From the day probiotics were introduced to consumers, a lot have wondered what the big fuss is about it. Even you, at one point, have probably wondered about why it is important to you and what it can contribute to your well-being overall.
What are probiotics? Simply put, they are live bacteria that benefit your digestive system. Yup, you heard that right. Bacteria has always been seen as a clear antagonist when it comes to people’s health. In this case however, it takes on a new role and does your body a lot of good.
Understanding How Probiotics Work
Your body contains different kinds of bacteria – both good and bad. Probiotics also naturally occur in your body as the good guys, the helpful kind of bacteria.
As your body changes, the tendency to lose good bacteria also increases. When you take antibiotics for example, you do not only lose the bad guys, you lose the good stuff as well.
This is where probiotics come in. Probiotics work on replacing the good bacteria that you lose and help bring balance into your body once again.
These probiotics come in two major forms – Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. Lactobacillus is the most common form, and is often found in yogurt and in other kinds of fermented food. Bifidobacterium, on the other hand, is found in a lot of dairy products.
What Probiotics Do for You
The major role that probiotics play is to help food move more efficiently through your entire digestive tract. It’s a great solution for irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, infectious diarrhea and antibiotic-related diarrhea.
The great thing about probiotics is that it is not just limited to your tummy. Although their benefits are largely related to your digestive system, they also help in other areas of the body.
Research shows that they are also beneficial in dealing with skin conditions like eczema, preventing colds and allergies, maintaining vaginal and urinary health, as well as improving oral health.
How to Stock Up on Probiotics
Although there are common sources of probiotics, there are other sources that you may not have realized, or have never heard about your entire lives.
Although there are probiotic supplements that you can take AND SHOULD, it also helps to include some sources of probiotics into your diet to ensure that you are able to maximize its benefits.
Probably the most popular source of probiotics, it delivers tens of billions of bacteria for every serving. It’s all about knowing how to read the labels, a habit you should form if you want to get the best bang for your buck.
Some brands put even more cultures of bacteria than the others. To be absolutely sure you’re getting the good stuff, look for the National Yogurt Association seal confirming that the product you’re holding has at least 100 million cultures for each gram.
A lot of people see this as just a Korean side dish, but little do they know that it actually does wonders for your digestive system. Made of fermented cucumber, cabbage or radish, you can use kimchi in sandwiches, soup, or just about anything you stir-fry.
Just make sure you add them last, as cooking it too much will kill the good bacteria, which defeats the purpose. It’s also low calorie fiber, so you know for a fact that this is one healthy addition to your diet.
- Sour Pickles
Bet you had no idea that pickles also have a generous amount of probiotics just waiting to be let out. Just make sure you choose the ones that have been brined in sea salt and water instead of vinegar, as vinegar actually keeps the bacteria from growing.
You can even go for pickle juice as this does not only give you a powerful dose of probiotics, it gives you a generous amount of electrolytes as well.
Sauerkrauts do not only work well for those hoping to top their sausages, it also works well for those seeking great sources of probiotics. Of course, you would have to avoid those that have been pasteurized as this process kills the good bacteria.
Again, check the label and go for unpasteurized options. If you’re pregnant, make sure you get approval from your doctor first.
A tangy toast, sourdough actually carries a generous serving of lactobacillus simply because the sourdough starter that it is made of functions the same way as yeast.
It also scores quite low on the glycemic index, which means that it helps you feel full for a longer period of time, unlike other kinds of bread that only give you a temporary spike of energy that you also lose quite quickly.
If you’re always bothered by how your digestive system works, start stocking up on these different types of food.
Not only will they give you more ideas for new meals to try out, they would also give you a healthy dose of probiotics that would keep your tummy in check all the time.