Probiotic foods

In the nutrition and science world, probiotics are also sometimes referred to as “friendly bacteria.” Never thought you’d hear that, did you? Well, it’s true. There are millions of bacteria in the body, particularly in the intestine, that help with metabolic and biological functions. Probiotics are live microorganisms that are similar to these microorganisms found in the intestines (gut). Probiotics are found in foods and dietary supplements sold to consumers; they are beneficial to the host (human) that they are given to.

The most common groups of probiotics are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. Within those groups, there are different species of bacteria that are considered probiotics. Some probiotics are yeasts, which are different than bacteria, such as Saccharomyces boulardii. Probiotics have been around for quite some time, centuries even, and are continuously being studied and used for their health benefits.

Health Purposes of Probiotics

Probiotics are taken for one reason and one reason only: their numerous health benefits! Now, that can certainly be expanded on, but the main reason is that people desire for their health to be benefited by them in some way.

Microorganisms everywhere!
Microorganisms are everywhere, there’s no doubt about it. There are bad microorganisms and there are good microorganisms. The good ones, particularly the bacteria, are essential for a healthy immune system, for protection against bad bacteria and other microorganisms, and for the digestion and absorption of vital nutrients. The interaction between people, the environment’s microorganisms, and the microorganisms they are used to being exposed to in their bodies, is critical to a person’s health and well-being.

Probiotics used to treat…
…diarrhea, urinary tract infections of the female genital tract, irritable bowel syndrome, bladder cancer, atopic dermatitis in children, pouchitis (a condition following a colon removal surgery), and to shorten how long certain intestinal infections last.

Probiotic Foods
There are many foods that contain probiotics, in addition to the numerous supplements available over-the-counter containing the microorganisms.

Yogurt – this is one of the main foods that people’s minds think of when they hear the word “probiotics.” Only yogurts containing live cultures have probiotics, so be sure to look for this on the ingredient label or as a claim on the carton.

Buttermilk – buttermilk is gross for some people to drink by itself, but using it in recipes or adding it to fruit smoothies will be a major benefit because of the probiotics it contains.

Tempeh – this is a chewy soy product with a meat-like texture. Tempeh, when made, uses whole soybeans that are given enough time to ferment, forming a beneficial mold that helps hold the soy together. It is used in vegetarian dishes and contains an abundance of probiotics.

Miso – you’ve probably heard of miso soup. Miso is a Japanese seasoning produced by fermenting beans or grains. It is used in soups, sauces, and spreads.

Sauerkraut – sauerkraut is essentially fermented or pickled cabbage. During the time that the cabbage is fermenting, probiotics are formed.

Kim chi – this is another cabbage product. It smells awful, but contains a good dose of beneficial probiotics. It is like sauerkraut, but stronger in flavor and smell.

Brewer’s yeast – brewer’s yeast is a by-product of beer and contains probiotics.

Kefir – kefir is a beverage that contains probiotics; it is made from cow’s milk, goat’s milk, or sheep’s milk, or from plant milks, like rice milk or soy milk. There are lactose and non-lactose varieties.

Supplements – probiotic supplements are the same thing as the probiotics in foods. However, some people would rather go the natural route, and just eat the food instead. It is completely up to you and what your personal preference is.

Last updated on Dec 13th, 2010 and filed under Nutritional Information. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

1 Response for “Probiotic foods”

  1. I feel so good in myself since I started taking probiotics. Would highly recommend taking a high quality probiotic supplement like optibac or omnicare, as opposed to probiotic yoghurts or drinks which are not as strong, and are often very sugary.

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