Trust Yo’ Gut
Everything you need to know about probiotics- MP Edition 014
Probiotics are key to a happy gut and also have many overall health benefits. But what exactly are probiotics and how do they help you?
What are probiotics?
Similar to your vaginal environment, your gut’s full of bacteria - both good and bad. Probiotics are the good guys. To get technical, they’re live microorganisms that can be consumed through fermented foods or supplements. Probiotics help keep your gut healthy by maintaining the delicate balance between good and bad bacteria and essentially help your body function the way it’s supposed to, keeping you from feeling sick or ill.
Benefits of probiotics
While probiotics’ most well-known job is to maintain the balance of your gut, these hard-working bacteria also have a wide range of health benefits. Probiotics have been reported to help with:Digestive disorders: Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), ulcerative colitis, necrotizing enterocolitis DiarrheaMental health: depression, anxiety, and stressHeart problemsAllergies and coldsSkin conditions like eczemaWeight lossImmune systemUrinary and vaginal health: bacterial vaginosis (BV), yeast infections, trichomoniasis, urinary tract infections (UTI), Lactose intolerance,Oral health.
Types of probiotics
There are many types of probiotics, and they all have different benefits. The most common is called lactobacillus, which is what you'll find in yogurt and other fermented foods. In addition to foods, probiotics can also be consumed in supplements.
Many fermented foods have probiotic benefits, and you’d be pleasantly surprised at what foods that you can incorporate into your diet every day.
Made from milk fermented by good bacteria, yogurt is one of the well-known sources of probiotics. But read the labels clearly, not all yogurt contains live or active probiotics - some live bacteria may be killed during production.
Kefir is a fermented probiotic milk drink made by adding kefir grains to cow or goat milk. It contains lots of good bacteria and yeast, making kefir one of the best probiotic sources.
Sauerkraut is finely shredded cabbage fermented by lactic acid bacteria. Make sure to choose unpasteurized sauerkraut, as pasteurization kills live and active probiotics.
Tempeh is a fermented soybean product that is also a popular substitute for meat because it contains a decent amount of vitamin B12 (a nutrient found in animal products).
Kimchi is a fermented, spicy Korean side dish usually made with cabbage but can also be made from other veggies.
Miso is a Japanese seasoning traditionally made by fermenting soybeans with salt and a fungus called koji but can also be mixed with barley, rice, and rye.
Kombucha is a black or green tea drink fermented by good bacteria and yeast.
Pickles are cucumbers that have been pickled in a salt and water solution and left to ferment for some time. But note that pickles made with vinegar doesn't contain live probiotics.
Like tempeh and miso, Natto is a fermented soybean product. It contains a high amount of vitamin K2, which may help prevent osteoporosis and heart attacks.
Although most types of cheese are fermented, not all of them have probiotics. They’re found in gouda, mozzarella, cheddar, and cottage cheese.
Eating any of the above fermented foods is one way to reap the benefits of probiotics, but you can also get them from supplements as well. However, keep in mind that the risk with probiotic supplements is that it’s not regulated by the FDA because it’s technically not considered a drug. Probiotics bought at pharmacies or supplement stores may not be the best quality. Always do your research or speak to your doctor if you’re not certain.
Probiotic side effects
The effects of probiotics depend on the amount taken and vary from person to person. Eating foods with probiotics is usually safe for most people but check with your doctor if you’re not sure or have a condition, disease, or an allergy to be safe. So, TLDR: probiotics are good bacteria that help keep your gut and digestive system healthy. They also have a plethora of benefits for everything from your immune system to your skin to your mental health. Probiotics can be found in many fermented foods that can be incorporated into your daily diet as well as supplements.