Here is the second round of an ongoing series of posts that I am doing on probiotic foods. I am doing this series of posts because digestive health is important to everyone, including athletes. And it may be even more important for athletes to pay attention to keeping a healthy digestive system since we consume more foods and most athletes (unfortunately) consume way too much sugar – sugar is known to damage the digestive tract and make our stomach bacteria less effective.
Kimchi is the topic for this post. It is a traditional Korean food that is delicious. It is often spicy (which I love) and very flavorful. There are many variations of it but the basic ingredients are often a combination of the following: cabbage, hot pepper in some form or another, radish, carrot, garlic, onion, ginger, fish sauce and salt. Chinese cabbage is the most common cabbage used to make Kimchi.
Once the fermentation process is done the resultant beneficial bacteria is called “lactobacillus kimchi”, and there are other beneficial bacteria as well. This combination of bacteria are known to be beneficial not only on digestive health but also in strengthening the immune system (another system in the body that athletes need to keep strong).
The combination of ingredients also make Kimchi a very nutrient dense source of food. Abundant vitamins and minerals are: A, C, B1, B2, beta-carotene, iron and calcium. It can be quite salty though so it is best served as a side dish with things such as rice, steamed veggies, and lean meats.
You can find some form of it in most grocery stores but look around a bit and make sure you get a brand that has only whole food ingredients – no need for hydrogenated oils or MSG!