How To Include More Probiotic Foods In Your Diet (& Why You Should)
What you eat plays a vital role in your overall health. The body needs various nutrients to help support its basic functions and systems, such as the immune system, the digestive system, the cardiovascular system, and the circulatory system. When the body doesn't get enough nutrients, it can lead to the development of chronic disease and make a person more susceptible to illness and other health issues.
One nutrient that the body can benefit from getting more of is probiotics. They help to maintain and balance levels of good and bad bacteria, which plays a crucial role in many of the body's functions. But what are probiotics, and how do you include more probiotic foods in your diet?
What are probiotics?
The term probiotics is used to describe a group of live yeast and bacteria that can provide many health benefits. The main system that probiotics affects is the digestive system, which is full of bacteria. These living microorganisms are a key component of both gut and brain health. The bacteria found within the body can be “good” or “bad”, but if the body is functioning as it should, the bad bacteria won’t cause any issues because there is enough good bacteria to keep it in check.
What are the benefits of probiotic foods?
There are many health benefits of getting enough probiotics in your diet. The main benefit is that they help your digestive system, maintaining the natural balance of your gut bacteria. If the balance of good and bad bacteria within the gut is off, it can lead to digestive issues, allergies, mental illness, and an unhealthy weight.
Some research has found that there is a link between gut health and mental health. Probiotics have been shown to improve some mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. They have also been shown to help reduce overall levels of stress, which can have a positive benefit to overall health.
Heart health is also something that can benefit from probiotics. Studies have shown that taking probiotics can help to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels. This is because some strains of bacteria can break down bile in the gut, leading to lowered cholesterol and better digestion.
Some health conditions can also benefit from the use of probiotics, such as allergies and eczema. When it comes to immune health, probiotics may also be able to boost the system by inhibiting harmful gut bacteria growth. Some strains of probiotics have also shown to help the production of antibodies that are used to fight off pathogens that can lead to illness.
One more aspect probiotics can help with is healthy weight. Different strains of probiotics will do this in different ways. For example, some probiotics can help fat digestion by preventing dietary fat from being absorbed into the intestines. This then leads to the fat being flushed from the body instead of stored. Studies have also shown that probiotics may help curb appetite and cravings, which will lead to a healthy overall body weight over time.
What foods contain the most probiotics?
There are many good options when it comes to food that is high in natural probiotics. One particular food is often the first choice: yogurt. It is one of the best sources of probiotics because it is made from fermented milk. The process of fermentation involves friendly bacteria that are good for the gut.
Kefir is another popular probiotic. It is a drink typically made from fermented cow or goat milk and kefir grain. The kefir grains are cultures of bacteria and yeast that, when mixed with the milk, create something of a probiotic “superfood”. Kombucha is another popular probiotic drink that is made with fermented black or green tea.
Sauerkraut is another fermented food. Made from cabbage, it is full of probiotics because it is fermented by lactic acid bacteria. It is usually eaten as a side dish or on top of foods such as sausages or hamburgers. Kimchi can also be made of cabbage, but it is spicier than sauerkraut because it is also mixed with a variety of different seasonings.
Tempeh is made from fermented soybeans and is a first choice among vegans and vegetarians when it comes to getting high protein in their diet. Aside from its high protein content, it also contains a wide variety of probiotics.
Pickles are also a great source of probiotics because they are also fermented and contain their own lactic acid bacteria. Cheese can also provide probiotic benefits (although not all cheese has probiotics). Some types of cheese that have good bacteria include gouda, mozzarella, cheddar, and cottage cheese.
How to get more probiotics in your diet
Foods that are probiotic are typically not main dishes, but they can be easily incorporated into foods you already eat. Yogurt, for example, can be eaten on its own or added to smoothies. Cheese can be used as a topping on almost anything from burgers and sandwiches to vegetables and steak. Since there are so many probiotic food options, it can be easy to find one that you like and incorporate into your weekly meal plan.