The gut is a very important organ system in the body. It’s responsible for digestion of food as well as the absorption of nutrients. When the gut is healthy, your overall health and wellbeing will also be fine. However, an unhealthy gut can quickly throw you off balance. A key element that’s important for maintaining gut health is probiotics. This article gives an overview of these microorganisms and where you can find them.

What Are Probiotics?

These are live microorganisms which help to improve general health. Consuming foods which have high amounts of probiotics help to restore the important gut flora. The human body, especially the digestive tract, needs these microorganisms in order to function effectively. Generally, probiotics are safe. However, there are some rare instances where they can result in bacteria-host interactions and other unwanted effects.

How Do They Work?

These are live bacteria as well as yeasts which are mainly found in the digestive system. Most people think bacteria cause bad germs which cause diseases. However, there are good bacteria such as probiotics. They are helpful in a number of ways, particularly promoting gut health. But how exactly do they work? 

At the moment, researchers are still trying to figure out how these beneficial bacteria work. However, some of the methods which they use to promote the effectiveness of the gut health include: 

  1. Replacing lost bacteria: when you take antibiotics, you may end up losing the good bacteria as well. So, taking foods are supplements which contain probiotics is essential in replacing the good bacteria in the body. 
  2. Balancing bacteria: probiotics helps to balance both the good and bad bacteria. This way, they ensure that the body effectively works as it should be.

Types of Probiotics

There are many types of probiotics and they have different effects on the body. You can get them from food. Besides that, you can also get them from supplements. The most common types of probiotics include: 

  • Lactobacillus: it’s the most common type of probiotic. Lactobacillus is found mainly in fermented foods including yogurt. This probiotic helps to improve digestive health and ease diarrhea. 
  • Bifidobacterium: it is found mainly dairy products. Bifidobacterium can help to treat digestive problems such as irritable bowel syndrome.
  • Saccharomyces boulardii: this is a type of yeast that’s found in probiotics. It’s effective in improving the digestive health including fighting diarrhea.

Healthy Probiotic Foods

There are numerous approaches to boosting probiotic intake. One of them is by eating healthy foods with high probiotic content.  Some of the food products which contain a high number of these microorganisms include:

Yogurt

It’s the most popular source of probiotics. Yogurt has high numbers of these friendly bacteria. This food product contains milk which is fermented by friendly bacteria i.e. Bifidobacterium and lactic acid bacteria. Consuming yogurt provides the body with a wide range of health benefits. In kids, yogurt has the ability to reduce the effects of diarrhea resulting from using antibiotics. In adults, it can help to regulate blood pressure and enhance bone health.

Traditional Buttermilk

Traditional buttermilk is the leftover liquid that remains from making butter. It contains high amounts of probiotics which are also referred to as “grandma probiotics.” This type of buttermilk is very popular in Pakistan, Nepal, and India. However, you can also find them in American supermarkets.

Probiotics

Kombucha

This is fermented green or black tea. Kombucha contains a friendly colony of yeast and bacteria. Although this drink is mainly popular in Asia, you can still purchase it online. The friendly bacteria and yeast have a wide range of health benefits including improving digestive health.

Tempeh

It is a fermented soybean product. Tempeh has a nutty or earthy flavor that has similarities to mushroom. Although it’s popular in Indonesia, it is quickly becoming one of the top alternatives of high-protein meat globally. It’s one of the best milk alternative recipes for vegetarians.

Miso

This is a type of Japanese seasoning.  Miso is made from fermented soybeans and koi, a type of fungus. It contains high amounts of probiotics and you can buy it in varieties such as brown, red, white, and yellow. This seasoning contains high amounts of fiber and protein. In addition to that, it also a mineral and vitamin product. Miso contains manganese, copper, vitamin K, and others.

Kefir

This is a fermented probiotic milk drink. Kefir grains are cultures of yeast and lactic acid bacteria. This drink has numerous health benefits. Apart from improving digestive problems, it can protect the body against infections. In addition to those, kefir can enhance bone strength. This is another great source of probiotic that’s usually used in place of yogurt. 

Apart from those, there are also milk recipe alternatives that you can use. Simply make sure that these alternatives are safe for your health.

General Benefits of Probiotics 

  • They help to improve the digestion process 
  • A stronger immune system 
  • They promote weight loss.
  • Lowering the chances of developing cold and flu.
  • Increasing energy production in the body.
  • They help to develop healthier skin by reducing symptoms of dermatological problems such as psoriasis and eczema.
  • Probiotics lead to better breath by destroying candida.
  • Reducing symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease and healing leaky gut.

Boosting Probiotic Intake 

  • Adding probiotic-rich food items such as sauerkraut as side dish. 
  • Consuming probiotic-rich beverages like Kombucha and kefir as snacks. 
  • Instead of eating meat, replace it with tempeh. 
  • Taking yogurt for breakfast in conjunction with nuts, flax seeds, and berries.

Final Thoughts

Probiotics help to balance the level of microorganisms in the intestines. They are beneficial in eliminating harmful bacteria along the gut. This is important in enhancing the body’s immune functions in fighting infections. To ensure that your body functions efficiently, make sure that you incorporate foods which have high probiotic content in your diet.

Sources 

  • https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/anti-nutrients/lectins/ 
  • https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods-high-in-lectins#section8
  • https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Probiotics-HealthProfessional/
  • https://nccih.nih.gov/health/probiotics/introduction.htm 

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