Bacteria get a bad reputation. Usually, they are thought of as germs that create and spread disease. This, however, is not always the case. There are good bacteria in the world, and some of them live inside you. Probiotics are the good bacteria that are essential in keeping your gut happy and healthy.
When you have digestive problems, doctors usually prescribe them to help. When you take antibiotics and you reduce the number of good bacteria in your body, probiotics can replace them. Probiotics are also key in helping keep your body operating in top condition.
What Do Probiotics Do?
Probiotics are used mostly for their properties that affect nerves in the gut, thereby affecting gut movement. There is ongoing research to pinpoint which types of probiotics are best for treating certain health problems. Typically, they treat diseases of the digestive tract, such as:
- ♦ Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
- ♦ Irritable bowel syndrome
- ♦ Diarrhea related to antibiotics
- ♦ Diarrhea caused by viruses, parasites, or other bacteria
There have been claims that probiotics are useful for more than just digestion, however. There have been claims that probiotics have helped with skin conditions, urinary health, oral health, as well as preventing colds and allergies.
Different Forms of Probiotics
There are a great many types of bacteria that are classified as probiotics and they all have diverse varieties of benefits. Working with a doctor can help you find the right probiotic for your specific situation.
- ♦ Saccharomyces boulardii is a yeast commonly found in some types of probiotics. It is widely used to prevent diarrhea as well as other digestive complications.
- ♦ Bifidobacterium is also found in dairy. It can also be used to help relieve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.
- ♦ Lactobacillus is the most common type of probiotic. It is found in fermented foods such as yogurt and can help with the treatment of lactose intolerance and diarrhea.
Where to Get Probiotics
While probiotics come in different types of supplement forms, they are also readily available in many different types of foods. Probiotic sources are all around you, and there are some great, healthy options out there.
is by far the most common source of edible probiotics. While Greek yogurt is great for gut health, it can also aid in muscle building as it is a major source of protein. Checking the label for “active” and “live” cultures will ensure that you are reaping the probiotic benefits. Also, try to avoid yogurts with added sugars, as these will just feed the bad bacteria.
is also a great probiotic source, as well as a fun one. It is a lightly fizzy drink made from fermented food, a tea base, and a bacterial culture. However, note that making your own kombucha at home is the best way to get all the benefits without the potential danger. Unpasteurized kombucha that has been on the shelf for a while can have some nasty side effects. Additionally, the bottled version in the refrigerated section of the grocery store do not do much for your gut health.
is another fermented dish from Asia made from veggies like radish, cabbage, and scallions. It is a great source of the strain Lactobacillus, but the benefits do not stop at probiotic health. Kimchi can also help you reduce your weight as well!
that have been brined in salt water undertake a natural fermentation process which gives them their distinct flavor. There are two strains found in olives, both of the Lactobacillus variety, and they might just help you lose those few extra pounds. This probiotic can balance the gut bacteria as well as reduce bloating.
is a great source of probiotics, but it has many other health benefits as well. Miso is made from fermenting soybeans through a process using a fungus called “koji” and salt. It has all nine essential amino acids, rendering it a complete protein. Additionally, because miso is derived from soy, it can stimulate digestion, fortify the immune system, and lessen your risk of cancer.
is another fermented soy product common in vegetarian and vegan foods as a meat alternative. It has a relatively impartial flavor, but has a tender texture making it ideal for seasoning. In addition to the probiotic benefits, one serving of tempeh has sixteen grams of protein as well as 8% of your daily value of calcium.
is made via a fermentation process where yeast and bacteria decompose the sugar and gluten in flour. This changes the chemistry of the flour, turning it into vitamins, minerals, and proteins. This type of bread is also easier on the stomach than other kinds of bread, making it easier for the body to digest.
does not always contain live cultures, similar to Greek yogurt. However, some varieties do, and cottage cheese is also packed with a lot of protein to build muscle. In this case, though, watch for your sodium intake, as cottage cheese can have high levels. This can cause bloating if eaten in surplus amounts.
Within reason, beer and wine can provide some modest probiotic benefits due to their fermentation process. When consumed in moderation, they can help balance cholesterol and decrease the formation of blood clots.
The Safe Use of Probiotics
Probiotics are regulated by the FDA as a food, not as a medication or a treatment method. Makers of probiotic supplements are not required to show that their product is safe or that it is proven to work. Employ caution when starting a probiotic supplement.
Talking to a doctor before you start taking probiotics is also a good course of action. Typically, supplements and probiotic foods are safe for most individuals, but those with health problems, specifically problems affecting the immune system, should be careful when taking them or avoid them altogether.
There are side effects included when taking probiotics. In the first few days, there may be symptoms such as an upset stomach, gas, bloating, and diarrhea. Some people have been known to experience an allergic reaction to probiotics as well. Talk to your doctor about your problems.