Can germs ever be a good thing? That’s the case with “friendly” bacteria known as probiotics. We often think that germs are dangerous because they can cause health problems like infections. However, in recent decades scientists have been focusing on the importance of having a high ratio of good/bad bacteria. Fun Fact: The body has up to 100 trillion microbes. So, it turns out there are more bacteria than cells in the human body. Good bacteria are helpful for the body and critical for gut health after learning how to choose a probiotic.
There are different ways you can boost your probiotic intake. They include foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, and miso soup. These foods are fermented, which causes healthy bacteria to form. This can help to balance the bacteria in your body so you have a higher percentage of healthy germs. Another option is probiotic supplements. This is another way to get more good bacteria in your diet. However, there are many products on the market so it can be tough to pick the right one for your needs. There are several factors to consider like form, ingredients, and quantity. Considering these options can help you to choose wisely and get the best health benefits.
What Exactly Are Probiotics?
Let’s start with what probiotics are all about. these are live bacteria/yeast that are “friendly” germs. they provide several benefits but are especially critical for gut health and the digestive system. How many microbes does the human body have? It depends on who you ask but it’s in the tens of trillions.
The body contains both good and bad bacteria. You might hear probiotics classified as good/friendly/helpful bacteria. That’s because they’re important for gut health. You can boost your body’s probiotics through both food and supplements. For example, options like Greek yogurt can provide good bacteria to improve your digestion.
Scientists are still learning about how probiotics work. However, they already know that they can provide several health benefits. For example, they can balance good/bad bacteria so your body functions better. Probiotics can also replace good bacteria that are lost through reasons like antibiotics.
There are various types of bacteria. They have technical names so it’s important to talk to your doctor about which probiotics are ideal for you. This can help you make the best choices.
Probiotics have various functions. One of the main ones is to improve digestion by affects things like nerves so food goes through the digestive system smoothly. Scientists are still studying how good germs work.
They can also help with:
- Cold/allergy prevention
- Diarrhea caused by bacteria, viruses, or parasites
- Dental health
- Skin conditions
- urinary health
- Antibiotic-caused diarrhea
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
You should talk to your doctor about the ideal probiotics for your situation related to various factors. They include your health conditions, current medicines/supplements, etc.
There are also some mild side-effects you might experience when you start taking probiotics. They include stomach problems, bloating, etc. You also might experience some allergic reactions. However, these tend to be mild side-effects and often don’t last long-term after you start taking probiotics.
How to Choose a Probiotic
When selecting a probiotic there are several options. The key is to know which options are available and how to choose wisely. The key is to help maintain an ideal balance of good/bad bacteria. For example, if the balance is off then you can correct the situation by adding a probiotic supplement.
However, there are some big issues. They include whether you’re taking the “right” probiotics. Another possible issue is whether or not they’re going to improve your health. These are both critical issues to take up.
When selecting a probiotic supplement, it’s critical to pick one that includes live/active cultures. When you read the supplement’s packaging these features should be mentioned. If they’re not, then you should skip out on the supplement and select another one.
When picking a supplement go with ones that have 1+billion microbes. you should also look for certain kinds of probiotics. This is all a very technical issue. However, it’s worth doing your homework so you’ll know the basics about which probiotics to go with.
Even buying yogurt can be a little tricky. for example, when selecting one there are various factors like the types of bacteria contained in the dairy product. There are basic bacteria you can find in yogurt. However, some products include extra bacteria that can add extra health benefits.
Experts generally recommend going with well-studied brands. If you pick store brands, you’re less likely to get those extra bacteria. This doesn’t make the yogurt “unhealthy” but less healthy than it could be in terms of probiotics.
Another option is probiotic supplements. You can certainly boost your intake of good bacteria this way. However, the main drawback is food is always the best source of nutrients. It’s better to go with sauerkraut, kimchi, and kefir (fermented dairy) since these are direct sources of probiotics. You’ll generally get better nutrition from food versus supplements.
Top Probiotic Foods
This is the main ingredient in miso soup. It’s usually produced from fermented soybeans and combined with a fungus and salt. traditional Japanese food can also be made by blending soybeans with other ingredients like rice, barley, and rye. Miso sop is easily the most well-known dish made from miso. It’s a popular breakfast food and often salty.
This is one of the best-known and best foods for probiotics. It’s loaded with friendly bacteria to boost gut health. You can go with regular yogurt or thicker Greek yogurt. Both are excellent options for various reasons. Besides the probiotics, you’re also getting healthy fats, calcium, and Vitamin D.
This is a traditional Korean food that’s fermented/spicy. Cabbage is usually used to make the food although it can be made from other veggies like radishes and greens. I include several herbs/spices like red chilis, ginger, garlic, and scallions. The food contains several nutrients like Vitamin B2/K and iron. It also has various lactic acid bacteria that can boost gut health.
This is a classic German food that’s made by fermenting cabbage with bacteria known as lactic acid. This is one of the oldest fermented food and is very popular in Europe in particular. You can consume this food as a side dish or sausage topping. Sauerkraut has a salty/sour taste.
Sauerkraut provides several other nutrients. They include Vitamins Bs/C/K, manganese, iron, and fiber. Another key benefit of sauerkraut is it’s high in certain antioxidants that can boost eye health.
These are fermented cucumbers that are made in a salt/water solution. The fruit ferments for a while using the lactic acid contained in the cucumbers. It’s what provides the sour taste. This food provides many healthy bacteria that might boost digestion after learning how to choose a probiotic.