There is something to be said for convenient, fast food. It’s quick, easy and tends to be super affordable. More often than not, this fast food is bad for you. These foods can also leave you feeling sluggish, sickly, and sometimes even guilty when you have finished your meal. Fortunately, some foods that are easy to prepare, convenient, and actually good for you. They are the foods that are rich with probiotics. You have probably heard of these probiotic foods before. They almost seem like a passing fad. Trust me when I say they are definitely not just a trend. Foods that are rich in probiotics leave your appetite satisfied while keeping your gut pacified. If that weren’t enough to make you want to try them, they also tend to require zero preparation before eating!
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What are Probiotic Foods
Bacteria have a bad reputation. But did you know that some bacteria are very good? Just as antibiotics help your body fight off unwelcome bacteria, probiotics help your body keep a healthy balance of good bacteria. Your stomach and gut health play a large role in your overall wellness. Therefore, you want to keep a solid equilibrium present in your gut. That’s where probiotics come in. These good flora protect your stomach and keep your digestive tract from succumbing to bad bacteria. Foods that are rich in probiotics, specifically the two most prevalent strains of probiotics, Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus, are a natural way to help your body maintain that ever-important balance.
There are numerous health benefits associated with probiotics and foods containing probiotics. It is important to remember that these health benefits come from the proper usage of probiotics. Overuse or sporadic incorporation of probiotics in one’s diet can lead to a disturbance in that person’s gut health, which in turn can wreak havoc on the rest of the body. Proper probiotic integration, however, has several positive side effects.
Healthier Digestive System
The most readily associated positive outcome from incorporating foods that are high in probiotics into your diet is a stronger, more balanced digestive tract. Especially if you have recently undergone a course of antibiotic treatment, probiotics help restore your gut health and keep things flowing smoothly. These good bacteria keep your bowel movements regular and can even help prevent infections from occurring in your gastrointestinal system. Moreover, they can help reverse the damage inflicted by harsh antibiotics by healing and strengthening your gastrointestinal tract.
Lowers Bad Cholesterol
In one study, foods rich in probiotics were actually shown to reduce people’s bad cholesterol. Gut health is often linked to heart health, so it should come as no surprise that a gut fortified with probiotics can lead to a healthier heart as well. By working with your body to naturally lower bad cholesterol, probiotics keep your body working harder, longer.
Clearer Skin and Fewer Allergies
Gut health also plays a role in a person’s skin and reactions to external stimuli. Probiotic use has been linked to the reduction of eczema and allergies. By including them as a regular part of a balanced diet, you can increase your chance of clearer skin and a healthier body in general.
Best Probiotic Foods
Kefir is one of the more versatile foods that
As far as condiments go, some are definitely better for you than others. Fortunately, sauerkraut lovers need not worry. Sauerkraut is one of the healthier condiments out of the bunch! If you are a fan of hot dogs or heavy sandwiches, you can offset some of the tolls they take on your gastrointestinal system by topping them with sauerkraut. This fermented topping is tangy and filled with nutritional value, so feel free to indulge from time to time.
There are different varieties of kombucha available on the market or that you can make at home. Specifically, nonalcoholic kombucha is a staple you might want to work into your diet. This fermented drink takes a few weeks to make on average, but it is worth the wait (unless you’re buying it at the store, in which case, you only have to wait in line!). Kombucha packs a powerful punch of probiotics, with their many health benefits and leaves a delightful, almost fizzy taste on your tongue while doing so. This highly satisfying beverage is brimming with antioxidants and is perfect for the whole family – just be sure you are purchasing the nonalcoholic version! If you are looking for an adult beverage that is friendly to the stomach, however, kombucha also comes in alcoholic varieties that are perfect for warm summer afternoons!
Coconut kefir is an excellent alternative for those who want the benefits of kefir but are either lactose intolerant or are preferring a dairy alternative for whatever reason. It is made by fermenting coconuts, which results in a sweeter, often more palatable flavor that that of traditional kefir. It is not as high in probiotics, however, because it contains no dairy products.
Natto is a soybean dish that hails from the heart of Japan. It is one of the more potent probiotics meals on the list due to its ingredient list that includes Bacillus subtilis, one of the strongest probiotic strands. It can be eaten by itself and is also delicious when worked into other dishes.
Not all yogurt is created equally. There are some yogurts on the market that are high in sugars, artificial flavoring, and artificial coloring. Yogurts that are rich with probiotics tend to be of the Greek variety and will be very clear that they have probiotics in them as indicated on the label. You will want to ensure that the yogurt you are purchasing is either advertised as a probiotic yogurt or that you see some combination of the following strands listed on the container:
Kvass is a traditional Slavic beverage that is highly fermented. The fermentation process results in a high probiotic content with a relatively low alcohol content of 3% on average. It is a great way to cool off in the summer heat while keeping your stomach healthy and fortified with probiotics.
Fermented cheese is not just delicious. It is also wrought with probiotics. Depending on the length of the fermentation process, raw cheese can introduce your gut with healthy probiotic bacteria while leaving your taste buds singing. As with any raw and unfiltered food, be sure to check with your doctor before ingesting raw cheeses, just to make sure you do not have any dietary restrictions that might prevent you from safely enjoying this satisfying snack.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple Cider Vinegar is one of those household staples that just about everyone has somewhere in their pantry. Apple cider vinegar is known to be a food that is a catch-all. It is great for weight loss, skin remedies, and even cleaning! When it comes to foods that are high in probiotic content, apple cider vinegar should really come as no surprise. It can be mixed into dishes, prepared alongside salads and even drank on its own, although its unique taste is not for everyone and sometimes needs to be combined with other flavors to make it more palatable.
Gherkin pickles are sour and delicious. They are fantastic when chopped up finely and added to dishes, such as a hearty tuna fish casserole. They are also great as a small, briny treat that leaves your tummy happy. Rich with probiotics due to the pickling process in general, gherkin pickles are a good option for anyone who wants to start slowly but steadily working probiotics into their diet.
Brine-cured olives are a superfood, to say the least. They are packed with flavor and antioxidants. They are great on their own as well as in salads and on platters. Brine-cured olives are also a satisfying snack that is loaded with healthy probiotics and fats. These Mediterranean morsels are definitely one treat that you can feel good about indulging in from time to time!
If you are fancying the flavors of Indonesia but not ready for a worldwide journey this weekend, try tempeh out for size. This fan-favorite is made with fermented soybeans that can take anywhere from a week to a year to prepare (but it also comes packaged, so you don’t have to do the fermenting work yourself!). Tempeh can be used as a seasoning with other dishes, but it can also be worked into your diet as a meat alternative. Flavorful and with the stomach healing power of probiotics, tempeh is a must-try for a family dinner.
Not to be confused with the soup, miso is actually a Japanese spice. This spice is created with a fermented ingredient know as koji, which contains highly concentrated amounts of healthy gut bacteria. Miso can be used in a plethora of dishes, including the soup by the same name. It is an excellent spice to incorporate into your next dish if you are looking for some Asian flair while stepping up your probiotic intake.
For the nights when you are craving something a little more zesty, and outside of your comfort zone, Kimchi will be right up your alley. This traditional Korean dish achieves the perfect balance of probiotic goodness by being left to ferment for up to two whole weeks. This extensive fermentation process creates a sharp, delicious flavor that is packed with good bacteria. It is made primarily of cabbage but also tends to include lightweight vegetables like thinly sliced carrots as well. It is a great side dish for a table for two.
Many Others from Cultures Worldwide
If you are looking to diversify your palette or want to continue to incorporate foods that are high in probiotics while traveling, there are a number of dishes worldwide that will help you fulfill your probiotic needs. Acidophiline, which is a Russian milk product, is fermented with Lactobacillus acidophilus bacteria. Appam is a dish served in India that is essentially a probiotic pancake. Filmjölk can be found across different Nordic countries as a substitute for kefir!
Probiotics are a necessary component of a healthy diet. They ensure gut health, which, in turn, promotes a person’s overall health in general. Unlike what is found in fast foods, probiotics are found in easy, convenient forms of sustenance and are often very affordable to work into a person’s diet. Start off slow if you are not already incorporating foods high in probiotics. Remember that moderation and consistency are vital in creating and maintaining physical wellness.