Probiotics can provide all sorts of powerful benefits for your body and brain. Making sure they’re a daily part of your diet can improve digestive health, reduce depression and promote heart health. Some evidence even suggests they can improve your skin! Getting probiotics from supplements is popular, but did you know that you can also get them from fermented foods?
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria found within the gut microbiome and provide health benefits when consumed. These microorganisms play a central role in health and disease and are even involved in immune function and digestion. If you don’t get enough probiotics, some of the side effects may include digestive problems, frequent colds and flu cases, and many more topics related to gut health that are being discovered daily.
Historically, people had plenty of probiotics from eating fresh foods from good soil and by fermenting foods to keep them from spoiling. Today, however, dangerous agricultural practices and decreased diet quality have caused our food supply to be significantly lower in probiotics, which is scary and means it’s even more essential to source healthy foods for yourself and your family. In addition, many foods today actually contain antibiotics, which even kill off the good bacteria in our bodies and overall can throw off your gut health for a long time.
Fortunately, though, besides taking daily probiotic supplements, there are many probiotic foods that people can choose to consume to help provide these essential microorganisms to help your gut.
So, a big question remains: How many probiotic foods do you need to get the optimal amount?
There is no recommended daily intake for probiotics, so there is no way to know exactly which fermented foods or what quantity is best. Therefore, the general guideline is to just add as many fermented foods to your daily diet as possible. You will start to notice when you feel better!
So why fermented foods, and what does this have to do with probiotics? Fermenting is one of the oldest techniques for food preservation. Mankind has been fermenting foods and drinks like beer and wine for centuries. Foods that are fermented go through a process in which natural bacteria feed on sugar and starch in the food, creating lactic acid. This process creates an environment that preserves the food and promotes beneficial enzymes, B vitamins, and omega-3 fatty acids, as well as various species of good bacteria. Pretty cool, huh?
Another way to look at fermentation is that it takes one type of food and transforms it into another kind. For instance, cabbage becomes sauerkraut, cucumbers become pickles, soybeans turn into miso, and milk can be made into yogurt, cheeses, and sour cream. All of these foods contain probiotics and are fantastic for your microbiome!
Not only are probiotics are essential for digestion, but there are hundreds of other health benefits of consuming probiotic-rich foods. According to a review published in the journal ISRN Nutrition, probiotics could also help people lower cholesterol, protect against allergies, aid in cancer prevention and more. In most cases, getting more probiotics in your routine doesn’t require you to buy expensive pills, powders, or supplements. Several probiotic foods are delicious, versatile, and easy to enjoy as part of a healthy, well-rounded diet naturally.