Wondering how to add probiotics to your diet for improved gut health? Try these!
Did you know that some forms of bacteria are essential to keep your body healthy, especially your gut? Probiotics are a blessing for your body, but they often don’t get the credit they deserve. How do they help? Well, probiotics work by changing the composition of your gut bacteria. We have good bacteria—probiotics—and bad, and when we ensure that the good bacteria is high in our gut, it prevents the bad from multiplying. And, since we know that the gut plays a direct role on our brain and other systems, it’s crucial to keep it healthy.
Benefits of probiotics
Probiotics are known for helping with good digestion. They can prevent harmful bacteria from causing inflammation and infections in the digestive tract. Certain probiotics can be trusted to help with irritable bowel syndrome and stomach ulcers. It helps reduce diarrhea and other allergies as well.
Not just the gut, but probiotics can be trusted to keep the brain and heart healthy as well. Probiotics can help reduce your bad cholesterol and keep your cholesterol maintained for better health. Certain types of probiotics man help relieve mental disorders as well, such as anxiety, stress and depression.
By fighting bad bacteria and keeping their production under control, probiotics help boost your immune system.
Here are seven probiotics that I recommend:
Who doesn’t love Yogurt? Yogurt is one of the easiest ways to get probiotics into your diet and luckily now you can find both dairy and plant-based options with added strains of probiotics. Something to note—most sugar yogurts don't have any probiotics, so read the label. Probiotics are measured in colony-forming units (CFUs), which represent the number of viable bacteria per dose. The probiotic content of yogurt is typically around 50 million CFU per serving.
Kefir is a fermented food that can be compared to a drinkable form of yogurt. It’s traditionally made from dairy milk, but you can find many plant-based options as well now. Apart from studies having shown that it may boost your immune system, improve bone health and aid digestion, it’s a powerful probiotic. Kefir is actually a more potent form of yogurt, so it contains even more probiotics, coming in with up to 61 strains of bacteria and yeasts and up to 10 billion CFU per serving (compared to 50 million in yogurt)!
Getting more popular by the day, this drink—which originated in Asia—is a fermented black or green tea drink. It has a certain kick to it due to its unique taste and doe wonders for your gut too. Kombucha has become a cult-favorite in the last few years, and for good reason—it has 10 billion CFU per gram.
Pickles are a great source of healthy probiotic bacteria. But, many store-bought everyday pickles are not actually fermented. Most pickles are just “pickled” and not fermented—what’s the difference? While both create a sour taste, pickled foods are sour because they are soaked in acidic brine, while fermentation happens because of a chemical reaction between naturally present sugars and bacteria, also giving a sour taste as well. But, not all pickles are fermented. There's a myth that eating pickles from the shelf are probiotic, but most aren't. Look for jars that say that they are fermented and labeled probiotic or make your own at home. There are some non-refrigerated version but most of the time, grocery stores refrigerate them. While fermented pickles are great for the gut, they are also low in calories and a good source of vitamin K, an essential nutrient for blood clotting. Keep in mind that pickles also tend to be high in sodium, so watch out for that. When fermented correctly, pickles generally have about 12- 14 Billion CFUs.
Cheese, especially cottage cheese
From cottage cheese to aged cheese, some forms of cheeses have a great probiotic content, making them a fabulous breakfast and snacking option. Cheese is either aged or made from raw, unpasteurized milk, and if you want to ensure you’re getting one with probiotics make sure you don’t heat/cook it and choose raw and unpasteurized cheese. One of my favorite breakfasts or snacks is cottage cheese with frozen blueberries, which is rich in protein, probiotics and fiber. Cheese typically contains L. acidophilus, B. bifidum, and 4 strains of lactic cultures.
Raw green peas
This is one you may not have heard of: green peas, which have been newly discovered as a probiotic in 2013. Japanese researchers found that green peas contain Leuconostoc mesenteroides, a strain of probiotic bacteria, which is crucial for gut and immune health. Remember, eat them raw—add them to your kid’s lunches or top on a salad.
Fermented cabbage, also known as sauerkraut has a tangy, sour taste. While many of the store-bought sauerkraut is not raw and doesn't contain probiotics, if you look in the refrigerated section of your grocery store, you’re likely to find sauerkraut that is fermented and contains probiotics. Sauerkraut contains about 1,000–100 million CFUs per gram.