What are Probiotics?
Probiotics are live bacteria that help in healthy digestion, gut function, and overall wellbeing. The word probiotics is a combination of two words ‘pro’ and ‘biota’ that means ‘for life.’
Their usage is generally considered safe for most people. However, it is suggested that any kind of intake that’s different from your usual diet and medication should first be discussed with your physician to avoid any mishappenings.
Types of Probiotics
There are two main types of probiotics called Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus.
Bifidobacteria are one of the major kinds of bacteria that inhabit the gastrointestinal tracts in mammals, including humans. These bacteria are known to
- Limit the growth of harmful bacteria in the intestine.
- Aid the immune system.
- Help in breaking down lactose into nutrients that the body can use.
Lactobacillus are friendly bacteria that live in our digestive, urinary, and vaginal systems. These are also a part of the lactic acid bacteria group. They help in
- Inhibiting the growth of bad bacteria.
- Increasing the body’s capacity to absorb minerals.
Benefits of taking Probiotics for Women
- Probiotics induce good bacteria and are mostly recommended by doctors, along with a dose of antibiotics.
- They improve vaginal health.
- They boost digestion and help with gas and bloating.
- They prevent urinary tract infections.
Research(1) states that for the treatment of urinary tract infections, probiotics are preferred more than antibiotics. Since UTI is a recurrent condition, repeated treatment with antibiotics adversely affects healthy microbiota. Thus, probiotics are preferred.
Did You Know!
The human body contains 1.5 kg of probiotic bacteria. This is more than the weight of the human brain.
Best Foods for Probiotics
Yogurt is packed with nutrients that can help in several functions, including an improvement in digestive health, strengthening your immune system, and in benefiting overall heart health.
Yogurt is one of the most popular probiotics(2). It is prepared by fermenting milk with lactic acid bacteria and bifidobacteria, which are friendly bacteria.
How to use
Yogurt is a healthy and tasty food product that can be easily incorporated in your daily diet for better gut health.
If you want an even more potent source of probiotics, kefir is an excellent option. It’s packed with nutrients and helps maintain good digestion and gut health. It is also rich in antibacterial properties and helps protect from breast cancer.
The word ‘kefir’ is derived from the Turkish word ‘keyif’ which means “feeling good.” That’s how you feel after consuming kefir. It is a probiotic fermented milk drink that is made by adding kefir grains to milk. Kefir contains a lot of friendly bacteria and yeast that make it a great probiotic.
How to use
Kefir grains can be used to cultivate your own kefir milk, which is a healthy and tasty alternative to normal milk. Kefir milk can be had every day for good digestion.
Kefir and yogurt are also great probiotics for pregnant women because they contain Vitamin D and calcium.
[Read: Benefits & Uses of Kefir ]
This is a rich source of probiotics and also contains other nutrients like Vitamin A and K. It significantly aids in maintaining a strong immune system.
Sauerkraut or sour cabbage is made by mixing finely shredded cabbage with salt. The salt releases water from the cabbage and ferments it giving life to healthy microbes that are great probiotics for women’s digestive health.
How to use
Eat it as a side dish or salad with regular meals. It can be consumed daily with no registered side effects.
[Read: Impressive Benefits of Sauerkraut ]
Aside from being rich in probiotics, this fermented vegetable is also a great antioxidant and is a must-include in your diet.
Similar to sauerkraut(3), kimchi is also salted and fermented. It is a table staple of Korean cuisine and is mostly made with cabbage, radish, and cucumber. The good live bacteria formed as a result of the fermentation help improve digestive functioning.
How to use
Incorporate it in your regular diet as a tasty and healthy addition
Kombucha is fermented, sweetened black or green tea that is also slightly alcoholic and effervescent. It is used as a functional beverage for its health benefits because of the active beneficial bacteria.
How to use
Replace your daily intake of tea/coffee with Kombucha once or twice a week. Be careful not to over consume the drink. The slightly alcoholic nature of it and may lead to acidity for some.
Cheese apart from being great source of proteins and calcium, is also rich in probiotics. It thus helps in promoting bone and gut health. apart from being high in probiotics, which further help promote gut health.
Most cheese variants are formed by fermentation, but not all contain probiotics. Very few cheese variants have live and active cultures that are good probiotics. In some cheeses, the good bacteria outlive the aging process. Cottage cheese, gouda, mozzarella are some of the popular probiotic cheeses.
[Read: Probiotics for Weight Loss]
How to use
Cheese can be had in various forms throughout the day. Most people have cheese and toast for breakfast, but it can also be used in salads, pizzas or pasta. A lot of other recipes also use cheese, and it can be easily included in one’s diet.
Every health expert, nutritionist, and the doctor is saying you need them, and guess what? They’re right. Alongside promoting good health, they also defend the body against various diseases. It should be noted that a good diet is also essential to augment the benefits of probiotics in the body.
1. What are the best probiotics for maintaining women’s pH balance?
The probiotics that contain the Lactobacillus family of bacteria are the best to maintain pH balance in women. Yogurt and kefir and considered the best probiotics for women’s pH balance.
2. What are the best probiotic vitamins for women?
The best probiotic vitamin supplements for women are RAW and OptiBac. The detailed benefits and recommended dosage of both are mentioned above.
3. Can probiotics make you gain weight?
Not completely true. However, some probiotic strains can cause weight gain. It is different for different individuals. Hence, it is recommended to consult a doctor and get an option of the probiotics that can match the respective body.
4. What happens when you start taking probiotics?
In the beginning, probiotics can lead to bloating, diarrhea, or gas. Most of these effects are common and usually go away in a few days.
5. Should you take probiotics on a full or empty stomach?
Probiotics have good results when consumed on an empty stomach. It is a must to consume healthy foods after taking them, which aids the probiotics with a nutrient-rich environment and augments their function.