Probiotics are essential for the well-being of your gut and your whole body. Some of the top food sources with probiotics include apples, almonds, yogurt, bananas, onions, apple cider vinegar, tempeh, dark chocolate and miso soup.
Did you know that the bacteria that live in your body are more than the cells of the body in a ratio of 10: 1? It is true, and the majority of them reside in your gut. You do not need to freak out, as most of these bacteria are quite harmless. Having the right type of bacteria in your body is extremely important, as it helps bring many health benefits, such as weight loss, better digestion, improved skin health and a strengthened immune system. This leads us to the issue of probiotics.
What are probiotics?
Probiotics are good bacteria that are either very similar or the same as the bacteria that already exist in our body. Only our lower digestive system hosts a diverse and complex community of these bacteria. The body is an ecosystem that contains millions of bacteria that aid digestion, produce food for the body, kill unfriendly bacteria and maintain a balance with fungi. When our ecosystem is out of balance (when the “bad” bacteria compensate for the “good” bacteria), the immune system may not work properly, yeast infections may occur and you may have problems with your digestive system. Probiotics, a dose of good bacteria, have recently been recognized as an excellent treatment for some of our health problems.
Why are probiotics important for your health?
Taking proper care of your gut and the good bacteria that live there can be one of the best things you can do for your health. If you’re not convinced, let’s take a look at the top 5 ways to explain how probiotics benefit your overall health.
1. Balance the good bacteria in your digestive system
Probiotics contain friendly bacteria, which are microorganisms that offer health benefits when consumed. These health benefits are believed to come from the ability of probiotics to restore the natural balance of bacteria present in the gut.
An imbalance indicates that there are more “bad” bacteria than “good” bacteria. This can be the result of an illness, a poor diet or medications such as antibiotics and more.
Consequences may include allergies, digestive problems, health problems and obesity among other problems.
2. Prevents and treats diarrhea
Probiotics are known for their ability to help reduce the severity of diarrhea and even prevent it. Diarrhea is a common side effect of taking antibiotics and occurs because antibiotics tend to negatively affect the balance of friendly and bad bacteria in the gut. Several studies show that consuming enough probiotics can reduce the incidence of antibiotic-related diarrhea.
3. Improve some mental health issues
An increasing number of studies are linking a healthy gut to an improved mood and better mental health. Studies in both humans and animals have concluded that probiotic supplements can improve certain mental health conditions.
A review of 15 studies confirmed that taking Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium supplements for 1 to 2 months can relieve the symptoms of depression, anxiety, OCD and autism.
In addition, a study of 40 patients found that taking probiotic supplements for 2 months reduced levels of depression, along with levels of C-reactive protein and hormones such as insulin, compared with people who did not take probiotics.
4. Improve your cardiovascular health
Probiotics are believed to improve your heart health by lowering your bad cholesterol and blood pressure. Various lactic acid-producing bacteria can lower cholesterol by processing bile in the gut. Bile is a natural fluid that consists mainly of cholesterol and helps with digestion. When probiotics break down bile, they prevent it from being reabsorbed in the gut, where it can enter the bloodstream as cholesterol.
Five studies have found that consuming probiotic-rich yogurt for 2 to 8 weeks reduced total cholesterol levels by 4% and bad cholesterol levels by 5%. Another 6-month study failed to find changes in total or LDL cholesterol, but the researchers found a slight increase in “good” (HDL) cholesterol.
Taking enough probiotics can also lead to a reduction in blood pressure, as confirmed by a review of nine studies. Although the change was only mediocre, it was definitely there.
5. Reduce the Intensity of Eczema and Different Allergies
Some probiotic strains are thought to reduce the severity of eczema in infants and children. One study found that eczema symptoms improved in infants fed milk with probiotics, compared with infants fed regular milk.
Some probiotics can also help reduce inflammatory reactions in people who have allergies to dairy or milk. However, there is not enough research to support this evidence.
Top 5 Probiotic Foods Source
Perhaps the most popular food with top probiotics is yogurt – Greek or live, made from sheep’s, goat’s or cow’s milk. Yogurt in most cases can be ranked at the top of probiotic foods, as it comes from grass-fed animals and has not been pasteurized. When buying yogurt, it is recommended to pay attention to three things: it is organic, it comes from sheep’s or goat’s milk and it feeds on grass.
2. Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is great for managing blood pressure, diabetes, weight loss and cholesterol, among numerous other benefits. In addition it provides the body with a good dose of probiotics.
Another source of probiotic foods is Tempeh. This fermented Indonesian soy product is another excellent source of probiotics. You can consume it raw or by boiling it and consuming it with miso soup. You can also use it as a meat substitute in stir-fry
4. Dark chocolate
Probably the most appetizing food on the list, dark chocolate contains probiotics that are naturally present and therefore a great addition to your diet. Make sure you buy raw cocoa bars that have at least 70% cocoa.
5. Miso Soup
Miso is another source of probiotic foods. Hate soup is a combination of water and soy paste, along with optional seaweed and onions added to it. Although full of probiotics, miso soup is also high in salt, so it should not be consumed too often.
While naturally friendly bacteria are already present in your body, probiotics can be obtained from various food sources and supplements. Doctors usually recommend them to people with digestive problems. And because of their new popularity, you can find them in almost everything from yogurt to chocolate. If you experience digestion-related side effects (abdominal discomfort and gas) for more than a few days, consult your doctor immediately.
In people with weakened immune systems, probiotics can lead to serious infections. This includes people with AIDS, HIV and other similar conditions.
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