By Tressa Eaton
If you have a phone, television, computer or walked by a bookstore, you’ve probably heard and read a little about probiotics. These yeasts and live bacteria, naturally found in your stomach, not only aid digestion, but help supercharge your immune system. How? By providing a good breeding ground, so to speak, enabling all of that healthy eating you do to effectively be absorbed by your body.
According to Dr. Bill Miller, author of The Microcosm Within: Evolution and Extinction in the Hologenome, “To date, the really consequential scientific discovery of the 21st century has been our growing understanding of the intimate relationship we have with our microbial companions,” he says. “They form a critical part of our immune system, metabolism, and even participate in our neurochemistry and moods. There is an essential balance between our own cells and our microbial partners that needs to be maintained. Probiotics are one of our best ways of positively influencing that crucial balance of microbial life that we need to be our best selves.”
At Clean Plates, we love us some probiotics. We stock our fridge with peppy jars of sauerkraut, we prefer our yogurts to contain “live active cultures” such as Chobani, Dannon, and Activia (see the National Yogurt Association’s site for a full list of brands with these live cultures) and we’ve been known to throw back a kefir smoothie or two.
So you can imagine our excitement when we found out there’s a host of new drinks that can help us incorporate beautiful bacteria into our daily routine and give our microbial gut health a boost at the same time. Plus, anything that helps us on our hydration quest during these soupy summer days is right up our alley. Here are three of our favorites:
In terms of ingredients, this stuff is so far from what we think of as soda that it is in a class of its own. The folks at Obi took out all the high fructose corn syrup, citric acid and artificial sweeteners that plague soda and replaced it with a refreshing mix of organic water kefir, fresh juice, Himalayan salt and non-bitter stevia for a kick of sweetness. It’s raw, organic and if you are counting, less than 30 calories a serving. We love the Tart Cherry Vanilla Bean punched up with both Rainer and Morello cherry juice and the Organic Root Beer with real vanilla bean that could convert even the most committed soda drinker. It’s a great fizz-packed alternative for those who still can’t wrap their tastebuds around kombucha. (Available at select stores across the country.)
Suja’s new Probiotic Waters are for the purist. The water is made with nothing but purified water, a squeeze of organic fruit, plus 2 billion CFUs (colony forming units) of vegan probiotics. You can find the four flavors, Ginger Lime, Orange Ginger Pineapple, Pineapple Lemon Cayenne and Raspberry, exclusively at Target. (Or you can buy their juices online, for $8 per bottle.)
Maybe you’ve picked up a bottle of goat kefir at the store, but if you really want to go to the next level—it’s time to move on to water kefir. Water kefir grains create a carbonated lacto-fermented beverage from sugar water, fruit juice or coconut water. This makes for an easy swap for those who want all the benefits of kefir, without any of the dairy. Chakra Levy’s started KeVita after experimenting with fermentation in her home kitchen. Now her full line of sparkling probiotic drinks and tonics come in flavors like Tangerine, which contains an extra pick-me-up, courtesy of apple cider vinegar and green coffee beans. (Available at select stores and supermarkets nationwide.)