PROBIOTICS 101 | What you need to know

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Probiotics. We’ve all heard of them. They seem to be added to all types of food, from milk to chocolate. With “probiotic products” so readily available it can be confusing to know what is best for you and your family.

WHAT ARE PROBIOTICS

Let’s start with what probiotics are. This helpful bacteria is a broad term for a variety of good bacteria that aid our digestive system. Just like antibiotics there are various strains of these bacteria and they each perform a little differently. Ingesting probiotics one time is about as effective as one antibiotic pill. You have to be consistent.

DO I NEED PROBIOTICS?

Everyone can benefit from adding good bacteria to their diet when done responsibly. Going overboard on these helpful bacteria can lead to gas and bloating. Enjoying appropriate amounts of probiotics can help regulate regular bowel movement (therefore reducing gas and bloating). It has also been found to boost your immune system. Doctors recommend a regimen of acidophilus for individuals with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) to help control symptoms. They are also very effective in reducing the symptoms and time frame of infectious diarrhea or diarrhea caused by antibiotics.

WHERE TO FIND THEM?

Figuring out the best way to add these little beneficial microorganisms to your diet can be confusing with so many items flooding the market. The best way for most people to incorporate probiotics is by enjoying foods that produce probiotics naturally. This is also the safest way for children to have these in their diet. Eating a serving a day can keep the upset tummy away.

There are multiple lists of what foods are best when looking to add these to your diet. The thing that the majority of these foods have in common is natural fermentation.

This list is just a few of the most commonly available foods that contain live probiotics.

  • Kefir
  • Sauerkraut
  • Soft fermented cheese
  • Kombucha tea
  • Miso
  • Tempeh (fermented soybeans)
  • Kimchi
  • Yogurt is also a popular source, just be sure to read the label careful and select a good quality yogurt with fewer additives.

Enjoying foods like these daily is important to the effectiveness of probiotics. If you have just read through that list and thought, “No way I can eat that stuff every day.” Then you should consider a probiotic supplement. Look for one that contains at least 10 billion bacteria per capsule. Keep in mind that probiotics are a food substance not regulated like over the counter medications.

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