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Thanksgiving dish ingredients that work magic on your microbiome

Amelia Eudailey

Whether you're planning a traditional Thanksgiving feast, or opting for a more healthy spread, peppering in the following ingredients will give your gut an extra boost. As you take your post-dinner nap, your microbes will be noshing on key sources of pre and probiotics and giving the gift of whole food digestion back to your body! Pretty fancy for nap time, right?

Check out our list of popular microbe-loving Thanksgiving Day ingredients below and how you can swap them in to recipes you already have!

Leeks: 

Leeks are packed full of prebiotic bacteria (which feed the probiotic bacteria in your gut) and can be used as a substitute for white or green onions. Better when consumed raw, but still effective when lightly cooked. 

Barley:

Whole grain barley is an excellent source of rich fiber and has been shown to reduce blood sugar levels and help with appetite control. What's more, it has also demonstrated an increase in hormones necessary for reducing intestinal inflammation. Barley can be substituted for rice, particularly delicious in risotto dishes - just a 1:1 swap! 

Cranberries:

Already on the map for their super powers in the antioxidant world, preliminary research shows that the carbohydrate xyloglucans (found in the cranberry cell wall) has been linked to the growth of probiotic bacteria. 

Greek Yogurt:

While the cat's out of the bag when it comes to the probiotic strength of well manufactured and cultured yogurt, we're still coming around to how easy it is to swap sour cream out for this gut healthy alternative. Even fresh whipping cream, for example, can be made using one part heavy cream and one part greek yogurt - give it a try! 

Turmeric: 

A natural anti-inflammatory and well-known contributor to healthy gut balance, adding turmeric powder to your mashed potatoes or mac and cheese will provide an beautiful vibrant color and a better arsenal for your microbes when it comes to digesting indulgent foods. 

Hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving holiday!

The BioCollective

 

Masked microbes: The use of bacterial strains in sour beer

Amelia Eudailey

Sour beers started off as, well ... sour! Before modern fermentation and brewing processes, bacteria and wild yeast strains snuck their way into brewing vessels - usually hitching a ride with stirring utensils or setting up shop within the vessel itself from exposure to the surrounding air. Just as we unknowingly introduce beneficial microbes into our body day-to-day, the introduction of these stealthy strains were creating magic (uncontrolled magic, but magic nonetheless). Unfortunately beer drinkers didn't see it this way at the time, and after the development of more controlled fermentation techniques, most sour beers disappeared and were replaced with balanced ales and lagers. Lucky for us, sour beers started to make a comeback around the 1970’s and look as though they're here to stay. 

The process of brewing and the stage at which bacteria enters the picture is important. First, malted grains are ground up, mixed with water and heated in a process known as “mashing”. This process activates enzymes responsible for converting the grain starches into sugar, which is essential for fermentation. The sugary liquid (or the wort) is collected and then boiled, and at this stage hops and other ingredients (such as fruit or spices) are added for flavor.  Once the wort has cooled, bacteria and yeast are added in and get straight to work. As bacteria and yeast consume the wort sugars, carbon dioxide and alcohol are produced. Once this mixture goes through a barrel or bottled based aging process, the end result is beer!

In the past the word “bacteria” was almost always associated with a pathogen or virus, however as we’ve learned in the modern day microbial world, bacteria are our friends - especially if you’re a sour beer fan. The most common types of bacteria used in sour beer production are Lactobacillus and Pediococcus. Lactobacillus is a very established and widely utilized bacterial strain that is found in yogurt and fermented/pickled vegetables (think kimchi and sauerkraut). When Lactobacillus consumes sugar, it produces lactic acid instead of alcohol, which contributes to the sour taste of the beer. Similarly, Pediococcus produces lactic acid versus alcohol, causing the overall pH of the beer to lower and result in a tart taste. While these two strains elicit similar effects, they are not apples to apples. Think of Pediococcus as your friend who rarely showers, has a salty personality and can be full of surprises - as it has been known to have a harsher bite and can introduce a variety of unknown smells (like one reminiscent of sweaty socks!).

The use of microbes in sour beer is just one example among thousands that show how diverse microbial function is. Next time you go to grab a beer, think sour!

Glossary Of Terms:

  1. Fermentation: A process in which yeast and bacteria consume sugar to produce carbon dioxide and alcohol

  2. Bacteria: Single celled microorganisms

  3. Yeast: A single celled microorganism classified as a fungus

  4. Enzyme: A biological catalyst that accelerates cellular processes

  5. Pathogen: A type of bacteria or virus that cause infection or disease