Probiotics are actually bacteria, but the good kind your body needs to maintain proper balance.
Probiotics live primarily within the gut where they balance out bad bacteria that can negatively impact your health. Probiotics keep the immune system strong to fight off illness and help the body properly break down food to extract nutrients and expel waste as needed.
There are several ways to get more probiotics, starting with your diet. Everyone knows yogurt contains probiotics -- and yogurt is a great place to start -- but if you’re lactose intolerant or vegan, you’re probably looking for other options.
These five foods all provide beneficial strains of probiotic bacteria and are much more accessible than you may think:
Probiotic Food: Kimchi
How to Enjoy It: Foods that are fermented pack big flavor as well as good bacteria. Kimchi is a popular Korean food item made from cabbage that’s been coated in chili paste and allowed to ferment. It’s spicy and crunchy and can be eaten on it’s own or on a sandwich.
Probiotic Food: Kombucha
How to Enjoy It: Whether you buy it at the store or make it yourself, kombucha is one of healthiest drinks out there. Produced from fermented black tea that’s also been sweetened, it has a very tart taste and fizzy texture and can be flavored with fruit.
Probiotic Food: Pickles
How to Enjoy It: Pickled cucumbers will also provide probiotics. Just make sure to find pickles that are organic and as unprocessed as possible to make sure all the nutritional compounds remain intact. Snack on one or slice and put on a sandwich -- who doesn’t like pickles?
Probiotic Food: Kefir
How to Enjoy It: Similar to yogurt, kefir has a thinner texture and is most often drank instead of eating with a spoon, which makes it the perfect base for smoothies and protein shakes. It’s made by combining milk with kefir grains.
Probiotic Food: Miso Soup
How to Enjoy It: Made from fermented soybeans, miso paste can be added to hot water for delicious soup in seconds. This paste is also produced using lactic acid, which is why it’s naturally rich in probiotics.
If you remain concerned you aren’t getting enough probiotics into your diet, a supplement can help. Supplements are especially beneficial for those with severe digestive issues or anyone whose immune system might be compromised due to illness or certain medications, like antibiotics. Your doctor can help you determine the best dosage and length of treatment, as there is no standard recommended daily allowance.
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