Cultured Probiotic-rich Foods Are The Key To Digestive Health And Immunity

Cultured Probiotic-rich Foods Are The Key To Digestive Health And Immunity

I love eating cultured vegetables and fruits and drinking cultured beverages. I enjoy making cabbage sauerkraut, fruit chutneys, fruit butters, fruit compotes, ginger carrots, coconut kefir, beet kvass, and salsa every month. My fascination with cultured/fermented foods started when I found out about them in my training to become a certified healing foods specialist.


I was in the classroom portion of my certification in 2008 and our instructors Caroline Barringer and Jennifer Pecot started teaching us all about the amazing benefits of eating cultured/fermented foods for healing. We learned how cultured probiotic-rich foods are the key to digestive health and immunity. We made all kinds of delicious cultured foods and beverages including coconut kefir, beet kvass, cultured butter, cabbage sauerkraut, salsa, ginger beer, sour cream, and coconut pudding. After making everything I was amazed at how easy these foods were to make.


 Everything was so fresh, delicious, and good for you!


I was sold and immediately purchased vegetable culture starter and kefir starter and started experimenting with making my own versions of cultured/fermented food recipes. If you’ve never heard of or eaten cultured/fermented foods, I’m going to give you a quick explanation so you know what they are and why they should become an integral part of your diet. Hopefully this will motivate you to start creating your own delectable cultured/fermented foods.


Before pasteurization, refrigeration, and freezing, vegetables, fruits, dairy, and drinks were preserved for long storage through the use of culturing or lacto-fermentation. Fermenting or culturing foods is an ancient skill that has been used in a wide variety of different countries for years.


Lacto-fermentation causes the lactic acid-producing bacteria or lactobacilli to convert the sugar and starches in fruits and vegetables into lactic acid. Lactic acid bacteria are responsible for converting the milk sugar and milk protein in dairy products into lactic acid. Lactobacilli are microorganisms or live bacteria and are high in natural enzymes.


This lactic acid bacteria also acts as a natural food preservative that prevents bad bacteria from growing and causing food to spoil. Lacto-fermentation or culturing of foods and beverages creates probiotics or friendly bacteria in our digestive tract. These probiotics produce beneficial microflora which colonize in our intestines and keeps our digestive and immune system healthy and strong.


Cultured or lacto-fermented foods and beverages are an excellent source of healthy microflora including: Lactobacillus Plantarum, Lactoccus Lactis, Lactoccus Cremoris, Bifidobacterium, and Acidophilus which all help maintain a healthy digestive and eliminative system.


Cultured or lacto-fermented foods and beverages provide excellent protection for the body against pathogenic yeasts, fungus, viruses, parasites, and the effects of antibiotics. These foods help strengthen our immune system and heal our gut along with providing our bodies with a high level of essential nutrients including probiotics, phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and fiber that are easy for you to digest and absorb.


If you eat a diet high in processed foods, are under stress, drink carbonated beverages or alcohol, takes antibiotics, hormone replacement, prescription medication, or have experienced an illness or undergone medical treatments you definitely need to include cultured foods and beverages in your diet to maintain or restore good health.



A good guideline is to eat at least 2-4 ounces per meal for cultured vegetables and fruits and 8 ounces per day for cultured/fermented beverages.


Some of the key roles probiotics or friendly bacteria perform are:



  1. Moves out pathogenic bacteria and creates substances (bacteriocins) that kill pathogens.
  2. Crowding out and destroying unhealthy yeast.
  3. Production of organic acids which improve the digestive PH and help regulate acidity levels.
  4. Production of vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, vitamin K, and biotin.
  5. Pre-digestion of protein, carbohydrates, and fats in foods that are consumed.
  6. Detoxification of unhealthy toxins and chemicals in the body.
  7. Support optimal cholesterol and healthy blood pressure.
  8. Creates a large portion of the body’s stool.


Lacto-fermented or cultured foods are also extremely rich in living food enzymes which help our bodies to digest and absorb important nutrients that are the key to good health.



To purchase fermented food starters check out this excellent source. If you don’t want to make your own cultured vegetables here is a great source to buy ready made cultured vegetables. Check out the most comprehensive fermented cookbook available that will teach you all about fermentation.



I will be posting some easy recipes for cultured foods so you can learn how to start including these wonderful healing foods into your diet.



If you like this post and would like to contribute to the conversation, please take a moment to leave a comment.



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  1. Hey Shelley, Making Cultured Probiotic-rich Foods is an ancient method on how people preserved foods those days. I’m glad that its getting back its value particulary as I am one of those people that really dislike these industrial manufactured foods!
    Elizabeth recently posted..Are You A Network Marketer?My Profile

    • Shelley Alexander says:

      Hi Elizabeth, I’m on a mission to help draw attention to these wonderful health-promoting foods. I will be posting some of my favorite recipes for them in the near future so check back or join my email list for updates. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Hi Shelley, are these foods can aid in bowel excretion? My daughter always find hard time during Pee time 🙁
    By the way, thanks for sharing this tip 😀


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    • Shelley Alexander says:

      Hi Herbert, cultured foods promote healthy digestion and elimination so it will help your daughter to have easier bowel movements. I also recommend that you show her how to relax during elimination so that it will be easier. Putting her feet up on a small waste basket turned upside down and doing deep relaxing breaths during this time will help alot.

  3. Hi Shelley,

    what a great informative article on the probiotic benefits.

    A “healing foods specialist” sound like a great accreditation to have.

    Natural ways of healing have been one of my main interests for more than thirty years.
    My mother used to make sauerkraut and we had it every week.
    I enjoyed learning about ‘rejuvelac’ which is created be soaking wheat berries and can be used for fermenting things like ground up sprouted soyabeans to make soyabean cheese cake.

    Thank you so much for the great reminder and information!
    Yorinda recently posted..Vision Board Part 3 ImagesMy Profile

    • Shelley Alexander says:

      Hi Yorinda, I’m glad you enjoyed the info. Being a healing foods specialist and holistic chef has changed my life for the better! Holistic healing is truly the key to vibrant health and longevity.

  4. Traci Fonville says:

    Hi Shelley,
    Great article! Thanks for sharing. There’s a CHFS course in my area that I’ve wanted to take for some time now. Can you email me your personal take on the course? I believe the sign-up is coming up soon and it would be great to hear from a grad of the program. I just recently finished the Health Coach program with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and I’m looking to further my knowledge. I hope to hear from you soon! Great website and continued success to you!
    Be well,

    • Shelley Alexander says:

      Hi Traci, Congratulations on finishing the health coach program! The CHFS program is wonderful and I will email you info about it. I’m glad you enjoyed the article.

  5. I have recently learned a lot about pro biotics and how it effects the immune system. Lets just say i am now getting my dosage plus some extra now of my pro biotics, especially my vitamin b’s. It has also helped me loose weight i believe! 🙂

    Talk soon!
    Kyle recently posted..Become a Member of Today!My Profile

    • Shelley Alexander says:

      Hi Kyle, I’m happy to hear that you are getting a daily dose of probiotics and have lost weight as a result 🙂 Probiotics really have a powerful effect on the health of your immune system. Keep it going!

  6. Now the probiotics… when you say it heals your gut… does it help with someone with IBS? While I am sure homemade is better… are there any at the store that you would recommend?
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    • Shelley Alexander says:

      Hi Nile, yes cultured foods will help with IBS. I would recommend you add them slowly into your diet and watch how your body reacts to the foods. Consult with your doctor before making any major changes in your diet so that they can monitor you. You also should consider including plant-based digestive enzymes with all your meals to give your body extra enzyme support. Cultured foods are easy to make and I will be posting recipes to help you make them. If you don’t want to make cultured foods, I would recommend purchasing cultured vegetables from Rejuvenative Foods and Immunitrition. You can purchase cultured beverages from Beyond Organic, Kevita, and Synergy. I hope this helps!

  7. Hi Shelley,

    Wow, I had no idea! I have a history of digestive problems – I was intolerant to so much that I became vegan which was fine – I felt really healthy but I didn’t look in to why I was intolerant to so many things!!! That is until a cyst on my pancreas burst suddenly – apparently that was the problem! After that it was even more difficult to eat as you can imagine! It took months to recover and none of the doctors had a clue about how to heal my gut so I could digest food properly again! I ended up finding a natural doctor who gave me natural enzymes for 3 months. It sounds to me as though if I had known about these kinds of foods in the first place I could have prevented and healed a lot of the damage done years before (I had a shocking diet of pretty much coca cola when I was anorexic)!

    I’ll be back to learn more because I’m afraid with my history that another cyst might form or something and I sure as hell don’t want to go through that again!!!!

    All the best,

    Emma 🙂
    Emma recently posted..Planning for the festive seasonMy Profile

    • Shelley Alexander says:

      Hi Emma, I am so glad that this article has helped you learn that there are healing food options that can help you to digest your foods better. I had problems with indigestion and acid reflux on almost a daily basis and eating cultured foods changed my life. I will be posting easy recipes to show you how to get these amazing foods into your diet on a daily basis, so check back! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  8. Excellent post, Shelley. I grew in India and cultured foods were served at every meal. Of course, I took it for granted then, but really appreciate them now. As a foodie and author, I advocate cultured foods to my clients. I love to make them, enjoy them and value them highly.
    Srinivas Reddy recently posted..Food Combining Rules: silly or wise?My Profile

    • Shelley Alexander says:

      Hi Srinivas, Thanks for your comments 🙂 I am so happy to hear that you love cultured foods and grew up enjoying them! I am on a mission to get more people enjoying these amazing healing foods. I am sure your clients appreciate you advising them to eat cultured foods. I would love for you to share some of your favorite recipes for them.

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