Your body hosts a variety of bacteria. Bacteria that are naturally present in your body pose no threat to you. On the contrary, they play an important role in maintaining several key bodily functions and overall health.
The community of bacteria inside the human body is often referred to as a microbiome. If your microbiome goes off-balance, your entire system can be disturbed. Signs of a properly functioning microbiome include clear skin, healthy digestion, and good metabolic health.
The best way to ensure a healthy microbiome is to consume probiotic-rich foods.
What are Probiotics?
Probiotics refer to live cultures or the “good” bacteria, such as those found naturally in your gut. Having foods that contain probiotics is essential because these active cultures help balance gut flora by playing a role in changing or repopulating intestinal bacteria. How is this possible? Well, the “good” bacteria in probiotics are essentially the same bacteria that are present in a healthy gut.
Probiotics may boost your immunity and overall health, particularly your gastrointestinal health.
What are Prebiotics?
Probiotic foods are even more effective when combined with prebiotic foods. Prebiotic foods can be thought of as “good” bacteria promoters. Both these types of food work with each other synergistically and, therefore, are called the “dynamic duo.”
Prebiotics are food for probiotics that restore and may improve your GI health. Some meals and snacks, called synbiotics, combine both prebiotics and probiotics together. Some examples of these are stir-fried asparagus with tempeh and bananas with yogurt.
Foods That Naturally Contain Probiotics
Foods that naturally contain probiotics include:
- Fermented dairy products
- Aged cheeses
- Kefir products
They contain live cultures such as lactobacilli and bifidobacteria.
Other foods having beneficial live cultures include fermented, non-dairy foods like:
- Cultured non-dairy yogurts
Including Probiotics in Your Diet
Probiotics can be consumed through dietary supplements, but this is not necessary. You can get an adequate supply of these “nutrition boosters” through several everyday foods.
You can also make fermented food at home, which is an easy and low-cost way to get probiotics in your diet. Here are some simple recipes to incorporate probiotics in your daily diet:
- Mix 1/2 cup Kefir (any flavor) and ¼ cup fresh blueberries, then sprinkle some low-sugar granola on top.
- Take a few fresh vegetables and prepare your own version of Kimchi at home. Kimchi is the oldest traditional food in Korea (dates back to 37 BC – 7 AD) and is also the country’s national food. It is easy to make and is packed with health benefits. Follow this simple recipe to make Kimchi at home:
You can find more recipes having probiotic-rich food here:
Probiotic-rich foods promote optimal gut health that is essential for your overall well-being. So, make sure that you include them in your daily diet. When you consume more probiotic-rich foods, the healthy bacteria get fed properly, and this makes them work better to maintain your health. So, try out a few new recipes, and keep your tummy happy and healthy!
- Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations/World Health Organization (FAO/WHO) Report of a joint FAO/WHO working group on drafting guidelines for the evaluation of probiotics in food. http://www.fao.org/3/a-a0512e.pdf
- Khor B, Gardet A, Xavier RJ. Genetics and pathogenesis of inflammatory bowel disease. 2011;474(7351):307–317. doi.org/10.1038/nature10209
- Saarela M, Mogensen G, Fondén R, Mättö J, Mattila-Sandholm T. Probiotic bacteria: Safety, functional and technological properties. Journal of Biotechnology. 2000;84(3):197–215. org/10.1016/S0168-1656(00)00375-8.