Probiotics are microorganisms that have a beneficial effect on health. The gastrointestinal tract and genitourinary tract are teeming with bacteria and other microorganisms. Some are good, some are bad, and what we consume can have a significant impact on these organisms. Here are a few tips to help maintain a probiotic-friendly diet:
High-quality probiotic supplements are a good option for anyone looking for a guaranteed intake of beneficial bacteria. More recently, condition, age, and gender-specific probiotic formulations are available on store shelves. For example:
- ReliefBiotic: a multi-strain, shelf-stable formula that contains specific probiotic strains that may help boost healthy digestion and balance of healthy bacteria after antibiotic use.*
- CalmBiotic: an innovative, shelf-stable formula featuring Lactobacillus helveticus R0052 and Bifidobacterium longum R0175, two proprietary strains shown to reduce symptoms of normal, everyday stress and enhance mood.*
- Ultimate Probiotic Seniors: an age-specific formula that provides eight bifidobacteria and lactobacilli species for targeted support of both the small and large intestines.* These bacteria species appear to decline naturally after the age of 50.
- Ultimate Probiotic Women’s Formula with CranRich: a source of probiotics and cranberry 36:1 concentrate to help support urinary tract health.*
Probiotic foods contain live organisms that can benefit human health, contributing to a healthy microbiome, supporting digestive health, immune function, and overall wellbeing*. Probiotics also synthesize essential vitamins the body cannot produce itself and can create a favorable healthy bacteria environment. Probiotic foods are readily available and can provide a variety of nutrients as well as beneficial bacteria. Support your digestive health by adding the following foods to a few of your meals every week:
Fermented cabbage might not sound all that appetizing but give it a try! The sour, salty taste might be a pleasant flavor surprise. A staple of many Eastern European diets, sauerkraut is a source of vitamins and live probiotic cultures. However, it's typical for the sauerkraut in large grocery stores to be pasteurized, which kills active good bacteria along with the bad. So, look for sauerkraut with live cultures at local markets or smaller health food stores.
Live-cultured yogurt is an excellent probiotic food. It often containsLactobacillus acidophilusand bifidobacteria, which can support digestion and general health. Dairy-free yogurts have come a long way in recent years, with probiotic almond, cashew, coconut, and soy yogurts now available. Choose unsweetened probiotic yogurts to avoid increasing your sugar intake.
Not only is miso a staple food in Japan, but it's also popular in macrobiotic diets. Miso is chock-full of Lactobacillus and bifidobacteria, two probiotic strains found in the small and large intestines respectively. While miso is commonly made from fermented soybeans, it can also be made from rice, barley, and rye. A source of B vitamins and other nutrients, miso is perfect for making umami-rich, low-calorie soups. It's also a great ingredient for delicious stews and marinades.
Pickles can be an excellent probiotic food. However, as with sauerkraut, many store-bought pickles have been pasteurized and don't contain live cultures. So, make sour pickles at home instead! It's a straightforward process, and only involves a little time, brine, and some spices.
Made from fermented soybeans, tempeh is a source of probiotics and protein. It is nutty and mushroom-like in taste and is delicious. You can marinate it in coconut oil, maple syrup, or liquid smoke for a tasty bacon alternative. You can also sauté or bake tempeh to use as a tasty addition to a veggie stir fry, or as an unexpected salad topper.
Like sauerkraut, kimchi is a type of fermented cabbage that is typically spicy and sour. In Korean cuisine, kimchi is eaten alongside meals to aid digestion and as a source of vitamins A, C, B1, and B2, as well as beta-carotene, calcium, and iron.
7. Kombucha Tea
Kombucha is a type of fermented tea that contains a plethora of probiotics, including both beneficial bacteria and various yeasts. Increasingly popular, kombucha is easy to find in your local grocery store. You can also make it at home to have your probiotics on tap!
To give probiotic foods a boost, try eating them alongside prebiotic foods that feed the good bacteria in the gut. Prebiotic foods contain fiber that is indigestible for us but is an ideal fuel source for certain bacteria. Prebiotic foods include asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes, bananas, leeks, oatmeal, maple syrup, and legumes.