Probiotics are the helpful bacteria that live inside of your body. By fighting against harmful bacteria they are able to create a healthy balance that keeps you feeling your best.
These friendly bacteria are best known for their ability to prevent and treat indigestion, constipation, and diarrhea. But they aren’t a one-trick pony!
Beyond just working in your gut and keeping your digestive system healthy, probiotics give your entire immune system a boost while even helping you to lose weight and manage stress!
It might sound too good to be true but a bacterial balance is truly at the core of good health. Studies have shown that probiotics have a huge range of benefits and can help you reduce allergies, eczema, oral health conditions, obesity, stress, diarrhea, upset stomach, lactose digestion, irritable bowel syndrome, urinary tract infections, and inflammatory bowel disease.
Not bad, eh?
Now that you know about what probiotics can do, you are probably itching to add more to your diet. Well, here is some good news!
Unlike so many other health trends, it is easy and cheap to add probiotics to your diet. In fact, many of us are already consuming them almost every day whether you realize it or not.
But hey, we can all do with some more, right?
Especially since when it comes to probiotics, most doctors recommend somewhere in the range of 1 billion to 2 billion CFUs per day. That’s a lot of friendly bacteria! It is enough work to count calories, say nothing of tracking the billions of probiotics that you are chowing down on.
But no pressure – probiotics intake is about moving slowly and trusting your gut. Just like increasing your fiber intake, it’s important to not do too much too soon. Focus on adding probiotics-rich foods slowly but regularly into your everyday meals.
Here are a few easy, delicious probiotic foods you can add to your diet to get you started.
Probiotic Foods: Yogurt
Of course, you knew this one was coming – good old yogurt is hands down the most popular and well-known source of probiotics. And it’s been around pretty much since humans discovered how to domesticate livestock (yea, since like 10,000 BC)!
And it still reigns supreme in the probiotic foods world but it’s not a simple story. The fermentation process of yogurt is done by only two specific anaerobic bacteria strains and then additional live cultures are often added for their probiotic benefits. But – and this is a big but – while many yogurts do contain probiotics, not every type is created equally.
Probiotics are incredibly sensitive and pasteurization kills these delicate, friendly bacteria. This means some of the yogurts in your local supermarket are void of probiotics. In fact, unless your yogurt is specifically labeled as containing probiotics, you might not be getting anything more than a kick of calcium.
So when in doubt, always read the labels and especially be on the lookout for the National Yogurt Association’s “Live & Active Cultures” seal, which certifies that the yogurt in question has at least 100 million cultures per gram, or 20 billion per eight-ounce serving.
Probiotic Foods: Sourdough Bread
Probiotics…in bread? Sounds too good to be true, but better believe it!
To add a dash of probiotics to your sandwich, make it with sourdough bread! The lactic acid starter that is used to make this tasty dough contains strains of the probiotic lactobacillus.
On top of being great for your gut, it also has a much lower glycemic index than other breads, which means that it won’t give you that dreaded blood sugar spike.
Probiotic Foods: Cultured Condiments
This is definitely one of the most exciting food trends in years. Some genius out there came up with the idea of making a probiotic-rich alternative to our everyday basic condiments like salad dressing, chutney, salsa, relish, sour cream mayo, mustard, ketchup, and whatever else you’ve been putting on your sandwich.
What an absolutely brilliant way to take the delicious but sugar-and-preservative-packed sauces and jams and transform them into healthy concoctions that boost your gut bacteria!
They taste exactly the same (and sometimes better!) but are packed with probiotics. You’ll see pre-packaged versions popping up all over natural food stores and you can make your own as well. More or less, you just follow the same traditional recipes for your favorite condiments then add in a culture starter to get the probiotics going.
Another interesting read: 7 best probiotics to pack for every trip
Probiotic Foods: Ghee
This Indian cuisine mainstay is a delicious and healthy source of fat. It is packed with Omega 3 and Omega 9 essential fatty acids and vitamins A, D, E, and K.
Because it is made by melting butter and removing the milk solids, it’s the perfect alternative to butter for people who have an intolerance to dairy. On top of that, this tastier-than-butter treat will you a hearty dose of probiotics.
Use it instead of butter – you’ll be surprised by how good probiotics can taste.
Probiotic Foods: Unpasteurized Cheese
It’s easy to find probiotic-rich cheese if you know where to look. The key here is to find cheese that has been made from raw, unpasteurized milk. This type of cheese will always advertise its qualities loud and clear on the label. Look for phrases like “good source of probiotics” or “made from raw milk”.
Cheese varieties like cheddar, edam, provolone, feta, and gouda are all potentially great sources of probiotics if they are made from raw, unpasteurized milk. As a bonus, these cheese are all excellent sources of calcium, protein, phosphorus, and zinc as well as vitamins A and B12.
Probiotic Foods: Pickles
Pickles are another great source of probiotics but they are also another one to be careful with. If you make your own pickles, good for you! Pickles are an excellent source of vitamins A and K, iron, potassium, manganese, fiber, and calcium. If they are homemade, they are also a perfect low-calorie way to add probiotics to your diet.
On the other hand, if you buy your pickles from a plain old grocery store, they probably aren’t doing much for you. Remember when we talked about that pesky pasteurization issue? If your pickles are sitting at room temp, they are pasteurized and the probiotics are gone. This is one time where it really is important to get them straight for a maker.
Don’t confuse the vinegar-soaked cucumbers that you’ll buy from a big box store with the natural pickles that have been fermented using their own natural probiotics.
These probiotic foods are easy-peasy to add to your daily diet – in fact, you’re probably already getting a healthy serving of them whether you know it or not.
But if and when you’re ready to branch out, there’s a whole realm of probiotic foods from around the world to chow down on!
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