What are probiotics?
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, probiotics are live microorganisms that live inside your body.
“Probiotics are substances that encourage the growth of bacteria, specifically beneficial bacteria, that help to keep intestinal health in balance,” Frances Largeman-Roth, RDN, author of Eating in Color told Women’s Health. “A healthy balance of good bacteria in the body may help regulate weight and ward off a range of health issues.”
What’s the difference between pre and probiotics?
Both prebiotics and probiotics play an essential role in your digestive system. Prebiotic fibres are eaten and then fermented in the large colon which help breed bacterial colonies (including probiotics), they also help increase the number of other good bacteria in the gut. Probiotics on the other hand, are not ingested but naturally created during the fermentation process.
There are two main strains of probiotics known as lactobacillus and bifidobacterium which are commonly found in a range of fermented foods.
Benefits of probiotics
You might be thinking, what’s the fuss over these tiny guys. Probiotics help to balance the gut out of good and bad bacteria, for example when you take antibiotics the number of good bacteria decreased which is why doctors often recommend probiotics. They also reduce the risk of disease, anxiety and depression as well as improving overall health and wellbeing.
Here are ten foods that are loaded with probiotics.
When you think of a food rich in probiotics yoghurt is probably one of the first to come to mind, and for good reason it is one of the best sources of probiotics. Dairy products, yoghurt in particular is high in the lactobacillus probiotic.
Made by adding good bacteria and yeast to milk and most commonly known for its sour taste. Kefir also contains high levels of lactobacillus and due to its lengthy fermentation process contains more probiotics than cow’s and goat’s milk.
Using a similar process to yoghurt and kefir, sauerkraut is created when vegetables (generally cabbage) are fermented over a long period of time. This process creates a host of both Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains. Make sure you buy sauerkraut from the fridge section, sauerkraut that is on the shelves is likely to have been pasteurized, a process which kills probiotics.
7. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is in the limelight once again, and with an array of other health benefits it turns out that ACV is also packed with probiotics. If you are going to add ACV into your morning routine, make sure you dilute it in water, shots cause a nasty burn in the back of the throat.
Kimchi is a flavoursome, often spicy Koren dish where the same preservation method as sauerkraut is used. The addition of different vegetables aside from cabbage will also boost probiotic levels.
5. Miso paste
Miso paste is made of fermented soybeans and salt which is why it contains high levels of both prebiotics and probiotics.
Tempeh is also made from fermented soybeans. Probiotics are formed through the fermentation process, it is also packed with vitamin B12 and protein, plus a whole host of other nutrients which is why it is a great protein source for vegetarians.
Kombucha has seen a resurgence over the last couple of years. It is created when black or green tea is fermented by bacteria and yeast. In order for the bacteria to stay alive, the drink must be stored at temperatures lower than 4 degrees.
It turns out some cheeses are made using lactic acid bacteria which is a probiotic. Think cheddar, Gouda and Swiss for example, and the older the better.
Another addition to the dairy category is buttermilk, which is the leftover liquid from the butter making process. There are two different varieties of buttermilk, cultured and traditional. Surprisingly, traditional has more probiotic benefits as it is not treated. Whereas cultured buttermilk has lost its probiotic benefits in the heating process.