About 15 years ago, Donna Schwenk became pregnant at age 40, and with that came diabetes and high blood pressure. Her baby was delivered premature with health problems, but a trip to a health food store changed her life.
"It not only made her well, it made me well," said Schwenk, owner of Cultured Food Life.
Schwenk found kefir, a fermented beverage that helped both her and her baby in a matter of weeks. She got busy reading studies, then recipes to make probiotic foods at home.
"I got rid of the diabetes, the blood pressure, all of the problems, started to heal my family," said Schwenk.
There are more bacteria than cells in the body, so eating foods with good bacteria has been shown to not only support the digestive system but other functions.
As we age, digestive issues and inflammation can increase. Schwenk suggests easy recipes to naturally increase probiotic intake.
"They actually help us breathe, help us digest our food, make vitamins, boost immune system," said Schwenk.
Schwenk's company "Cultured Food Life" offers recipes on how to make kefir, kombucha and cultured vegetables much cheaper than store bought.
Starter packets of live bacteria are needed, but the recipes couldn't be simpler and will last a lifetime if cared for.
She makes a vanilla bean frozen raspberry kombucha tea as a bubbly alternative to soda or even a cocktail.
Kefir added to nut butter is a thick creamy spread to enjoy.
For those lactose intolerant, she says after making a few batches of kefir with any nut milk the probiotic strain will no longer have a lactose issue.
Schwenk said if you're making kefir you want to make sure your milk has at least eight grams of carbohydrates per recipe because it's the sugar in the carbohydrates that helps feed the probiotic culture.