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 and fermented food are considered a powerful probiotic foods, meaning except for specific cases, the average person shouldn’t need supplemental microbes if they are eating a well-balanced diet!
Did you know that a diet rich in fermented foods promotes a healthy microbiome, strengthens immunity, tames inflammation, supports better digestion, elimination and even brain health?! What’s so amazing about fermented foods is that just a little goes a long way. A tablespoon or two added to your plate a few times a week will do the trick, adding millions of pro-health probiotic bacteria to your gut with every serving, so no massive dietary overhaul required.
Not sure where to start?
– Smoothies: Take advantage of the opportunity to add fermented foods to your morning routine, such as yogurt and fermented beet slices or a splash of fermented beet juice (or beet kvass) to a berry smoothie and give your gut some instant TLC.
– Eggs: Add flavor-and-good-fat kick to your morning eggs by scrambling them in grass-fed butter or ghee, then adding some heat with a dash of fermented chili sauce or paste.
– Soups and Salads: Change lunchtime soups and salads up with a fermented food ‘topping.’ Add in a spoonful or two of kefir into a veggie puree or toss a scoop of kimchi into a lunchtime salad to add personality – and probiotics — to your meal.
– Kombucha: Though kombucha should be a healthy drink, beware of the sugar content in many of the commercially made drinks. If your favorite brand has too much sugar, make yourself a refreshing ‘mocktail’ by mixing just an ounce or two of a bottled kombucha with 6 – 8 ounces of seltzer, plus a squeeze of lemon and a pinch of stevia and enjoy.
Not only is it easy and flavor enhancing to add fermented foods to your diet, you are also getting those super probiotic health benefits!⠀
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!
So, ARE You a Good Listener? 👂
“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.
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