For those who are lucky enough to travel the world, a common problem we might face is getting sick while abroad.
Never has it been more important to have great gut health, especially in today’s globalized world.
On any given day we might enjoy food that has come from all over the world, showing that not only travelers should be concerned about the health benefits of probiotics.
What are the health benefits of probiotics?
The health benefits of probiotics can extend itself from boosting your immune system all the way to fighting food borne illnesses. Control of your gut has been shown to improve health on a deeper level. Some scientist go even further and believe all of our health problems start in our gut!
Bacterial Gastroenteritis is a bacterium that causes an infection in your gut.
One of the ways bacterial gastroenteritis tends to develop is from contamination of food sources by bacteria. We commonly know this as “food poisoning.”
Do probiotics have side effects?
While some people will face side effects due to probiotics, the side effects tend to be mild and digestive such as gas.
While certain bacteria’s are very harmful, probiotics and prebiotics are good bacteria’s that can be very beneficial for your digestive system and even protects you from bad bacteria.
What are Prebiotics and Probiotics?
Probiotics are living bacteria that are great for your health and digestive system. Probiotics can help your immune system while promoting a healthy digestive tract.
Probiotic comes from two Greek root words “pro” meaning “to promote” and “biotic” which means “life.”
Prebiotic is a nondigestible carbohydrate that acts as food for probiotics and bacteria in your gut. Prebiotic comes before and helps the probiotic. When the two combine we have what we call synbiotics.
Do probiotics help fight off infection?
Elia Metchnikoff also was known as the father of probiotics had discovered probiotics in the 20th century. Metchnikoff had observed the long life span of rural dwellers in Bulgaria. Metchnikoff theorized that host friendly bacteria found in sour milk enhanced their health.
There are billions of bacteria living in your digestive tract and colon. This environment of bacteria is called a microbiome. Your stool has over 70% bacteria and is a mixture specific to each individual.
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Auto Immune diseases such as Crohn’s, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, are more common in first world nations than less developed countries. The reason why this happens is called Hygiene Hypothesis.
The hygiene hypothesis is a term that suggests affluent societies have children who are less exposed to a variety of gut bacteria found in other parts of the world, which suppresses the natural development of the immune system.
Our diet is also greatly affected by the development of our autoimmune system. If our guts are not healthy the way it should, western diets that are high in fats, sugar, and meats, will be more susceptible to stomach diseases even obesity and type II diabetes.
A quick Biological tour of Prebiotics:
The majority of prebiotics are identified as oligosaccharides, which are resistant to our human digestive enzymes. Oligosaccharide passes through our upper Gastro Intestinal system without being digested. Fermentation then happens in our lower colon producing short-chain fatty acids, which nourish the microbiota that lives there.
The bulk of oligosaccharides can be obtained from natural sources such as asparagus, artichoke bananas, bamboo shoots, soybean, honey, garlic, sugar, leeks, sugarcane, tomato, mustards, and milk.
Over 500 species of Bacteria!
There are over 500 species of bacteria that help break down food, ward off pathogens, and strengthen our immune system. This colossal of a group has over trillions of microbes. These microbes bind themselves to the lining of your gut, aiding in the digestion of the gut, and stimulates the immune system.
Research has even found gut health to be tied with depression and stress. The researchers found that those who took Lactobacillus rhamnosus suffered less anxiety, stress, and depression related issues.
A daily dose of probiotic is essential for anyone who is trying to overcome autoimmune disease or other serious illnesses.
Also read: Argan Oil Benefits
What are the health benefits of Probiotics?
Not only do probiotics help with treating gastrointestinal complications, it’s also useful for constipation, irritable bowl-syndrome, and preventing and treating various cancers.
For mothers who are pregnant or have small children, the results are even better. Probiotics have been shown to help postmenopausal women increase calcium absorption as well as bone calcium accretion and bone mineral density.
Two types of Probiotics:
The first type of probiotic is known as Lactobacillus. It’s two most commonly found in yogurt and fermented products such as kefir. The type of probiotic can help those with issues in digesting lactose and sugar in milk. This strain of probiotic has also been known to help with diarrhea.
The second type of probiotic is known as Bifidobacterium. It’s known to help with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and can be found in some dairy products. Ask your doctor which is best for you.
The purpose of probiotics:
The main aim for probiotics is to help move food through your gut. The importance of a healthy regulated bowel movement is more important than one would think. When we hear about issues such as infectious diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, and inflammatory bowel disease, regulations and health of your digestive tract is one of the first sources your doctor will check.
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So why do we need microbes and probiotics?
Microbes are a really small organism (Fungi, parasites, viruses, bacteria) that wields tremendous power in misbalancing your body, which can lead to numerous related diseases and complications. These microorganisms can be found everywhere on your body, skin, nose, and gut. In comparison to human cells, these bacteria outnumber human cells 10 to 1. The role of the gut microbiome in Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and esophageal cancer is a huge sign in the importance of our stomach health.
How much probiotics should we take?
The strength of probiotics depends on the quantity of Colony Forming Units (CFU). The majority of healthcare practitioners recommend taking around 3-5 billion CFU’s daily. Getting this amount is a little difficult if you don’t have the right product of probiotic supplements.
90% of probiotics supplements don’t have the potency level you need in order to fulfill the 3-5 billion CFU’s. So do your research and make sure the company you buy from has a high percentage of CFU’s per bottle.
How to avoid bacterial gastroenteritis?
It would not be fair if I didn’t include how to avoid getting a stomach virus after all this information about gut health. So I compiled a simple guide to help protect yourself and others:
- Make sure to always use separate cutting boards, knives, and utensils for raw and cooked meat
- If traveling, avoid consuming unpasteurized products such as raw meat, raw shellfish, and milk
- Make sure to always wash your hands thoroughly
- Make sure to always wash your salads and vegetables
- Make sure to store food properly
- Clean your kitchen!
- Wash your hands after the bathroom, when dealing with animals, before handling food, and before eating
- Make sure to drink bottled water when traveling abroad
- Take recommended vaccines and probiotics
Also read: Honey and Cinnamon Benefits
What are Probiotics?
We all harbor 1,000s of different types of bacteria that live in our gut (digestive tracts) which help us digest food, absorb nutrients, and fight off viruses.
If you don’t have enough probiotics, the side effects can range from digestive disorders, candida, frequent colds/flu’s, skin issues as well as autoimmune diseases.
While we used to have plenty of probiotics in our daily diets from the natural foods we used to consume, unfortunately, we can’t say the same is true for today.
In short, probiotics are bacteria in your digestive tract that play an essential role in your body’s ability to fight off infections and absorb nutrients. There are far more probiotics in your gut than there are cells in your body – just let that sink in for a minute.
Knowing what we know from science today, having a healthy and functional gut is critical for anyone looking to live a long life.
The reason for this is because most diseases and bacteria stem from the gut, making it the center for a healthy body and digestive system.
Probiotics benefit our bodies much more than gut health; since it’s the fortress for our body’s health, maintaining a clean and functional gut will come back multiple folds in benefit down the line.
We are born with probiotics within us, passed down from the womb of our mothers.
We’re all in need of more probiotics (including children), especially when you consider the amount of poison the average person puts into their body.
The best probiotics are those that are found in the everyday food we eat – however, there’s also always an alternative option for those who can’t fit enough probiotics into their diet.
We’ll talk more about probiotic supplements later in this post.
What do Probiotics do?
Now that you know what is a probiotic, we’ll dive into what they actually do.
Since probiotics live in our digestive tracts, they aid in a variety of different ways; they help protect our gut health and overall body, they aid in the absorption process of crucial minerals and vitamins, they lend a hand in the production of enzymes and B-Vitamins that are essential for our health, they play a critical role in the modulation process – being an important player in your body’s inflammatory response, and lastly, they improve your intestine’s overall motility and function.
How Do Probiotics Work?
The well-being of our digestive tracts can only be assured by taking good care of our bodies – that is to say, to watch what we eat!
While this may sound like a no-brainer to many, it’s a struggle for millions around the globe.
With a significant proportion of today’s’ society being addicted to fast food (processed foods), chemicals/drugs, it’s become harder for many to maintain the proper gut health that’s so key in living a healthy life.
The different probiotics help in different ways, each one lending a hand in the essential roles and primary functions of the gut and digestive tract.
The way they work is by helping your body in multiple ways – from providing aid to your immune system to improving digestive function and overall gut health.
Probiotics for Weight Loss
Taking probiotics for weight loss is another great way to utilize the benefits of probiotics. While it is not exactly clear how probiotics directly influence weight loss, there is a plethora of overwhelming evidence that suggests it correlating with weight loss.
It’s not hard to imagine that either, given that probiotics benefit your gut health – the center of your digestive system.
One can assume that having a clean and healthy guy will also lead to the better overall performance of your body’s digestive system, which can lead to other indirect benefits of probiotics (in this case, weight loss).
Recently, a study conducted at Stanford University showed that probiotics were effective in aiding post-surgery obese patients in maintaining low amounts of body fat.
Another reason that probiotics and weight loss go hand in hand is the fact that gut bacteria may affect your body’s weight regulation.
There’s another study that shows probiotics benefitting weight loss by improving the gut’s inflammation. This is a severe issue for many suffering from obesity, and doing something about it can be as simple as adding probiotic yogurt to your diet.
While it’s important to get to a healthy weight, that’s only half the job! It’s equally, if not more important to maintain that low body fat (or ideal target weight) that you’ve been aiming for and working hard to reach.
The great thing about certain types of probiotics is that they can even prevent you from gaining weight.
Multiple studies have shown patients who took probiotics to have much lower body fat % as well as weight when compared to patients who hadn’t during the same period.
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Top Probiotics Killers
In order to maintain a healthy gut, make sure to avoid the following probiotic killers. These will hinder your gut’s health in the long run – especially when in excess.
I know it can be difficult in today’s age, where most of the food that most people are used to eating contain many of the things that are detrimental to good gut health.
Some of those things include high amounts of consumption of chlorinated and fluoridated water, as well as many convenience foods like non-organic meats and different dairy products, all which contain antibiotic residues.
Here are some things to stay away from:
- Prescription Antibiotics
- Tap Water
- GMO Foods
- Stress (Emotional Pain)
- Chemicals & Other Medications
While many of us come in contact with many of these on a daily basis, it’s critical for us to be aware of these different toxins and stressors in order for us to not be affected by them.
Although many of these are inevitable for some, others are suffering from addiction to foods and products that are horrible for your gut health.
It’s important to understand that if these problems are left unaddressed, you are risking your gut micro-organisms becoming completely unbalanced.
That means it can become a breeding ground for many different types of viruses and bad bacteria – including parasites and fungi too!
This adds to all the reasons why having a nutritious diet that consists of raw probiotics is becoming more important than ever before.
The Best Probiotics Benefits List
The benefits of probiotics range far and wide, which is why we’ve put together a short & concise list of proven probiotics benefits that stand out from the rest.
There are tons of different benefits of probiotics derived from different types of probiotic foods, from promoting better overall health and building a stronger immune system, to healing mental health illness as well as digestive disorders.
Without further ado, here is a list of 15 proven benefits of probiotics that you should be aware of. Take notes people!
15 Benefits of Probiotics
- Reduces colds & flu’s
- Fights off food borne illnesses
- Prevents & treats kidney stones
- Reduces the overuse of antibiotics
- Improves overall digestive function
- Prevents eczema (with children)
- Prevents & removes acne
- Boosts body’s immune system
- Helps with weight loss
- Heals inflammation in bowels
- Prevents & treats urinary tract infections
- Lowers cholesterol
- Promotes oral health
- Depression & Anxiety
Although there are much more that can be mentioned here, this list should be sufficient in showing how valuable and important probiotics really are.
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Where to Find the Best Probiotic Foods
You see many people buying probiotic supplements, and while that is a great alternative to getting more probiotics in your diet, it’s still should only be the 2nd option.
If you’re able (meaning you can afford and physically able) to get your probiotics from real foods, then that will give you the best bang for your buck.
The reason for that is because your body is your #1 priority, and taking care of it by investing in quality foods will give you the biggest return on investment – a healthier, longer life.
The best probiotic foods can be found in our list below. Keep in mind that many of these are also great natural remedies that come in handy for a variety of different things.
Top 12 Best Probiotic Foods
Probiotic Yogurt – Amongst the most popular forms of probiotic foods is undoubtedly live cultured yogurt. Most commonly made from goats, sheep or cows, many have claimed yogurt to be the best probiotic food source.
Some argue that the animal must be grass-fed organically, however that should still not deter you from benefitting from this amazing source of probiotics.
Unpasteurized Cheese – Raw aged cheeses particularly include high amounts of probiotics, especially when derived from the goat and sheep.
They also contain high amounts of thermophillus, acidophilus, bulgaricus and bifidus. Makes sure to buy the cheese raw, however, buying it pasteurized will not be getting you any of the probiotic benefits.
To name a few examples of cheeses that contain high amounts of probiotics are the following; Gouda, Cheddar, Provolone, and Gruyere.
While being one of the best sources of probiotic foods, cheese also provides many other benefits to your body – such as weight loss (great news for cheese lovers?).
This is due to the high amounts of protein and calcium found in cheese, effectively improving your digestive system by stabilizing your metabolism, which ultimately leads to weight loss.
Be careful not to have a cheese overload on your next order of pizza!
Buttermilk – Since we’re already on the topic of great dairy probiotic foods, buttermilk is another great one to add to the list due to it also being a lacto-fermented dairy product.
This means that lactose intolerant individuals can have buttermilk since the lactose protein within it has already been converted into lactic acid.
Another great thing about buttermilk is that it’s nutrient dense, packed with protein, calcium, riboflavin, potassium, vitamin B12 – all while being low in fat and calories!
Buttermilk makes great for an effective energy booster, an acid stomach reliever, and improving overall digestion.
Kombucha – Kombucha is started by using a SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast), which in turn gets you the effervescent fermentation of black tea.
While kombucha benefits include digestive system support, liver detoxification, and increased energy, they are also a great source of probiotics.
Most commonly served as a brewed tea, it is believed to improve your body’s digestion while protecting and fighting off dangerous viruses such as candida.
Apple Cider Vinegar – While apple cider vinegar is not a probiotic itself, it carries an ingredient that is very helpful to probiotics (especially when taken together). That ingredient is fermented apples – which contain a very important ingredient that’s essential for having a good digestion.
That ingredient is called pectin, and often times it is confused with apple cider vinegar benefits due to the fact that it promotes healthy bacteria growth in the gut.
Those bacteria are no other than probiotics. You get the picture here (they’re a team!).
Dark Chocolate – While also being delicious and packed with nutrients, dark chocolate contains high amounts of probiotics as well as antioxidants – both which will satisfy your tummy in many different ways!
Many are surprised to find out that dark chocolate is a probiotic food. One thing to note about dark chocolate is that it has antioxidants, something milk doesn’t have.
One thing to keep in mind, however, is that it’s best to have your probiotic foods at the beginning of your meal.
That means those who usually have dessert after dinner are usually missing the window by a bit!
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Kefir – Another great probiotic food that also contains high amounts of vitamin A & D, kefir is a milk based beverage that’s very similar that closely resembles yogurt in flavor.
A cultured, milk like product with a tart and sometimes sour taste, the drink is made from kefir grains (unlike wheat) that are made from yeast and bacteria.
Kefir can also be consumed by lactose intolerant people. This is because the bacteria and yeast provide an enzyme that consumes almost all the lactose that’s left over after the culturing process is completed.
Like many other cultured dairy products, Kefir provides a replenishing amount of protein, vitamin B12, and calcium too. Due to its well balanced, nourishing nature, kefir has been given to patients who are suffering from AIDS, cancer, herpes, chronic fatigue syndrome, and more.
It’s tranquilizing effect on the body’s nervous system makes it extremely beneficial for people who suffer from sleeping disorders and ADHD.
On top of all this and more, kefir helps promote healthy bowel movements and helps reduce flatulence when taken regularly.
Miso Soup – Miso is a traditional Japanese seasoning that is made from soybeans that have been fermented in koji and salt. It has been a staple ingredient in the Japanese diet for thousands of years.
Since miso soup is fermented, it’s filled with extremely beneficial live probiotic cultures that contain a lot more benefits than you may think.
On top of being a great probiotic food, a study conducted in Japan has found it to be a great source of many different essential nutrients, including minerals, salts, vitamins, microorganisms, carbs, and fats to name a few.
They also contain phytonutrients, which are known to contain cancer-fighting properties. It’s also beneficial for controlling cholesterol, oxidative stress and inflammation.
Commonly found at many sushi restaurants, miso soup is extremely good for your digestive system – it’s best to take before your meal to nourish your body and get you ready for the meal!
Kimichi – A traditional Korean staple that dates back to thousands of years, it’s a fermentation method that was used to preserve vegetables during the country’s long, harsh winters.
There are countless variations of Kiamichi but they all have one thing in common; they are extremely healthy probiotic foods.
There are numerous studies that show it to have rich contents of probiotics, and what makes it even better is that it also contains high amounts of vitamin A, C, B1, B2, calcium, beta-carotene, and even iron.
The reason for this is because kimichi contains the bacterium called ‘lactobacillus kimichii’ and other types of lactic acid bacteria that are very beneficial to both your gastrointestinal and immune system.
Very similar to sauerkraut (some say they’re cousins), it’s the Korean version of cultured veggies.
Sauerkraut – Like kimichi, sauerkraut is also a dish made from fermented cabbage that’s packed with vitamins, minerals and is also a great probiotic food. Originating in Germany, sauerkraut is often brought up in many discussions that revolve around probiotic foods.
It contains antioxidants and high amounts of organic acids which support the growth of good bacteria in your gut. It also contains high amounts of vitamin C and other beneficial digestive enzymes.
Although the dish is very popular and originates in Germany, it’s also known by many in America as well as many different European countries as well. For this reason, you will find that sauerkraut comes in many different styles.
In the USA for example, you may find it as a common side item on a hot dog cart that is usually served on the bun.
Pickles – Believe it or not, an ordinary green pickle is excellent for your digestive system as well. This is due to the bacteria that it contains (taken from the brine that’s used to do the pickling), effectively aiding the body’s overall gut health.
Pickle juice, a rich source of electrolytes, has also been shown to help relieve muscle cramps caused by exercise.
Many pregnant women crave pickles, and it’s no wonder why. Being that it’s among the great natural probiotic foods, it has the potential to also be the gateway to different types of exotic, fermented foods.
Tempeh – Tempeh is another probiotic food that’s formed from fermented soybeans. It’s mostly recognized by vegetarians who use it as a substitute for meat in their meals.
It offers the same benefits as tofu but comes with much more nutrients, flavor and overall taste & texture.
Tempeh contains good amounts of magnesium, calcium, and even iron.
This firm white block is not only packed with proteins, but it also has more calories, fiber, and probiotics than tofu (also soy based).
Also read: Fenugreek Benefits
Which Probiotics are Best?
Probiotic food sources range in a lot of different ways; from the ingredients to the fermentation and preparation.
While it’s impossible to say that there is one ‘best probiotic supplement’ or source, we can say that any combination of the above-mentioned sources of probiotics should be sufficient.
Best Probiotics for Men
When it comes to probiotics for men, it’s important to keep in mind that there are different types of probiotics that act in different ways (depending on a lot of factors).
Whether it’s for boosting immune health or promoting better digestion, you’ll need to first examine and assess your own needs and then find the probiotic source that best matches your needs.
Probiotics for men are especially useful for promoting good urinary tract health, as well as cardiovascular health.
The best probiotics for men can be found at your local grocery store (if you’re looking for probiotic foods). If you’re looking for probiotic supplements, Amazon has a great collection online.
Best Probiotics for Women
The same advice goes for those seeking the best probiotics for women. There isn’t really one answer since we’re all in need of having diverse probiotic rich foods in our diets.
However, it’s important to remember that probiotics are especially beneficial for women – specifically those concerned with urinary and vaginal health.
For those suffering from a certain type of probiotic deficiency, they should look into the types of foods that would balance it out and provide the aid they’re looking for.
Best Probiotics for Children
Probiotics benefit children by preventing antibiotic associated diarrhea, as well as promoting good bowel health.
Studies show that children with more ‘good’ probiotics have fewer issues pertaining to their intestinal gut health.
You’re never too young to be able to benefit from probiotics!
Best Baby Probiotics
Studies show that upwards of 80% of women have a vaginal infection when they give birth. As a result of that, they pass dangerous pathogens to their newborns instead of the ‘good’ bacteria that are necessary for creating a solid foundation of wellness.
Babies who lack an abundance of the beneficial bacteria needed will most likely suffer from different kinds of gastrointestinal pains, such as gas reflux and colic.
There is also evidence of probiotics being critical for the prevention of allergies in newborns.
If you’re wondering whether or not you should be introducing your baby to probiotics, you should consult your doctor.
However, if you’re looking for a probiotic food source for your baby, it’s often recommended to start off by introducing them to fermented foods and drinks slowly, by gradually feeding them small amounts.
Probiotics Side Effects
The side effects of probiotics are generally non-existent (if you’re not counting the positives). The only probiotics side effect you should worry about is diarrhea – which can occur when taking too much too fast.
To start, ease into it by only taking 1 tablespoon. Then gradually increase the serving amount as your body adapts.
Best Probiotic Supplements
Many often ask, what is the best probiotic supplements? The answer to that question is; it varies. There are many different probiotic supplement blends that have their own unique mixture of vitamins and minerals.
If you’re looking for the best probiotic supplement for yourself, you should ask yourself what type of probiotics you’re in need of most, then move forward from there.
Best Probiotic Reviews
Finding the best probiotic supplement to match your needs can be a difficult task, which is why we recommend you look for other reviews of probiotics that were given by others who purchased that product.
A general rule of thumb is 3 & ½ star minimum review feedback rating for a quality probiotic supplement.
It’s always helpful to get another person’s feedback and perspective, that way you can gather insight on whether or not their solution is something that you’re seeking as well.
While probiotic foods may not be the most desirable, they’re only increasing in importance in today’s age. When we look around and see the large amounts of addiction to toxic chemicals and foods, it can be argued that there’s never been a time where probiotics mattered more.
Having a nutritious diet that contains rich amounts of probiotics from multiple sources is a great way to protect oneself from the toxic and harmful chemicals that surround us and our environment.
Our body will only repay us the amount that we invest into it. Let’s make an effort not to neglect the very thing that harbors our health and existence.
What type of probiotic food/supplement do you enjoy?