In part one of our interview series, we introduced you to Chef Hans Rueffert whose stage 3 gastric cancer led to him losing his entire stomach, changing the way he eats forever, an irony not lost on him considering his career. Since Hans has no stomach, his food literally fast tracks through his system making him instantly aware of what makes him feel good or bad, which led him to add probiotics to his diet.
Here, Hans’ take on how to add probiotics to your diet:
I had a partial gastrectomy, and then a full gastrectomy. All surgeries, even non-major gastric surgeries, affect the gut flora, so you must rebuild those gut bacteria to get the benefits of your food. Foods rich in probiotics is a great way to do that.
Probiotics are found in fermented foods like yogurt and kefir, and you can also find them in cultured sour cream and cream cheese. If probiotics are part of the equation, the packaging will always say “contains live and active cultures” and it will need to be refrigerated.
So many products now say, “contains yogurt,” but they are shelf-stable. While they are not lying, the Greek yogurt was added to the product before it was processed, which was then brought to temperature to make it shelf-stable, killing off the good bacteria. People must understand that once you raise foods above a certain temperature, you are killing off those bacteria, which is what you are actually looking for.
One thing I’ve learned from other cultures, such as the Persian culture, is that they always eat a live, fresh component with every meal. When I’ve asked why they are doing this, I’m told it’s to aid digestion. For example, they will have fermented cheese with meals. They’re not thinking about the bacteria, but they are having it, as they have the probiotic connection. Indian food is similar. Incorporate fermented foods that contain good bacteria whenever you can. With a name like Hans, my favorite probiotic food has to be sauerkraut. You can buy dead sauerkraut in a jar that is shelf-stable, but this will not give you the full benefits that fresh, refrigerated sauerkraut has. The same goes for kimchi, grab your kimchi from the refrigerated section. If you’re not already incorporating probiotics into your diet, give them a try.