Did you know that those little critters in your gut affect your general health-mental, emotional and physical? These microorganisms residing in your intestinal tract have a direct influence on your energy level, body weight and even in nutrient absorption. This is the reason why foods with probiotics are highly valuable.
What Exactly are Probiotics?
Probiotics are the beneficial type of gut bacteria that stimulate the production of digestive enzymes to maintain proper function of digestive organs.
There are different types of friendly bacteria inside the body:
- Bifidobacterium bifidum
- Bacillus subtilis
- Lactobacillus acidophilus
- Lactobacillus bulgaricus
- Lactobacillus reuteri
- Saccharomyces boulardii
- Streptococcus thermophilus
Historically, our diet was rich in probiotics from eating whole, fresh, unprocessed foods from rich soil and through fermentation of food to prevent spoilage. But today, due to refrigeration and harmful agricultural practices, our food holds little to no probiotics and some even contain antibiotics, destroying the good bacteria in our bodies. By increasing your intake of probiotics, you can enjoy all these health benefits:
- Better digestion
- Stronger immune system
- Weight loss
- Increase in energy level
- Healthier, clearer skin
- Healing from leaky gut and other inflammatory bowel diseases
- Better nutrient absorption
If you want to enjoy all these benefits, it is time to start eating these probiotic foods.
7 Highly Recommended Dietary Probiotics
Especially the handmade, live-cultured yogurt. Most of the yogurt products in the grocery stores actually contain added sugars, artificial sweeteners, high-fructose corn syrup and even dyes, which are not good for your health. Look for brands that are made from goat’s milk, infused with live cultures and zero sugar.
Goat’s milk is a rich in protein, minerals, and vitamins while having lower allergenicity and better digestibility than cow’s milk. Goat milk yogurt is high in probiotics such as bifidus, thermophiles, and bulgaricus and may be added with extra types of probiotics such as acidophilus and lactobacillus.
Aside from goat milk yogurt, another option to choose is a fermented organic milk yogurt from grass-fed cows. This is rich in vitamins, enzymes, zinc and healthy fats.
This fermented dairy probiotic is a combination of milk and fermented kefir grains –a yeast/bacterial fermentation starter that looks like a gelatinous yellow or white particle. Kefir can be made from sheep, goat or cow’s milk, or even rice or coconut milk. The grains contain the bacterial culture and in the fermentation process, introduce these live organisms into the milk to develop a cultured product. The grains are strained and added to a new set of milk.
Yogurt and kefir contain different forms of friendly bacteria. There are some strains of probiotics in kefir that are not present in yogurt, including friendly yeasts that can support gut health and antioxidants. The probiotics in yogurt ‘feed’ the good gut bacteria and nourish the digestive tract, but the probiotics in kefir can actually colonize the intestinal tract.
Fermented Vegetables (Kimchi and Sauerkraut).
Made from fermented cabbage, including other vegetables, sauerkraut is rich in live culture and organic acids, giving the food its distinct sour taste. This popular German probiotic food also provides Vitamins A, B, C and K.
The Asian version of pickled vegetable, Kimchi is an extremely spicy and sour fermented cabbage, commonly served as a side dish in Korea. Some Koreans won’t consider a meal complete without Kimchi. Aside from beneficial bacteria, this spicy cultured veggie is also rich in Vitamin B, C, beta-carotene, iron, calcium, dietary fiber, and potassium.
A form of fermented black tea that contains a high amount of friendly gut bacteria. This probiotic drink is started using SCOBY – Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast. Kombucha tea has been around more than 2000 years. Originated from Japan, it is believed to boost your energy, help you lose weight and enhance your overall wellbeing.
A popular Japanese seasoning, miso is made by fermenting soybeans with koji, a type of fungus and salt. When added to hot water, it makes miso soup, which is a mainstay of traditional Japanese medicine and macrobiotic cooking. Miso soup is a nutrient-dense meal that is rich in high-quality probiotic bacteria and is believed to help counteract the effects of pollution, inhibit the effects of carcinogens and alkalinize the body.
This fermented, probiotic food is made from soybeans and is a great substitute for tofu or meat. It is a good source of Vitamin B12 and can be prepared in various ways – baked, sautéed or eaten raw on salads. Tempeh forms a firm patty and many people described the flavor as earthy, nutty or similar to a mushroom.
Originally from Indonesia, tempeh has become known as a high protein meat substitute. An interesting fermentation byproduct is that the bacteria produce Vitamin B12, an essential nutrient that soybeans don’t contain and is mainly found in animal foods. This makes tempeh a top choice for vegetarians and those seeking to increase their dietary probiotic intake.
Traditionally, buttermilk is the liquid left after making butter. When the good bacteria feed on milk sugar, they produce lactic acid, which makes the acidic, tangy taste. In this process, the casein in buttermilk makes the milk slightly thicker. The name of buttermilk is actually misleading since it doesn’t contain butter. In fact, its fat content is low.
The good bacteria present in cultured buttermilk are highly beneficial and support weight loss and a healthy digestive tract. People sensitive to lactose can drink cultured buttermilk. This probiotic beverage is an excellent ingredient when making smoothies.
Enjoy the Immune Boosting Benefits of Probiotic Foods
If you want to strengthen your immunity and ease gastrointestinal distress, any of the natural probiotic sources could give you some relief. There’s still a lot more of healthy probiotic foods you can eat. If you cannot eat any of these foods, you may choose to take a probiotic supplement. Probiotics, whether from the food you eat or from supplements, can have a great effect on your health.
About the Author
Saif is a digital marketing expert at Healthy-Finds.com, a company committed to imparting the knowledge and access that people need for a long and healthy life.