You’ve probably heard the word “probiotics” thrown around when talking about ways to stay healthy, but do you know what they are? Let’s talk about probiotics!
What are probiotics?
Probiotics are live microorganisms intended to provide health benefits such as improving and restoring gut flora when consumed or applied to the body. The most common are bacteria that belong to groups called Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. Other bacteria such as Saccharomyces boulardii may also be used as a probiotic. The National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) found that probiotics were the third most commonly used dietary supplement other than vitamins and minerals.
Where can I find probiotics?
In a study performed by Harvard Medical School, there are two ways to get good bacteria into your gut: fermented foods and dietary supplements. However, Frontiers in Microbiology found that fresh produce is considered a probiotic food, meaning except for specific cases, the average person shouldn’t need supplemental microbes if they are eating a well-balanced diet.
The most interesting discovery was that the average apple contains about 100 million bacteria from many different taxa in just the core itself – as opposed to the probiotic-supplement pills, which tend to be only one type of bacteria. In further research, it was found that organic apples contain a more diverse and distinct microbiota, compared to conventional ones; the abundance of almost 40% of bacterial genera and orders differed significantly between organically and conventionally managed apples. Organic apples were found to feature favorable health effects for the consumer, the host plant, and the environment in contrast to conventional apples, which were found to harbor potential food-borne pathogens. Many other fruits, vegetables, and yogurts contain probiotics as well.
The best probiotics are those found naturally, so in summary, eat the rainbow – as organically and naturally as possible!
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“Copyright © 2019 National Academy of Sciences. All Rights Reserved.” Dietary Reference Intakes for Electrolytes And Water, 8 Oct. 2018, www.nationalacademies.org/hmd/Activities/Nutrition/DRIElectrolytes.aspx.
Hamblin, James. “The Best Probiotics.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 8 Aug. 2019, www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2019/08/probitoic-foods/595687/?utm_source=feed&fbclid=IwAR2LzalMqwKIOsYj6RjzTCRgEHF0OKSBCd-vNAYKPmSBMpW9Y3mj2C0LNIU.
Harvard Health Publishing. “Health Benefits of Taking Probiotics.” Harvard Health, www.health.harvard.edu/vitamins-and-supplements/health-benefits-of-taking-probiotics.
“Probiotics: In Depth.” National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 21 Aug. 2019, www.nccih.nih.gov/health/probiotics/introduction.htm.
Wassermann, et al. “An Apple a Day: Which Bacteria Do We Eat With Organic and Conventional Apples?” Frontiers, Frontiers, 2 July 2019, www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmicb.2019.01629/full.