Probiotics- what are they, why do we need them after antibiotics and can we find them naturally occurring in food?
What are probiotics?
Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that keep your gut healthy. They are great for your overall health, especially your digestive system as well as supporting immune system function. Although probiotics already occur in your body you can get their benefits through supplements and also through some fantastic natural alternatives.
Why do we need probiotics?
Probiotics are known as good bacteria and are used to reinstate diminished good bacteria into your system. For example, antibiotics decrease the amount of good bacteria in your digestive system and thus probiotics are used to help the cultivation of new good bacteria.
Probiotics also help move food through your digestive system and help to ease some health problems such as irritable bowel syndrome.
In what foods do they naturally occur?
Probiotics in your body can be topped up using supplements or through some natural options. Don’t worry about getting too much as there are no known risks to too many probiotics in your diet.
Yoghurt is the most well-known food with naturally occurring probiotics. Just one serving contains billions of bacteria. However, make sure you select your yoghurt wisely as some have contain more live cultures than others.
Originating in Russia and Turkey, this milky beverage is known as a better source of probiotics than yoghurt. Kefir is made by fermenting either goat, cow or sheep’s milk with kefir grains.
Pickles are another great source of probiotics. Those which are brined in water and salt instead of vinegar are the best. This is because those brined in vinegar will prevent the good bacteria from growing.
Packed full of probiotics, kombucha is made from a SCOBY or “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast”. It is a fermented tea-based drink that has a slightly fizzy character. Not only is it great for gut health but it has also been shown to assist with arthritis and depression amongst other things.
Made from fermented cabbage the right sauerkraut will have beneficial probiotics. To make sure the sauerkraut you choose is the right choice check if has been pasteurised. This is because, If it has been it will have destroyed the probiotics.
This delicious bread contains lactobacillus and is low glycemic index. So not only will you get some probiotics you will also feel fuller for longer!
Miso is made from soybeans that have been fermented with brown rice. Once again, the fermentation process is important to the amount of how many probiotics are contained in the paste. However, it is high in sodium, so it’s best to have sparingly.
Made by fermenting cooked soybeans, tempeh is similar to tofu. However it is slightly less processed than tofu and contains more protein, fibre and probiotic potential.