It seems that the word probiotics is everywhere these days. From food labels to health magazines to supplement ads, probiotics has become the latest buzzword in the realm of health and nutrition. But what are they exactly?
Probiotics are live microorganisms that can promote a healthy bacterial balance in the gut. The intestinal tract hosts trillions of bacteria, which have an active role in digestion, nutrient absorption, immunity support, and fighting off harmful bacteria. Consuming probiotics can help your body maintain its natural balance of gut flora and can help restore that balance when it has been thrown off kilter by sickness, stress or antibiotics.
If you want to add probiotics to your diet, your first instinct might be to make a mad dash to the dairy aisle and fill your cart with yogurt, but not so fast! There are several other foods besides yogurt that are teeming with a variety of healthy bacteria. Try adding some of these excellent probiotic sources to your diet:
This Asian tea is fermented with yeast and bacteria to create a drink that is rich in probiotics. Kombucha is sweet, lightly carbonated and can be found in your local grocery or health food store.
This fermented cabbage is an acquired taste, but it is loaded with healthy bacteria. A recent report by Dr. Joseph Mercola showed that two ounces of home-fermented sauerkraut contained more probiotics than a bottle of 100 supplement pills (Source: Organic Health). Look for sauerkraut that is refrigerated and labeled as having "live active cultures."
Kefir is often described as drinkable yogurt, but it actually contains different types of bacteria than yogurt. Milk is fermented with yeast and bacteria to create kefir grains, which are extremely rich in probiotics. Kefir comes in a variety of flavors and is extremely versatile. Try using it for smoothies, dips and salad dressings.
Cultured Cottage Cheese
Some types of cottage cheese have been enhanced to contain live active cultures. Nancy’s cultured cottage cheese contains L. acidophilus, B. bifidum and four strains of lactic cultures.
The live cultures that ferment the milk sugars in buttermilk are an excellent source of probiotics. Buttermilk has a tangy, sour taste which everyone may not enjoy, but it is extremely versatile. Try using it in smoothies or salad dressing. Just be sure to avoid cooking it at high temperatures which will kill the live cultures (Source: WGNO).