Probiotics Part 1: Probiotic Food

Probiotics is a buzz word that is often touted by food companies to sell a product. Or maybe someone has mentioned them to you as a good thing for gut health and immunity. But what are they exactly? Can you get them from food or do you need to purchase supplements?

The truth is that probiotics are best for you when found in food form! In a separate article we will discuss the pros and cons of using probiotic supplements.

Let’s start with the basics!

What are probiotics?

Probiotics are the “good” bacteria. They are like bacteria that are naturally found in your gut (large intestine). When you eat probiotic-containing foods you are balancing and repopulating your gut bacteria. Keeping your gut bacteria strong is important as it can improve your immune system and overall gastrointestinal (GI) health.

There are different strains of probiotics. Some common strain names you’ve probably heard of are are Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG), Bifidus regularis, and Bifantis.

What foods have probiotics?

Most probiotics are found in fermented foods. What are fermented foods you might ask?

Fermented Foods: Foods that are made from microbial growth.

Yogurt is an example of a fermented food. Yogurt is made from milk and becomes a probiotic when the lactic-acid-producing bacteria grow on the sugars in the milk. The bacterial growth causes the milk components to change (flavor, texture, nutrients) which then makes it yogurt.

**To read more about fermentation, check out this article by a dietitian! **

Heres a list of fermented foods that are probiotics!

Why are fermented foods as a source of probiotics good for you?

Our GI bacteria is important to our health. Lifestyles/experiences can lead to a decrease in the function of the intestinal bacteria. Things like surgeries, oral antibiotics, and eating an unhealthy diet can lead to the destruction of your normal gut flora. However, fermented foods or probiotics can help keep your GI bacteria strong by helping you maintain a strong immune system and the ability to fight off infection.

So are all fermented foods a source probiotics?

No, the fermented food has to contain enough live microbes to be considered a probiotic. Even though not all fermented foods are probiotics, fermented foods still have benefit to your health.

**Check out this article for more information about the health benefits of probiotics** Health Benefits of Probiotics: A Review

Safety of Probiotics

Probiotics are safe to use for generally healthy people. If someone has a weakened immune system or is critically ill, potential problems could arise, but probiotics are very safe and have not been known to cause long-term complications.

Bottom Line for Probiotics From Food:

  1. Probiotics are good bacteria, good for you, and should be in your normal diet!
  2. Probiotics provided health benefits for your body!
  3. Probiotics are easy to fit into your diet from food, 1 serving of yogurt a day!

Recommended Readings:

Probiotics Part 2: Probiotic Supplements
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