When I was 20 years old my digestive system started to revolt big time. I found myself bloated, gassy, and running to the bathroom at any given moment. There was a night when I thought I needed to go to the ER, and it turned out to be a massive attack of gas pain, burning, and digestive irritation. There was a day where I had to go home from classes, because I became nauseous, and threw up after a class (which is something I NEVER do, no matter how sick I am).
I thought I had something seriously wrong, and in someways, digestive issues are. As it turns out, my was diagnosed as lactose intolerance and after looking back, I think it was only a piece of the puzzle.
I have what you might call a “sensitive stomach”. Certain foods simply don’t agree with me (wheat, gluten and too much dairy). Over the years, I have taken supplements, avoided foods, and restricted certain foods from my diet. These made me feel better, but they didn’t address the root of the problem. Its like taking pain reliever and avoiding bending over because you have a back ache, but never looking at why your back hurts in the first place.
After studying more and learning more about health and nutrition, as well as the effects of stress on digestion, I realized my gut bacteria was probably out of whack. When I increased my probiotics (from food sources) in my diet, my digestive issues lessened and bloating decreased. If I took a probiotic supplement when I had a stomach “attack” I felt much better.
Good gut bacteria, known as probiotics, help you digest food better, reduce inflammation, and aid in absorption of nutrients. Basically, they improve the function of your digestive tract, and when thrown out of whack, you might experience digestive issues such as constipation, diarrhea, bloating, gas, and more. Probiotics also play a role in your energy levels, since not digesting enough nutrients can make you feel tired, sluggish, and even weak.
Probiotics can be found as supplements, but they can also be found in fermented foods such as yogurt (good, organic yogurt from grass-fed cows, goats, or sheep), kombucha (fermented tea), and even in Kefir, another form of fermented dairy.
Kefir is also known as “drinkable yogurt” but is nothing like the gogurts that kids (should not) drink. Kefir is fermented with milk “grains” that add both yeast and probiotics to the drink. These add good bacteria, but also from digestive enzymes that aid even further in helping you to digest foods better.
It also makes a kick butt parfait for your busiest days. You can make it the night before, or a few batches for the week, and store in mason jars in the refrigerator. You can also make it quickly in the morning, since all the ingredients are added together in one bowl or jar.
This parfait uses plain kefir to cut back on sugar, and brown rice to add healthy protein and carbohydrates. This combination will help keep you fuller longer, especially when topped with fresh berries, seeds or nuts, and granola, for a little bit of healthy sweetness and fats. Brown rice might seem a bit odd to use in a breakfast dish, but its a great way to add in health grains and use up leftover rice. Its a bit like a porridge.
Ready-to-Go Breakfast Parfait
Makes on serving
1 cup Kefir
1/2 cup cooked, short grain brown rice
1/3 cup fresh berries
1 tsp granola (I used buckwheat groats)
optional 1 tsp honey or maple syrup to sweeten
optional 1 tsp hemp seeds or nuts
Add brown rice to your jar. Pour the Kefir over the brown rice and add sweetener if needed. Top with fresh berries, granola and nuts or seeds. If making ahead, add the sweetener and toppings right before eating or serving. Make several batches for the week and store in a sealed jar in the refrigerator.
Have you ever tried Kefir? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.