The term probiotic comes from the Latin or Greek pro, “before, forward”, and bios, or “life”. In this case, we use the term probiotics to refer to beneficial bacteria.
We have billions of friendly bacteria living in our digestive tract. If you extracted all of the microbes that live in your body, you’d have over a quart of sludge. Friendly bacteria help us digest our food and absorb nutrients effectively. In a sense, we don’t actually digest many components of our food, the bacteria digest it. Also, probiotics are living organisms that are found naturally in foods such as yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, and kefir. They are known as ‘good’ or ‘friendly’ bacteria as they compete for space and food against harmful bacteria and prevent them from settling in the gut.
The secret to restoring your digestive health is all about balancing out the good and bad bacteria in your gut. If you’re going to be healthy, you must consider consuming probiotic-rich foods and supplements daily. Following are some of the benefits of consuming probiotic-rich foods and supplements:
Consuming probiotics really can reduce your body weight and body mass index. Ingesting more than one type of probiotic and taking them for 8 weeks or more results in the greatest amount of weight loss. Probiotics can improve your blood sugar control and affect sensitivity to leptin (a hormone that helps regulate appetite.) This is the key for anyone struggling with type 2 diabetes.
Skin woes like psoriasis, eczema, and rosacea can be bothersome, to say the least, but the right strains of probiotics can help. It goes back to that whole idea of inflammation. And since some skin conditions like other health issues stem from inflammation, minimizing it can be a skin savior.
Sick and tired of being sick and tired? Research has shown less incidence of upper respiratory infection after the use of probiotics. And it makes sense why: Since probiotics are a better type of bacteria, they can help prevent infection from the more dangerous kinds, making sure you have a better balance of bacteria can also ward off issues like the cold and flu.
Stuffed up? The research found that allergy sufferers who took a supplement of a probiotic once a day for 8 weeks was far less sniffly two months down the road than those who didn’t. The people on probiotics also had lower levels of pro-inflammatory markers.
Research suggests that probiotics can help lower levels of depression, stress, and anxiety. Experts aren’t sure why the good bacteria/good mood link exists, but think it could have to do with something called the gut-brain axis signaling between your GI tract and your nervous system.
Foods Containing Probiotics
When buying yogurt, a fermented milk product that is made from cow’s milk, soy milk, or nut milk (e.g., almond milk) look for the words “live and active cultures” on the container to ensure that it packs a probiotic punch. Add yogurt to smoothies, top it with your favorite fruit, or enjoy it straight up.
This thick and tangy yogurt-like beverage contains a wide variety of probiotic bacteria and 11g of protein per cup. Kefir is made by adding kefir grains to milk, which causes fermentation to occur. Have a cup of kefir as an on-the-go breakfast, or add to your cereal instead of milk. Look for kefir in the dairy or natural-foods section of your grocery store; it’s available in plain and fruit flavors.
The fizzy, naturally fermented, probiotic drink originated in England in the 1800s. While ginger beer is considered non-alcoholic because it contains less than 0.5% alcohol, it does have a small amount of booze from the fermentation process. Find the soda alternative in the beverage section of your grocery store.
Sauerkraut is finely shredded cabbage that has been fermented by lactic acid bacteria. It is one of the oldest traditional foods and is popular in many countries, especially in Europe. In addition to its probiotic qualities, sauerkraut is rich in fiber, as well as vitamins C, B and K. It is also high in sodium and contains iron and manganese. However, make sure to choose unpasteurized sauerkraut. Pasteurization kills the live and active bacteria.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Great for controlling blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes and even weight loss, apple cider vinegar is a great daily addition that will bring many benefits including providing probiotics. Drink a small bit each day or use it as a salad dressing.
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