What are probiotics: Top probiotic supplements, foods, uses & benefits review
With terms like ‘antibacterial’ and ‘antibiotic’ circling all around us, it’s hard not to see bacteria as something dreadful. But as much as we’ve become conditioned to detest them, some bacteria are vital to our well-being. Known as probiotics, these live organisms possess amazing healing powers.
From indigestion to autoimmune diseases, probiotics help fend off and manage a variety of health conditions. It’s a shame most people have no clue about what probiotics are and how to use them in their diet. Our guide will remedy this situation. Below, you’ll find the key things that everyone should know about probiotics from a trusted source, The Probiotics Review.
Exactly What Are Probiotics?
The term ‘probiotic’ has origin in both Latin and Greek. ‘Pro’ is ‘for’ in Latin, and ‘biotic’ stems from the Greek word ‘bios,’ which means ‘life.’ In essence, ‘probiotic’ stands for ‘promoting life,’ and such a meaning is in no way coincidental.
Studies show, time and again, that the balance of bacteria in the digestive tract holds the key to good health. When harmful bacteria in the gut take over, they contribute to a slew of health conditions and chronic diseases. Probiotics keep these harmful bacteria on a tight leash.
It comes as no surprise then that diets rich in probiotic foods and supplements deliver an array of health benefits. Sadly, many dieters miss out on these one-of-a-kind benefits because they aren’t aware of what probiotics can deliver.
Let’s take a closer look at what these unique health benefits are.
Health Benefits of Probiotics You Should Not Ignore
Nutrition programs that allow for an abundant supply of probiotics may help:
- Alleviate autoimmune conditions Healthy balance of gut bacteria is closely linked to reduced inflammation, both inside the digestive tract and throughout the body. This in turn proves to be therapeutic for people suffering from autoimmune conditions, ranging from arthritis to allergy.
- Improve cardiovascular health Some studies indicate that probiotics may lower both total and “bad” LDL cholesterol by helping the body break down bile. Likewise, other studies show that consuming enough probiotics may also lead to a modest decrease in blood pressure.
- Promote faster fat loss Some probiotics, namely Lactobacillus rhamnosus, have been shown to accelerate fat loss by ensuring a lasting feeling of satiety. The likely reason is that probiotics improve the absorption of protein and increase the levels of hormones that curb hunger.
- Boost immune function By keeping at bay the growth of harmful bacteria in the digestive tract, probiotics provide support for the immune system. For instance, according to some research, getting enough probiotics helps lower both the chance and the severity of respiratory infections.
- Protect brain health As one review suggests, probiotics may help improve the functions of central nervous system and safeguard mental health. Probiotics have been shown to reduce the harshness of anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive, and other disorder-related behaviors.
- Make digestion more efficient Though obvious, this effect of probiotics is often taken for granted. From bloating and flatulence to diarrhea and constipation, probiotics can make many digestive issues magically go away. And yet, so many people routinely suffer from these issues.
As you can see, there are many reasons to reinforce your diet with foods that are rich in probiotics but how can you tell which foods have what it takes to supply you with them?
Top Probiotic Foods to Enrich Your Diet With
You can’t go wrong with using food as the main source of probiotics in your diet. Only fermented foods, however, contain enough probiotics to deliver their unique benefits.
What does fermenting have to do with probiotics?
In a nutshell, fermenting is a time-tested way to preserve food and make it more nutritious. Fermenting enriches foods with enzymes, vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, and you’ve guessed it – probiotics.
Without further ado, below are some of the best fermented foods you can try:
- Fermented vegetables like sauerkraut, pickled cucumbers and tomatoes, or kimchi.
- Fermented drinks like kombucha or kvass.
- Fermented milk products like kefir, yogurt, buttermilk, or some types of cheese.
- Fermented soy products like tempeh, miso, or natto.
How much of these foods should you consume on a regular basis, though?
There’s no clear-cut answer. If we take a look at the so-called standard American diet – aka SAD – we’ll hardly notice any fermented foods present. Is it so surprising then that people sticking to this dietary pattern often suffer from gastrointestinal and other health problems?
For most people, the guideline is simple: include as many fermented foods in your diet as you can.
In some cases, though, fermented foods alone may not suffice.
Best Probiotic Supplements to Take for Each Goal
Sometimes, the delicate balance of bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract may be too disrupted. And even fermented foods wouldn’t work their magic. Artificial sweeteners in foods and supplements have these devastating effects on gut flora, and so do smoking, alcohol, and antibiotics.
Provided that the cause of the problem is addressed, probiotic supplements may be helpful.
Most probiotic supplements focus on the strains of these main probiotic species:
- Bifidobacteria This type supports digestion by breaking down carbs and fiber. It also boosts the immune function by fending off harmful bacteria and yeast in the gut. The key strains of this species are B. longum, B. breve, B. lactis, and B. animalis.
- Lactobacilli Besides improving digestion, this type may support oral health and protect urinary health in women. Its key strains include L. acidophilus and L. reuteri.
- Saccharomyces boulardii Acting as a probiotic, this yeast can alleviate digestive problems and may also help treat inflammatory conditions in the gut.
Most people need to supplement a blend of all types. Some may benefit more from zeroing in on one type. Beware that probiotic supplements deliver probiotics in a concentrated form. This calls for precise dosing – and under the guidance of a qualified health care professional. Wait no longer.
Let probiotics take your diet to the next level.