The term “Probiotics” may sound like the name of a medicine, but probiotics aren’t a drug. However, probiotics can work like one.
What are Probiotics?
Probiotics are nothing more than a collection of “good” bacteria. These are housed in a capsule supplement or certain food products, like yogurt or fermented milk.
Their purpose, in a nutshell, is to increase the too-low “good” flora (bacteria) level in the stomach and intestines (gastrointestinal tract).
When there are too few “good” bacteria, and too many “bad” bacteria, disease and intestinal conditions can occur. So taking probiotics levels the odds in favor of the good bacteria.
Health Benefits of Probiotics
Probiotics and our pH Balance
According to the BC Dairy Foundation (pg 2), probiotics must have a pH balance higher than 1.5 (our stomach acid level) and 2.0 (our bile acid level). If not, the stomach and bile acids will destroy them and prevent any positive impact they could have had on our intestines.
Pathogens that survive the stomach have a higher pH level than 2.0. Therefore, if probiotics are going to be used to bring intestinal health about.
They have to have a higher pH balance too. However, no set numerical pH balance minimum has been determined other than the need to exceed 2.0.
Probiotics and the G.I. Tract
Our gastrointestinal tract (GI Tract) needs “good” bacteria to properly function. These “good” bacteria are responsible for helping with the breakdown of foods and the aiding of cells and the gut wall in addition to their fight against pathogens.
And according to specialist in gastroenterology and hepatology, probiotics can influence whether the GI tract becomes inflamed or not due to pathogens.
Probiotics and the Immune System
Basically, probiotics-if has taken in the proper amount for a limited amount of time. It can add to the “good” bacteria number in our stomach and intestines, aiding them in their fight against the bad bacteria present, and the diseases they can cause.
Are Probiotics Safe?
But probiotics, like other supplements (such as herbs and vitamins), are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The content in one product may differ greatly from that produced by other manufacturers.
Also, realize that you don’t take probiotics year-round like you do vitamins, or in the same dosage as other people. Since each person’s digestion system varies.
Therefore, consult with a doctor before beginning any supplementation regimen of probiotics. Especially if on medications for other medical conditions.
What Foods Contain Probiotics?
How to get more probiotics?
Here are given below The best probiotic foods for a healthful diet:
1. Yogurt that contains live bacteria culture.
Make assured that says live culture, live bacteria, or probiotics on the label because not all yogurts are probiotic. In reality, the live culture or bacteria produces a yogurt probiotic.
2. Cheese that is NOT baked
. The heat from baking kills the bacteria cultures, so pizza, grilled cheese sandwiches, and hot queso dip are NOT sources of probiotics. Aged cheeses (like cheddar and blue cheese) are the best sources of probiotics. Processed cheeses or cheese spreads do not have probiotics.
3. Fermented milk.
I know that sounds gross, but buttermilk is fermented milk, and that’s not gross. Acidophilus milk is also fermented.
Very similar to yogurt. Kefir is a dairy beverage extremely rich in probiotics.
Kefir is a yogurt-like drink that’s a good source of probiotics. Traditionally made with sheep or goat’s milk. This rich drink contains more probiotics than most yogurt.
It is delicious when mixed into granola or consumed as a small-serving drink.
But since you can pretty much only get it at specialty stores. It’s not readily available to most people. That can be easily solved by making your kefir. To make your own, look for a starter culture for kefir.
We talked about fermented milk, now we’re talking about fermented soybeans. Miso is a seasoning paste made from fermented soy and barley or rice and is used as a base in many Japanese soups and sauces.
A fermented product made from soy. Tempeh is an excellent alternative to tofu for people who want a delicious meat substitute. It also offers a boost of friendly bacteria.
Because it’s fermented in friendly bacteria like L. acidophilus. It has many of the same health benefits traditionally associated with yogurt.
And speaking of fermented soybeans, tempeh is the Javanese version. Instead of a seasoning paste, tempeh is a cake form of fermented soybeans. It can be stewed, boiled, fried, or baked, and is also a good source of protein.
7. Some juices.
Adding probiotics to fruit and vegetable juices introduces live cultures where they normally wouldn’t be found.
“This is an alternative to dairy products that suits consumers who don’t want to eat dairy foods or are lactose intolerant,” said Kaarle Leporanta, marketing manager for the Finnish dairy group Valio.
Sauerkraut is the German style of fermenting cabbage. (It’s the fermentation process that gives foods their probiotic nature.)
Homemade sauerkraut will have probiotics, but commercially packaged sauerkraut often doesn’t. It’s important to read the label.
Kimchi is a flavorful Korean dish made from cabbage cultured in probiotics. Often made with fish oil, peppers, and garlic. Kimchi is so alive with friendly bacteria. Its juices tend to be a fizzy and tart.
A result of the fermentation process caused by L. acidophilus and other friendly bacteria found in the food. Add a little kimchi to your diet if you want to boost your probiotic intake.
10. Soy beverages and unfermented milk.
I’m lumping these together for a good reason. They’re often listed as good food sources for probiotics, but according to Canada’s Institut des Nutraceutiques et des Aliments Fonctionnels (INAF), the probiotics in them don’t reach the level required to produce gastro-intestinal tract health effects.
A fermented tea containing a culture of friendly bacteria and yeast compounds.
Kombucha has a delightful flavor that combines tartness, sweetness, and the gentle, familiar taste of tea.
Many forms of kombucha tea offer higher levels of health-supporting probiotics than yogurt and other more common sources of probiotics.
12. Breast Milk
Breast milk is the first and most important source of probiotics we encounter in life.
Studies have found that these friendly bacteria are extremely important to the health of infants and toddlers, especially during times of illness.
If you have a young child who could benefit from probiotics. Consider increasing the amount of breast milk in his diet.
How much is needed?
But just having a higher pH than the stomach and bile acids isn’t enough. Probiotics must be large enough in number to make an impact against the excessive bad bacteria too. Unfortunately, no one knows just what that number is at present.