What is a Probiotic?
Probiotics are a group of live, active microorganisms (mostly bacteria, but some other microbes like yeast) that have intended health benefits within the GI tract
What do Probiotics do inside our bellies?
Probiotics can ferment, decompose, and help to digest the foods you eat. The bacteria must be live cultures in order for us to get the benefits of probiotics.
What can probiotics do for our health?
Research has been emerging on probiotics and shows that those with lesser amount of “good” gut bacteria are more susceptible to diseases of the GI tract like Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn’s, Irritable Bowel, and even has been linked to greater risk of obesity. Having appropriate amounts of probiotics in the diet and in the gut are linked to a healthier immune system, improved cardiovascular health, better nutrient absorption, and lessened risk of obesity.
Where do we get Probiotics?
We start acquiring gut microbes when we are born, and continue to acquire more depending on our environment. In fact, if you have a pet, you have more gut microbes than someone who doesn’t! Your food and drink choices, as well as, overall health, stress and antibiotic use can impact the gut microbe amounts. Antibiotics kill all of the bacteria in the gut, whether good or bad, in attempt to help fight off illness!
Sources of Probiotics
Fermented foods are all great sources of probiotics. Fermented foods are cheese, kefir, and yogurt. The good bacteria is used in the fermentation process, which helps yield the final product. To know if you’re getting good bacteria, the label on the product will say “live and active cultures”. There are other food sources of probiotics that go beyond dairy; these are any pickled vegetables, some soybean products, and unpasteurized sauerkraut. Another source of probiotics is Kombucha, which is a yeast fermented tea drink. It provides the good bacteria, while in a drinkable tea form.
Eating and Storage of Probiotics
- Most probiotics need to be kept in a refrigerator, so be sure to store them between 34-38 degrees.
- Probiotics come in different strains, check the label to see what type you’re getting (there’s Lactobacillus rhamnosus, L. casei, Bifidobacterium lactis, L. bulgaricus, and S. themophiles.)
- Cooking and eating will destroy the live and active cultures
- If you have a milk allergy, be careful because some probiotics are grown in a dairy medium, even if the product is in a dairy product
- Try to have probiotics in your diet every day since they cannot be stored, they only pass through the GI tract