How to Support your Microbiome

If you have ever felt alone in this world, please be assured that you are not!  Millions of beneficial organisms, including bacteria, viruses, and fungi, have been with you all along, mostly populating your large intestine.  If this is not reassuring, (and it should be-because they can do a lot of good for you) please know that supporting this co-existing population can have a major influence on your health. 

Your gut microbiome influences not only your metabolism and ability to fight infection, but even, and somewhat surprisingly, your behavior. Alterations in the types of organisms that live within it can lead to disease formation, particularly autoimmune disease. The good news is that there is a lot you can do to support your microbiome. And, in doing so, you empower will yourself with protection against many toxic autoimmune triggers.   

A good way to support your microbiome is by eating probiotic or fermented foods, like kimchi, miso, sauerkraut, or yogurt. Though probiotics are available as supplements, there is tremendous benefit to eating the fermented foods themselves. These food sources provide not only the beneficial bacteria, but also the anti-inflammatory metabolites that they have produced.  Probiotic bacteria metabolites contain short-chain fatty acids like butyrate, acetate, and propionate, which support your colon, and decrease inflammation in your intestinal tract.

Diversity is what counts here. This means that you want to increase the variety of types of organisms that live within your intestinal tract. Multiple studies are underway to determine which bacteria maybe beneficial in the treatment of lupus, rheumatoid arthritis , and inflammatory bowel disease. However, until we know more about that, it is best to supplement your diet with as many different types of probiotic foods as possible.

Probiotic Foods: sauerkraut, pickles made with salt-not vinegar, kimchi, natto, yogurt, kefir, kombucha, and miso

Like any dietary change, this should be done slowly.  Doing so gives your bacterial populations a chance to “catch up “to your eating patterns, and help you properly digest your food.

Below is a dish that highlights kimchi, a Korean, fermented cabbage, that pairs beautifully with rice. Crisping some of the rice in the pan gives the dish a good textural contrast against the soft tofu, and melting watercress sprouts. If you want more heat, stir in some gojuchang paste at the end.  Enjoy, Dr. Weintraub

Kitchen-Prescription Recipe: Fried Forbidden Rice with Tofu and Kimchi

Three cups of cooked forbidden (black) rice, see directions below

14 ounces of organic, firm tofu, cut into half inch cubes

1/2 Cup of cabbage kimchi, julienned into fine strips

3 tablespoons of expeller pressed grape seed oil or expeller pressed avocado oil

2 tablespoons of organic tamari sauce

2 teaspoons of toasted sesame oil

2 teaspoons of agave syrup

Three thinly sliced scallions, include both the white and green parts

1 tablespoon of toasted sesame seeds

Several handfuls of baby watercress

Gojuchang paste to taste

Heat the grape seed oil in a large frying pan over medium heat, until shimmering. Add the tofu squares, and sauté until lightly browned on both sides. Add in the rice and kimchi, and mix thoroughly with the tofu. Combine the tamari sauce, sesame oil, and agave in a measuring cup, and stir into the rice mixture. Continue to cook over medium-high heat until the rice crisps on the bottom of the pan, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat. Sprinkle with the sliced scallions and sesame seeds, and mound the baby watercress on top. Serve hot with gojuchang paste on the side. 

How to cook forbidden rice:

Soak 1 Cup of black, forbidden rice in plenty of water for at least one hour, and preferably overnight.   Discard the soaking water. Bring 1 1/2 cups of water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add the rice , cover the pan, and bring down the flame to its lowest setting.  Cook for 25 minutes, turn off the heat, and then let the rice rest for another 10 minutes.

K-P Food is Medicine Cooking Tips

Soy, wheat, and corn are the crops most heavily sprayed with pesticides in this country. For that reason, only use USDA-certified, organic tofu. Assume that tofu without this label has been treated with glyphosate, the most abundantly used agro-pesticide in the USA.

Choose tamari sauce, a fermented soybean product that is usually wheat free, over commercial soy sauce. Commercial soy sauce may be heavily processed, and often contains wheat and added sugar.

Black rice has even more anthocyanin, the purple pigment that gives it it’s characteristic color, than blueberries. Anthocyanin is a potent antioxidant with multiple health benefits, including the lowering of cardiovascular risk factors. Several studies suggest that it may be helpful in controlling inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Jennifer Weintraub says:

    Fantastic information!

  2. Meg Cimino says:

    Looking forward to trying this recipe!

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