Five Things You Need to Know: Probiotics
Probiotics are foundational to good health. Hwre are SupermarketGuru’s top five things you need to know about probiotics from how to shop to health basics.
Probiotics are foundational to good health. Here are SupermarketGuru’s top five things you need to know about probiotics.
1. To start off, your gastrointestinal tract, aka your gut, is full of good bacteria, aka probiotics, these bacteria perform many functions; they aid in digestion, enhance immunity, help regulate hormone balance, and guard against food poisoning. The natural bacteria also synthesize essential nutrients like vitamin K, vitamin B12, and biotin, as well as short chain fatty acids. Medications, stress, and poor diet can affect the balance of bacteria in our gut, most often the good bacteria get wiped out.
2. Where can you find probiotics? Probiotics and probiotic rich foods can be found in the refrigerated dairy products section and include products such as yogurts, kefirs, some cottage cheese, other fermented beverages such as kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi, and more. Probiotics are also available as nutritional supplements.
3. “Live Active Culture,” is key. Look for this statement on the product seal, especially with yogurt, kefir and cottage cheeses. This guarantees at least 108 viable (live) lactic acid bacteria per gram in refrigerated products and 107 for frozen. Also, check for the expiration date; the older the product the less live cultures. Most brands will name the bacterium and health benefit. Buy right before leaving the supermarket and store in cool area of car.
4. The fermentation process is documented in Middle Eastern civilizations as far back as 2,000 BC. The health promoting properties of yogurt and other fermented foods have only recently been discovered (relative to the amount of time people have been consuming it!), and continue to be researched.
5. Prebiotics are key to probiotic success. Prebiotics are the substances in foods that promote the growth and feed the healthy bacteria. The most prevalent forms of prebiotics are soluble fibers. Our bodies cannot digest prebiotics, but the good (lactic acid) bacteria in our gut can digest them for energy. Once digested, the byproducts are used to support the intestinal walls as well as the growth of beneficial bacteria. Fructooligosaccharides (FOS) are prebiotics widely available in plant foods. They are found in many fruits and vegetables, including: broccoli, kale, green cabbage, onions, leeks, garlic, artichoke, bananas, oranges, whole wheat, oats, barley, rye, chicory root, flax, and berries.