Probiotics are good bacteria, which, when consumed, have several benefits for our bodies. For instance, women who consume adequate probiotics during pregnancy gave birth to children who had a reduced chance of developing eczema(1) in their first two years. Research also confirms that probiotics can prevent the development of sepsis in newborn babies. Probiotics are available for consumption in the form of supplements or even certain fermented foods.
They generally aid in digestion and prevent any sort of inflammation in the gut, especially if you suffer from stomach pain or digestive disease. While the most common go-to foods are those of the dairy family, other kinds of food also make for good sources of these bacteria.
Did You Know?
Aside from their many benefits, probiotics can also help boost your body’s immunity.
Facts About Probiotic Foods
- While certain categories of food are rich in probiotics, not every single is effective enough.
- Not every single fermented food item contains live culture, meaning that only a few contain probiotics.
- Some types of probiotic yogurts may have a high amount of sugar. Sugar cancels out the beneficial effects that probiotics have to offer, so choose your sources of probiotics wisely.
Benefits of Probiotics
Probiotics offer several benefits to our bodies. Some of these are listed below:
- They help balance healthy bacteria in the body. A concentration of too much bad bacteria when compared to the good bacteria isn’t the most beneficial to the body.
- They can help prevent and even treat diarrhea. It can significantly help reduce its severity. Studies have suggested that the consumption of probiotics alongside a course of antibiotics can reduce the risk of diarrhea by 42%.
- Probiotics have also been found to be helpful for those with certain mental illnesses. A steady consumption of probiotics was found to improve the conditions of those with anxiety, depression, and even autism.
- Probiotics can also improve heart health by lowering LDL (bad cholesterol) and blood pressure.
Foods High in Probiotics
Yogurt is one of the best sources of probiotics. The consumption of yogurt is associated with improved bone health and reduced blood pressure. It is also a robust source of calcium and protein for the body. Additionally, yogurt is also suitable for those who are lactose intolerant, as the lactose in milk is converted to lactic acid upon fermentation, making it safe to consume. However, it must be kept in mind that not all yogurts are abundant in probiotics, as the good bacteria in some are killed during processing.
Kimchi is a spicy side dish popular in Korean cuisine. While cabbage is usually the main ingredient, it can also be made with other vegetables. Kimchi contains various lactic acid bacteria which are beneficial in aiding digestion. Aside from being rich in probiotics, Kimchi is also rich in other nutrients such as vitamins and minerals when made with cabbage.
3. Traditional Buttermilk
Buttermilk is of two types: traditional and cultured. Traditional buttermilk contains probiotics. Traditional buttermilk is often consumed in India and Nepal, whereas cultured buttermilk is commonly found in American supermarkets.
4. Cheddar and Mozzarella
Certain types of cheese, such as cheddar and mozzarella, are rich in probiotics. While many kinds of cheese are fermented, only a few contain an adequate dose of probiotics. These cheese are also a rich source of protein and other nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and calcium.
5. Sour Pickles
Pickles are essentially cucumbers that have been pickled in a solution of salt and water. Their sour taste comes from their own lactic acid. Pickled cucumbers are a great source of probiotics that have been found to help digestive health. They are also low in calories and are rich in vitamin K, which is crucial for the clotting of blood.
Natto is a product made from fermented soybean. It is a staple in Japanese kitchens and is often a breakfast item. It is rich in protein and Vitamin K2, aside from also being a rich source of probiotics.
This is yet another food made out of fermented soybean. While it originated in Indonesia, it has become popular as a high protein substitute for meat. The fermentation results in Tempeh having a whole variety of nutritional benefits, such as vitamins, minerals, proteins, and probiotics.
Sauerkraut(2) is mainly finely chopped cabbage, fermented by lactic acid bacteria. It is a popular side dish along with sausages and can also be stored for a long time in an airtight container. Aside from being very high in probiotics, it is also rich in vitamins B, C, and K. It also contains antioxidants that are beneficial for good eye health.
Kombucha is a drink made of fermented black or green tea. It is fermented by gut-friendly bacteria and yeast. While high-quality evidence of its health benefits isn’t available, it is undoubtedly high in probiotics and makes for another reliable alternative.
The following is a sample meal plan for a diet rich in probiotics:
- Eggs, toast, and buttermilk
- Fruit salad with yogurt
- Tempeh with a side of yogurt
- Chicken salad and kombucha dressing
- Sausage sandwiches with sauerkraut
- Grilled chicken with Kimchi
Certain probiotics can also help reduce belly fat.
Probiotics have several health benefits for the human body. You should keep in mind that probiotics are not the ultimate fix for stomach issues, but they can significantly lessen the symptoms. While there are a lot of misconceptions surrounding it, Probiotics help give you a comprehensive guide to its benefits and the various foods that one can consume to increase their intake of probiotics.
1. Can Probiotics Also Be Consumed in the Form of Supplements?
Yes, probiotics are equally healthy when consumed as food or as supplements.
2. How Much of a Dose of Probiotics Should I Consume Every Day?
Since there is no ideal quantity of probiotics that must be consumed every day, you can include as many fermented items in your diet as possible.
3. Does Flavored Yogurt Have a Lesser Number of Probiotics?
Flavored yogurt doesn’t have a lesser number of probiotics than regular yogurt. All you need to look out for is whether it contains live culture.