Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that can improve your overall health, particularly in your digestive system. Bacteria comprise approximately 1-2 percent of our bodies. Probiotics are the “good” bacteria we need to keep our digestive tract and immune system healthy. Listed below are the top 5 foods for probiotics and their benefits.
- Yogurt – This is probably the most common probiotic food around. Maybe too common. Be careful to read the labels on the yogurt containers. Look for live cultured and handmade yogurt, as it is the best source for probiotics. Otherwise, you may be consuming artificial sweeteners and high fructose corn syrup. Yogurt can improve bone health and lessen irritable bowel syndrome symptoms.
- Sauerkraut – Unpasteurized fermented cabbage is rich in live cultures. It also minimizes effects of allergies and is high in vitamins B, A, E and C. Vitamin B convert food into fuel, allowing our bodies to stay energized. Bone growth and a strong immune system is aided with vitamin A. While vitamin E is rich in antioxidants that reduce cell-damaging particles. Vitamin C protects against immune system deficiencies and cardiovascular disease.
- Pickles – Like it’s cousin fermented cabbage, the pickle is a great source of probiotics. Most all pickles contain a microbial value; however, the less commercialized the higher the probiotics. Some of the benefits include improved intestinal tract health, reduction in cancer risk and improved mental health.
- Cheeses – Probiotics are found in cottage cheese, gouda, cheddar, and mozzarella. While not many “good” bacteria survive the aging process, these specific cheeses are a good source of probiotics. When purchasing cheese, be sure to check the food labels for active cultures or the words “made from raw milk” and “organic.” The probiotics found in these cheeses have been linked to a reduction in immunosenescence (how elderly lose their natural immunity).
- Miso – This Japanese seasoning is made by fermenting soybeans with salt and the fungus koji. This paste is often used in miso soup. Miso isn’t just full of “good” bacteria, it also contains various vitamins and is linked to a reduced risk in stroke.
Probiotics are a great way to balance the “good” and “bad” bacteria in your body. These “good” bacteria can improve your digestive tract, immune system, and bone health. Probiotics also have extra benefits, including vitamins, minerals, and calcium. To get the most out of a probiotic food, just make sure that you read the food labels that specifically say that the item is probiotic or contains live cultures.