The ecosystem of intestinal bacteria is called Intestinal Flora in Japan. It was named because intestinal bacteria looks like a flower field when you look at it with a microscope. I like the image because the intestinal environment is just like a flower field. If you don’t take care of intestinal flora, it can affect your health. If you do not take care of intestinal flora, it can create many health problems. Constipation, diarrhea, thicken blood flow, stiff shoulders, and weight gain are just a few examples.
In order to maintain intestinal flora, the balance of good and bad bacteria is very important. 80% of the immune system exists in the intestines. It is important to keep healthy, good bacteria in the intestines. If you keep a heathy intestinal flora, it will help to improve the immune system and prevent diseases. And it will help to overcome diseases that you may already have.
In general, Japanese people are skinner than American people. It does not mean that they eat less. It is because of what they eat. Japanese cooking uses a variety of ingredients that are good for intestinal flora. They use fermented food, dietary fiber rich vegetables, and oligosaccharide.
What Is Fermented Food?
Japan produces many kinds of fermented foods. It is due to the warmer and humid climate. Fermented food is made with bacteria, mold, yeast and other microorganisms. Koji-kin (aspergillus oryzae) is a unique mold. It is made out of rice, wheat, and soybeans. This koji-kin is fundamental to producing many Japanese foods. Thanks to the old Japanese wisdom, this was their way to keep food without refrigeration.
Fermented food contains two types of lactic acid bacteria. They are animal based and plant based lactic acid bacteria. The common animal based lactic acid bacteria is yogurt, cheese, and kefir. 99% of lactic acid bacteria (known as probiotics) will be destroyed by gastric acid before reaching the intestines. This is due to the immune mechanism that attacks bacteria that comes from outside. However, “dead” probiotics will be carried into intestines to feed existing good bacteria. Happy ending!
Plant base lactic acid bacteria works differently. They are stronger than the animal based and reaches the intestines “alive”. Japanese have long loved natto (fermented soybeans), which has extremely powerful lactic acid bacteria. Most Japanese grew up with it, but I will not make you eat it. But try other fermented soybean products such as miso and soy sauce. Sake and mirin is a good seasoning made out of fermented rice.
Fermented vegetables known as pickled vegetables also contains good plant based lactic acid bacteria. Japanese pickles, called tsukemono, use many different kinds of vegetables. They are daikon, cucumbers, eggplant, carrot, white radish, green bell peppers, and many more. Kimchi, which originated in Korea, is also a good one. And, do not forget that sauerkraut originated in Germany. Just so you know, a jar of pickled cucumbers at an American grocery store do not belong to the fermented food. They are normally soaked in vinegar rather than salt. Finally, poplar component of umami (good flavor) Katsuobushi (bonito flakes) is a good fermented food.
Eat Dietary Fiber Rich Produce
Vegetables and fruits that are rich in dietary fiber are very important for intestinal flora. Dietary fiber will feed good bacteria so that it will grow. A good example is root vegetables. They are rich in dietary fiber and also warm your intestines. Mushrooms are rich in insoluble dietary fiber. Insoluble dietary fiber will expand and stimulate intestines. On the other hand, sea vegetables are rich in soluble dietary fiber. Soluble dietary fiber will feed good bacteria. Finally slimy vegetables work great for intestinal flora. They are okra, nagaimo (Chinese yam), satoimo (taro), and molokhiya. They contain a component called mucin which protects the intestines from chemicals. It also helps to improve intestinal flora and regulate bowel movements.
What is Oligosaccharide?
Oligosaccharide is very important when it comes to intestinal flora. Because it is a good quality of food for good bacteria. The amount of oligosaccharide is very small. So make sure that use oligosaccharide rich food for every day cooking. Example of the foods are burdock, onion, shallot, garlic, banana, natto (fermented soy beans), kinako and honey.
Is Oil Good for Intestinal flora?
The answer is yes. Good quality oil is rich in linolenic acid and works as a lubricating oil in the intestines. It smooths out the intestinal wall. Omega 3 will help to increase good bacteria and eliminate bad bacteria from your body. Example of the good oil is extra virgin olive oil, linseed oil, and perilla oil. By taking a spoonful of good oil, it will improve intestinal flora. It is important to know that the benefit will be destroyed by heat. So it is ideal to intake in the form of salad dressing.
Eating good food will feed good bacteria and therefore the amount of good bacteria will be increased. When good bacteria becomes more active, it will reduce bad bacteria. If your immune system becomes stronger, you will have more chance to lose weight!
Let’s cook 500 Calories Set Meal: Stewed Napa Cabbage and Ground Chicken!
Main: Stewed Napa Cabbage and Ground Chicken
Side 1: Broccoli and Cauliflower Warm Salad 29
Side 2: Kinako Banana Honey Yogurt
Soup: Mizore (Slushy Dikon) Miso Soup
Steamed White Rice
All recipes are made for 2 servings. This printable recipe box will allow you to change the serving size to adjust the recipe.
Main: Stewed Napa Cabbage and Ground Chicken 169 calories
This recipe contains good ingredients for intestinal flora. Napa cabbage and ginger are vegetables that warm your body. During cold winter months you want to keep eating vegetables that warm your body. It helps to make your intestines more active. Potato starch plays a background role for recipes. But I want you to know how important it is. First, it makes the liquid thicker. Second, it holds temperature. Third, you will need less seasoning because meats and vegetables are coated with the thick sauce. This cooking technique is called Ankake and is loved by Japanese people.
Don’t forget about mushrooms. Mushrooms are great to add volume to a dish without worrying about calories. Furthermore, mushrooms are good for intestinal flora because they are rich in insoluble dietary fiber. Unfortunately, we only have a limited selection of mushrooms at an American grocery store. They are white mushrooms or brown mushrooms. I found out that they are the same mushroom. When white mushrooms mature, they turn into brown mushrooms. Brown mushrooms are better for cooking because they have firmer texture and keep the shape better in the liquid. They are sold by the name of cremini mushroom or baby portabella mushroom.
Side 1: Broccoli and Cauliflower Warm Salad 29 calories
When it is cold outside, your body wants warm food rather than cold food. It is a good way to keep your body warm. And it is great for intestinal flora. Use fiber rich vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower. Steaming is the best cooking method when it comes to holding nutrients.
If you add tomato, it gives a nice color and acid flavor. More importantly, tomato is better for diet when cooked. Vitamins may be reduced by cooking. Instead, lycopene will be increased when cooked. Lycopene is an antioxidant and helps to increase the metabolism. Add simple seasoning to enjoy the flavor of each vegetable. By adding garlic and parmesan cheese, it makes a great Italian warm salad!
Lactic Acid Bacteria and Oligosaccharide
Eating yogurt with kinako (roasted soybean flour) is one of the popular ways to eat yogurt in Japan. Because lactic acid bacteria from yogurt is better when eaten with oligosaccharide in kinako. This recipe has a multiplier effect for lactic acid bacteria. Read more Sautéed Pork with Ginger Sauce to learn about multiplier effect. Furthermore, adding banana and honey, which are rich in Oligosaccharide, will maximize the benefit of lactic acid bacteria. And they taste much better together!
Kinako is roasted soybean flour and often used for Japanese sweets. Now it is marketed for daily consumption with yogurt and milk because of the health benefit. Kinako is rich in protein, dietary fiber, vitamin B1 & B2, calcium, potassium, zinc, and iron. Soybeans are not easy to eat by themselves. Kinako is roasted soybeans in the form of powder. Kinako is unique because it has isoflavone and saponin. It helps to strengthen the immune system and break down fats. It makes your body prone to lose weight. It has a nutty flavor and goes well with any type of food. You can purchase kinako at Japanese stores.
When You Should Eat Yogurt?
It may benefit you to eat yogurt at dinner time or after dinner. Intestines become the most active at night. Lactic acid bacteria promotes detoxing your body. By detoxing, it promotes bowel movements and blood flow. It improves the immune systems. And you will eat less because it is part of the 500 calories set meal. Also, this recipe is great as a dessert!
Lactic acid bacteria becomes active when the temperature is about 77 degree Fahrenheit (25 Celsius). So it is better to leave it at room temperature before serving. Place plain non-fat yogurt in a small bowl. Then add sliced bananas, sprinkle kinako and add honey when you serve. Enjoy!
Soup: Mizore (Grated Dikon) Miso Soup 50 calories
This soup has great ingredients to improve the intestinal flora. It has miso and sea vegetables. It also has daikon, green onion, and ginger. They are known as vegetables that warm your body.
We have an old saying “No doctor is needed if daikon-oroshi is eaten.” Dikon-oroshi is grated Japanese radish. My mom used to make dikon-oroshi every day because of that. Dikon-oroshi is a natural digestive aid. When you put in soup, we call it “mizore-shiru”. It means slushy snow soup. How fun!
If you like spicy daikon, use the bottom part (farther from the leaves). The bottom part is less juicy and is spicier. If the bottom part is too spicy, use the middle part. The middle part is proportioned with juiciness and mildness. The middle part is suitable for Nimono (simmered vegetables). The top part (closer to the leaves) is juicer and milder. It is suitable for salad. Keep in mind, grating daikon makes daikon spicier. Always grate a small amount to test the flavor.
Read more Grated Daikon and Spinach to learn about grated daikon.
100g of Steamed White Rice 160 calories
Each 500 calories set meal comes with 100g of steamed rice. You will need to cook rice in a rice cooker or in a heavy gage pot. And measure cooked rice for 100 grams. I will show you how to make your cooking life easier. Read more How To Cook And Store Japanese Rice.