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. And 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 also show that these healthy critters may be linked to regulating digestion, reducing food cravings, contributing to a strong immune system, and even 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
- Increase absorption of nutrients
- Enhance immunity
- Rid your gut of carcinogens
- Maintain a healthy weight
Your 7-Day Challenge to Eat a Probiotic Food Daily
Day 2: Start simple: Greek yogurt with berries and cinnamon will make the perfect probiotic food to snack on today.
Day 3: Spice up a daily norm: Instead of mustard or hummus on your sandwich, try topping some fresh turkey breast with sauerkraut, whole grain mustard, and avocado.
Day 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.
Day 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, and packs a huge protein punch.
Day 7: Old pro!: Now that you’ve been eating probiotics all week, it should be easy to incorporate them into your favorite recipes. Try a savory yogurt sauce over your grilled chicken tonight. Or a tangy pickled ginger asian slaw at your next weekend barbecue.
Prep Steps and Tips
- Lactose beware! If you normally refrain from dairy products due to a lactose intolerance, you may want to test a good quality probiotic packed yogurt (don’t be shy about calling the yogurt brand and asking about the strain of probiotic in the product.) Certain probiotics can alleviate symptoms of lactose intolerance. Studies show that people with lactose intolerance better tolerate lactose in yogurt than in milk.
- Get them with food: 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. They can also help increase the absorption of protein, fat and other nutrients, which is why it’s important to get them from food even if you’re taking a supplement.
- Snack time! Snacks are the perfect opportunity to get a serving of probiotics in. Aside from yogurt and kefir, sour pickles and olives in brine make great snacks.
- Read carefully: 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.