You probably try your best to follow a healthy diet which includes a wide range of nutrients – but is your food alive? In other words, do you include foods with probiotics in your diet?
Los alimentos probióticos son productos de lo más interesante. Contienen microorganismos (bacterias y hongos) capaces de mejorar tu salud. ¿Cómo lo hacen? No te pierdas este nuevo artículo, ¡te contaremos todos los secretos de estos alimentos tan saludables!
- Probiotic foods contain microorganisms which can help improve your health.
- The best probiotic foods include yogurt, kefir, kombucha, natto, and anything pickled.
- If you compare these foods to probiotic supplements, however, you’ll find that supplements offer higher concentrations of the “good” microorganisms. Plus, they’re easier to preserve and they travel better.
The Best Probiotic Foods
Probiotic foods tend to contain “good” bacteria or fungi. These feed on the product’s ingredients and convert them into other substances, a process we call fermentation. That’s how nutritious products high in probiotics are produced!
Let’s take a look at the most interesting foods with probiotics (1):
|Yogurt||Minimum required probiotics: Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus|
|Soft cheeses||Probiotics: Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium|
Vitamin A and vitamin B12
Minerals: calcium, phosphorus, selenium
|Pickled foods||Probiotics: Pediococcus pentosaceus and Lactobacillus|
Vitamin A and vitamin K
Minerals: calcium, sodium, potassium, magnesium
|Kefir||Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast (SCOBY): Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, Streptococcus termophilus, Saccharomyce, and others|
Vitamins A, C, and B
Minerals: calcium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium
|Kombucha||Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast (SCOBY) (Acetobacter, Saccharomyces, and others)|
|Natto||Special probiotic: Bacillus subtilis natto|
Vitamin C, B9 (folate), and K
Minerals: calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium
Essential nutrients: choline, omega-3, omega-6
By definition, yogurt must contain live probiotic bacteria. In other words, yogurt is the name we give milk fermented by two specific probiotics, Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. Otherwise, we would have a dairy drink or fermented milk, but not technically yogurt.
But what function do yogurt’s probiotics serve? The main benefit of these bacteria is their ability to create easier-to-digest products. What results is a nutrient-rich food full of calcium, vitamins, and proteins which the body absorbs optimally.
Studies have also shown that replacing unhealthy foods like candy and pastry with yogurt is a great idea. This change in habits can help you control your weight and reduce your future odds of becoming diabetic (2).
Seriously? Even cheese has probiotics? Well, only a few varieties. Gouda, cheddar, mozzarella, and cottage cheese all contain enough live probiotic bacteria to qualify. These are unpasteurised, non-sterilised cheeses, not suited for pregnant women or people with compromised immune defenses (3, 4, 5).
On top of probiotics, these cheeses provide vitamins (including A and B12), calcium, and phosphorus. Avoid overindulging, however, if you’re looking to reduce your fat or sodium intake.
What can survive living in a saltwater solution? Very special microorganisms, as it turns out! When food is submerged in water and salt (but not vinegar, which kills bacteria), certain microorganisms proliferate. These help preserve the products for months on end.
Pickles, sauerkraut, and kimchi are good examples of this. They’re high in vitamin K, a nutrient our bodies use to cure wounds, protect our bones, and care for our arteries.
Plus, these probiotic foods can keep us healthier overall. Kimchi, for example, contains anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. It’s also anti-hypertensive, meaning it helps lower blood pressure. In fact, this Korean staple could be one of the world’s healthiest meals (6)!
Have you heard of kefir, one of the world’s most ancient probiotic foods? This fermented milk beverage has been drunk for centuries in what is now Russia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia. It can be distinguished from yogurt by its liquid consistency and its probiotic content.
Kefir is produced by a group of microorganisms labeled SCOBY, or Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast. These organisms group together in granules of kefir, or “nodules”, and can then be used to create new batches of the product.
Plus, kefir offers a wider variety of probiotics than yogurt. It can help modify your intestinal flora and keep your liver healthy. It may also prevent premature aging. As if that weren’t enough, it could have anti-obesity effects. Incredible, isn’t it (7, 8, 9)?
To create kombucha, mixed colonies of microorganisms (SCOBYs) are also used. These cultivars then ferment green or black tea to create a delicious drink. It’s high in anti-aging compounds like polyphenols and flavonoids.
Some studies have also claimed that this drink may reduce cholesterol and help remove toxins. However, more viable results are still needed before accepting this hypothesis (10, 11).
Natto is a traditional Japanese breakfast food made from fermented soybeans. High in calcium, magnesium, and vitamin K, it’s produced by adding the Bacillus subtilis natto bacteria to soybeans.
This bacteria can certainly have positive effects on our intestinal flora. Natto also contains a compound called nattokinasa which could reduce blood pressure and even break up blood clots. Some experts have even wondered if natto could be the secret to high Japanese life expectancies (12)!
What You Need to Know About Probiotic Foods
Consuming probiotic foods will help you include “good” microorganisms in your diet. Pay close attention to this section, since it covers the questions that will help you maximise probiotics’ benefits!
What Are the Benefits of Probiotic Foods?
The effects of each individual product will depend on the strain or “family” of probiotics they contain. However, these foods generally have a few virtues in common (13, 14, 15):
- Easier Digestion: Probiotic bacteria ferments food and makes it easier to digest. As a result, the body absorbs nutrients better.
- Strong Defenses: It has been shown that consuming probiotics can lower the odds of diarrhoea after a course of antibiotic treatment.
- Farewell, Cholesterol: Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium probiotics may reduce your cholesterol levels, helping keep your arteries healthy.
However, further study is required to confirm these benefits. Do not use probiotics foods as a replacement for medical attention.
How Many Probiotic Servings Should I Eat in a Day?
Including one or two daily servings of food high in probiotics will suffice. Add a yogurt to your breakfast or pickled vegetables to your salad! Incorporate them into your routine, and soon you’ll be eating these foods without any conscious effort.
What Probiotic Foods Can Vegans Eat?
Do you follow the compassionate diet? If so, stay away from milk-based probiotic foods like yogurt and kefir. Opt for the soy-based alternatives and include pickled vegetables in your diet. Omnivore diets won’t have any advantage over yours if you do!
How Should I Preserve Probiotic Foods?
To enjoy all the beneficial effects of probiotic foods, keep them refrigerated and avoid exposing them to air and sunlight. Do not cook them, as this will deactivate and “kill” the probiotics.
Along similar lines, pasteurised products are not good sources of probiotics. The pasteurisation process uses heat to destroy germs. However, the process also kills the “good” bacteria. Read the labeling on your food and opt for the unpasteurised cheeses and yogurts to increase your probiotic intake kb_citation id=”14″].
Are There Any Risks to Probiotic Foods?
People with normal immune systems can eat probiotic foods with no fear. However, pregnant women, very young children, and people with compromised immune systems could develop serious infections as a result of these products.
These groups should eat pasteurised or cooked foods which have had all microorganisms removed. If you belong to one of these groups and wish to incorporate probiotics into your diet, ask a healthcare professional (5, 16).[ux_banner height=”500px” bg=”416″] [text_box position_x=”50″ position_y=”50″]
Probiotics are microorganisms, mainly bacteria, that have beneficial effects on the bacterial flora of the colon.[/text_box] [/ux_banner]
Are Probiotic Foods As Effective As Supplements?
Probiotic foods can enrich your diet and offer beneficial, healthy bacteria. However, they differ from probiotic supplements in multiple key ways (14):
- Food will not let you consume exact daily quantities of probiotics.
- Any change in food’s temperature or acidity can destroy the probiotics.
- Food generally does not provides less probiotic content per serving than supplements.
- Supplements allow more probiotics to enter our bodies active or “live, especially if they use microcapsule formulas which protect nutrients from digestive acids.
If you need probiotic treatment, therefore, we suggest you seek a doctor’s advice. Probiotic foods may improve your overall health but will not be as potent as these incredible supplements.
Probiotic foods contain beneficial microorganisms which ferment and “process” products to help us digest them better. If that’s not enough, probiotics also have the ability to enhance our overall health.
These foods may not be as effective as a probiotic supplement. However, you can still include them in your diet to improve your digestion, keep your cholesterol within healthy range, and prevent premature aging. Try more foods with probiotics – what are you waiting for?
Are you a fan of foods with probiotics? Feel free to tell us about your experiences, and don’t forget to share this article.