Probiotic food. Gut health. Microbiome. Good bacteria. You’ve probably heard these health buzzwords thrown around a lot, but have you given them much thought? Why are they getting so much attention, and what even is considered ”good” bacteria?
Probiotics are the “friendly” bacteria found in fermented foods you eat like yogurt and kefir that will help create a healthy gut for you. A healthy gut is a happy gut, and we all want happy guts.
Probiotics are live microbes that are dubbed the “good” or “friendly” bacteria because they’re beneficial to your body. Every time you ingest food, trillions of these live bacteria in your organs (especially in your digestive tract or “gut”) actively break it down and process it.
These microscopic friends help to maintain our gut health, which we know is strongly tied to our overall health. Recent studies show that these healthy critters may be linked to regulating digestion, reducing food cravings, contributing to a strong immune system, boosting your mood, and maintaining a healthy weight.
So, in an effort to get your gut as happy as possible, I’m challenging you this week to eat one to two probiotic foods daily to keep your belly—and whole body—in tip-top shape.
What’s in It for You
1. Increased absorption of nutrients
2. Enhanced immunity
3. Help maintaining a healthy weight
4. Brain-boosting benefits
How to Eat a Probiotic Food Daily
1. Stock up
Head to the grocery store and stock up on fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, sour pickles, tempeh, kimchi, and kombucha. Pro tips: Some foods may be labeled as having “live and active cultures.” While probiotics are a type of live and active culture, not all live and active cultures are considered probiotics. When buying yogurt, look for labels that clearly state the specific strains of probiotics present. When buying foods like pickles and kraut, follow these guidelines to make sure you’re buying versions that are truly fermented rather than soaked in vinegar.
2. Start simple
Don’t over-complicate things; that will lead to getting overwhelmed. A bowl of Greek yogurt with berries and cinnamon is the perfect probiotic food to snack on today.
3. Spice up a daily norm
4. Make your smoothie gut-friendly
Replace the milk in your morning smoothie with kefir. Kefir contains protein and calcium like yogurt but has an even higher probiotic value. This tangy treat will give your smoothie a little kick. Get the perfect recipe, here.
5. Pick a new protein
If you usually eat chicken, beef, or fish for dinner, try substituting tempeh for your protein tonight. It makes a great “burger.” This fermented option made from whole soybeans is a great alternative to meat (just make sure you choose organic), and packs a huge protein punch.
6. Call in back up
Nutrients in your food work with the probiotics to give you a little more bang for your buck (for example, probiotics can increase the amount of folate, niacin ,and riboflavin you absorb from yogurt), so focus on food sources first. But I’m all for taking a probiotic supplement as insurance.
(Featured Photo: Shutterstock)