Probiotics 101

designLately, the health world has been all about probiotics. And, for good reason, as we’ll learn further into this post. Have you considered adding probiotics and probiotic rich foods into your diet? Here is some information that may help you.

First, what the heck are probiotics? The term probiotic comes from the terms “pro” (forward) and bios “life” in Latin, meaning that probiotics are life-promoting. Basically, probiotics are live bacteria (and some yeasts) that live in our body. Our bodies literally have billions of “good” bacteria living in our digestive systems – you may have heard this referred to as “gut flora” or your “microbiome.” Each person has a different microflora.

This “good bacteria” helps us digest our food and absorb nutrients effectively. Where do we get probiotics? They are already in our digestive system, and are made from the foods we eat. We make probiotics through eating foods rich in prebiotics. Prebiotics are the food for the good bacteria to feed on.

Why is it so important that our digestive systems run properly? Your body depends on all of its systems working together for optimal health – having one system being off balance can trigger a domino effect of healthy complications. Your digestive system running efficiently is really important for overall well-being as it is closely linked with your immune system. Thus, eating or drinking probiotics not only keeps our digestive system happy, it also helps us with immunity.

Here are my favorite food sources for probiotics:
*Fermented vegetables and/or sauerkraut – There is a difference between fermented sauerkraut/veggies and the kind you find canned or jarred loaded with vinegar, salt and sugar. It does not contain probiotics like the fermented type does. An easy brand to find is called “Bubbies.” We’ll be talking more about this in a future blog post.
*Kimchi (also naturally fermented)
*Fermented pickles
*Coconut water kefir (Good Belly is an easy brand to find, just watch for added sugar in some flavors)
*Kombucha (more on this in next blog post)
*Coconut Yogurt (watch sugar content in most flavored yogurts)
*A probiotic supplement: Brands I have used and would recommend are Dr. Ohhira’s, Jarrow and Rainbow Light.

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