
Maintaining the equilibrium between the good and bad bacteria is your gut is essential if you want to boost your immune system and live a healthy life. While, kids mostly receive their gut microbes from their mother during vaginal birth, that is not the only source of these probiotics. Several naturally occurring foods are a rich source of probiotics, and there are also probiotic supplements available today. One of the easiest ways to maintain the balance of the gut microbe is to include fermented foods in your diet. Fermented food are a great source of probiotics because they are brimming with live cultures.
Fermented foods and its benefits
Fermented foods are regarded as natural probiotics because they are a rich source of the good bacteria in your gut. While Europeans have sauerkraut and pickles, Asians are known for their fermented foods like tempeh, miso, and Kombucha. Kimchi, a spicy fermented cabbage dish, comes from Korea.
Eating fermented foods have a number of health benefits including, enhancing your immune system, reducing inflammation in the body, cleansing the body of dangerous chemicals, and maximizing the absorption of nutrients in your body.
Fermented foods are usually considered safer to eat than raw vegetables because of the presence of lactic acid bacteria which are known to be the most effective neutralizer of all the other bacteria.
Buttermilk as a probiotic source
If you are planning to use naturally occurring fermented foods as a source of probiotics in your daily diet, it is important to choose a fermented food that is readily available. One of the fermented foods that contains live cultures of bacteria, and is available in most supermarkets is buttermilk.
Buttermilk is a fermented dairy product. It is the byproduct when milk is churned to make butter. A household staple in Asian and central European countries, buttermilk is a yogurt-based drink that contains live cultures of lactic acid bacteria. Buttermilk is a tart and tangy liquid, and it may be an acquired taste for many.
Some of the health benefits that you can enjoy by adding buttermilk to your daily diet are:
Great source of probiotics
The live cultures of lactic acid bacteria present in buttermilk aid in maintaining the balance between good and bad bacteria in the gut microbiome, thereby improving the immune system. These lactic acid bacteria breakdown the food and facilitate the absorption of nutrients. Buttermilk has also been used as an effective treatment for lowering the instances of irritable bowel syndrome.
Complete food by itself
Buttermilk contains all the essential nutrients such as vitamins, enzymes, carbohydrates, and proteins. As buttermilk is 90% water, it also assists in maintaining the water balance of your body.
Reduces blood pressure
Research indicates that drinking buttermilk reduces systolic blood pressure as well as mean arterial blood pressure. This benefit of buttermilk is thanks to the milk fat globule membrane (MFGM) found in this fermented drink. The aim of this research was to find the antihypertensive properties of MFGM, and the results indicate that buttermilk consumption does indeed reduce blood pressure.
Alleviates several stomach ailments
Buttermilk aids in digestion and helps clear your stomach because of the acid contained in it. Regular consumption of buttermilk helps alleviate several stomach ailments like irritable bowel syndrome, stomach infections, irregular bowel movements, lactose intolerance, and colon cancer. This drink also soothes the stomach lining and cools down the digestive tract of the body, thereby reducing body heat.
Good source of calcium without much fat content
The name buttermilk is slightly misleading – it could be perceived that buttermilk is full of fat and calories. When milk is churned, the butter component receives all the fat content while the buttermilk, which is the byproduct, does not. This is why buttermilk is considered to be a great source of calcium and other nutritional elements without any added calories or fats.
Try Buttermilk Today
Buttermilk is also a good source of phosphorus, vitamin B12, and potassium. Buttermilk is a fermented drink that boosts a healthy gut, which in turn translates to a healthy immune system. One thing to keep in mind – these health benefits of buttermilk are thanks to the live culture of bacteria in it. Therefore, ensure that you buy unpasteurized buttermilk.
Cohut, M. (2017, September 15). Gut flora dictates how much weight we can lose. Retrieved April 11, 2018, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319411.php
Effect of buttermilk consumption on blood pressure in moderately hypercholesterolemic men and women. (2013, October 25). Retrieved April 11, 2018, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0899900713003742
Floch, M. H., & Kim, A. (2014). Probiotics, prebiotics and gut health. Clinical Insights: Probiotics, Prebiotics and Gut Health, 2-6. doi:10.2217/ebo.13.588