Pop culture fitness columnists and influencers have been raving about how probiotics are great for your digestive health. And guess what, they’re right. The benefits of probiotics are vast. Studies have shown that specific healthy strains of probiotics may in fact boost your gut health, cognition, and metabolism, not to mention your immunity. Including probiotic-rich foods into your diet, will ensure you encourage those healthy bacteria to flourish and improve your overall well-being.
What Are Probiotics?
The term probiotic literally means “for life” and it’s used to describe the healthy bacteria that live within humans and animals that help the host improve overall health and functioning. [R] The name was coined in 1960. Probiotics are microorganisms that live within your gut and get there by the food that you consume. They’re living, and when consumed in sufficient amounts consistently in one’s diet, the health benefits go beyond basic nutrition. [R]
Over the past decade, researchers have discovered that your digestive system is filled with up to 40 trillion microbes, collectively known as your gut microbiota. This tiny army of healthy bacteria supports your body’s ability to digest and absorb key nutrients from the food you eat to literally power every human biological function. If you don’t adequately absorb nutrients from the food you eat, including probiotic-rich foods, then your body will not obtain key vitamins and nutrients to perform those biological functions efficiently.
Some of these benefits include immune system health while also supporting digestive and respiratory functions. [R] The two main members of the probiotic genera are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, however, in recent years there are a growing number of strains, including the patented DE111 that are clinically proven to improve health, digestion, and absorption of food within the gut.
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What Are Probiotics Good For?
Bacteria often gets a bad rap, but when it comes to your health and wellness. Healthy bacteria, however, act as our first line of defense against harmful pathogens, which leads to infection, malabsorption, and even disease down the road. [R]
Probiotics not only help with digesting and absorbing our food, but they help stabilize the acid-filled stomach and gut to aid with the production of vitamins, boost the immune system, reduce cholesterol, reduce the frequency of colds, improve bowel movements, and reduce the occurrence of vaginal yeast infections. [R]
While some of the health benefits and claims are well documented, others require additional studies in order to be established. There’s substantial evidence to support probiotic use and consumption in the treatment of diarrheal diseases and the prevention of diarrhea from antibiotic use, as well as improving lactose metabolism. [R] There’s also a wide variety of research that supports the regular consumption of probiotic-rich foods in order to improve overall health and wellness.
Probiotics And Lactose Intolerance
Lactose intolerance is a genetically determined beta-galactosidase deficiency that results in the inability to breakdown lactose into glucose and galactose. [R] When you’re lactose intolerant and eat foods containing lactose, specifically dairy, the individual will experience diarrhea, abdominal discomfort, and flatulence. This is where probiotic strains, specifically S. thermophilus and L. delbrueckii ssp, and DE111 really come into play. [R]
The effectiveness of probiotics, specifically these probiotic strains, provide positive responses and more tolerant results from lactose-containing foods, especially with probiotic supplementation. [R] So much so in fact, that it’s encouraged within the research community that clinicians and those who have lactose sensitivities should consider probiotic supplementation as a therapeutic alternative. [R] By increasing the strains that help with the effects of lactose intolerance, we encourage eating probiotic-rich foods to increase the health of the digestive tract to improve overall wellness.
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8 Probiotic-Rich Foods To Help Your Gut Health Flourish
The benefit of yogurt goes beyond helping create strong bones, weight loss, and anti-aging. Yogurt contains a few strains of live bacteria cultures (assuming that they have live microbes) that are beneficial to the body. is specifically good in order to help prevent yeast and vaginal infections with the help of Lactobacillus. [R] In general, there are ~1 billion to 10 billion CFU in a serving of yogurt. When you’re looking for yogurt at the grocery store, look for labels that specify “live and active cultures” or “active culture” to make sure it does have live bacteria within it. Bonus: looking for the CFU count.
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Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar itself is not a probiotic. So does apple cider vinegar have probiotics? Yes! It’s actually one of the many types of fermented foods that contain probiotics, acetic acid, and the nutrients such as B-vitamins and polyphenols that give this sour drink it’s health benefits for the gut. Since ACV is not a probiotic, the acetic acid, the organic acid found in all vinegar, helps prevent the overgrowth of bad bacteria, assisting the healthy gut bacteria in doing it’s job.
Looking for the benefit without the intense taste? Then check out Swolverine’s ACV Gummy, which provides all the benefits of liquid and more, thanks to the other antioxidants within it.
RECOMMENDED PRODUCT: Apple Cider Vinegar Gummy with Beetroot, Pomegranate, B vitamins and Potassium
Kefir (kuh-FEER) is a more powerful probiotic than yogurt. [R]As compared to yogurt, which packs in 4 strains of probiotics, kefir contains about 61 strains of bacteria and yeasts and 30 billion or more CFUs, making it a very concentrated and beneficial probiotic-rich food source. Certain strains of probiotics in kefir are believed to have potent antibacterial properties, including Lactobacillus kefiri, which is unique to kefir. [R]
The lactic acid bacteria in fermented dairy foods – like kefir and yogurt – turn lactose into lactic acid, so these two are much lower in lactose than milk. They also contain specific enzymes that breakdown lactose even further, making these probiotic-rich foods well tolerated by people who have lactose intolerance as compared to milk. [R] Note: You can make kefir 100% lactose-free by using coconut water, fruit juice, or a different non-dairy beverage.
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Chances are you don’t eat 2-3 probiotic-rich foods per day. If you’re like most people, you may have taken antibiotics recently or experience irregularity with your bowel movements. Maybe you have an upset stomach after you eat, are receiving cancer treatment, or you often get the cold or flu. Nobody needs a supplement, but just about everyone can improve their overall health, and a probiotic supplement is a great place to start.
Probiotic-rich food sources are a great way to get more healthy bacteria into your body and your life, but a quality probiotic supplement taken regularly can play a significant role in maintaining the health of your healthy gut bacteria colony. According to the NIH, probiotic supplements contain many of the same organisms that naturally live in your body, and act as a nice compliment or boost to what you already have.
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What Should I Look For In A Probiotic Supplement?
First off, you’re going to want to look for one that has a patented strain, DE111. Although preclinical and clinical trials have shown that probiotics may have a positive impact on your health, studies have only identified a handful of probiotic strains that are helpful in treating specific conditions. Of those strains, DE111 proves to be one of the most effective in helping digestive and immune health.
Secondly, you want to choose a probiotic supplement that does not contain a proprietary blend. This ensures that you’re taking the proven strains that improve health, and not fillers or less effective probiotic strains. [*R]
Here are the strains you should look for
- ✔️Lactobacillus Acidophilus contains 18 different strains of 'good' bacteria regulating the breakdown of food in the stomach and yeast levels found elsewhere in the body.*
- ✔️Bifidobacterium Longum contains 8 different strains of 'good' bacteria and are mainly found in the colon maintaining a normal digestive tract, inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria, and also boosts the immune system.*
- ✔️Bifidobacterium Breve ferments sugars and produces acetic and lactic acid. It can digest plant fibers that are typically thought of as non-digestible, protects colon function, alleviates constipation, and reduces gas, bloating, and diarrhea inhibits E. coli and suppresses the fungus Candida.*
- ✔️Bacillus Subtilus (DE111™) is a ubiquitous bacterium that is commonly found in water, soil, air, and decomposing plant residue. Due to its ability to thrive in the harshest of environments, including the stomach, it is able to colonize and become even more powerful.*
- ✔️Lactobacillus Rhamnosus adheres to both the lining of the intestinal tract and urinary tract reducing the number of harmful bacteria starting in the mouth and ending in the urine- it increases immunity, reduces d, and improves digestion.*
- ✔️Lactobacillus Casei reduces diarrhea caused by antibiotics/infections, influences weight, and insulin levels, and alleviate symptoms of arthritis and inflammation in joints.*
- ✔️Lactobacillus Plantarum works in the body to alleviate digestive stress, is resistant to antibiotics that reduce the 'good' bacteria in your intestinal system, and helps combat yeast overgrowth in the gut from the overuse of antibiotics.*
Lastly, you want to take a probiotic supplement that has 4-10 billion CFUs (colony forming units). Anything more than this is often filled with filler strains or ingredients and is often more of a waste of money than an effective option for your health.
Kimchi is a staple in Korean cuisine made from salted and fermented vegetables, such as Napa cabbage and Korean radish, made with a varying selection of seasonings including gochutgaru, spring onions, garlic, ginger, jeotgal, and others. It tastes like a tangy, salty, spicy cabbage and is a natural probiotic powerhouse – rich in vitamins and minerals, containing 10 million CFUs per serving. [R] Kimchi is a dairy-free alternative probiotic-rich food and contributes health benefits in a similar manner as yogurt.
Kombucha is made in a similar fashion as apple cider vinegar, where it’s fermented from a mother (called the SCOBY), naturally containing probiotics. Cellular and animal research supports that kombucha may have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, providing health benefits to the gut and gut lining. However, if you’re wondering if kombucha is a probiotic, it isn’t.
While the bacteria in kombucha have not been scientifically confirmed to be probiotic and more research is needed, most companies will add probiotics to their tea, making it a probiotic-rich food/drink, resulting in a sweet, tangy, effervescent natural beverage filled with probiotics, the beneficial bacteria that improve gut health. When shopping for kombucha, look for brands that are not pasteurized (this can destroy probiotics) and that do not have added carbonation. The more authentic, the better source of probiotics your kombucha will be. Some studies have found that when a kefir culture starter is used to create the mother, there are 1 million CFUs. [R]
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Similar to kimchi, sauerkraut is so much more than just a topping on your hot dog. It’s thought to have originated in China more than 2,000 years ago when fermentation was one of the ways to keep food from spoiling so quickly. [R] The nice thing about ‘Kraut is that it doesn’t have any chemical preservatives or added sugar – it’s just fermented cabbage. Unpasteurized sauerkraut help improve the bacterial balance in your gut after antibiotic use, while reducing gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and symptoms linked to Chron’s disease and ulcerative colitis. [R,R,R,R] When the sauerkraut is a high potency, meaning that it’s naturally fermented and raw/unpasteurized, it can contain 50 billion CFU or higher.
Another probiotic-rich food – Tempeh. Tempeh is made from fermented soy and is used in many vegetarian and vegan dishes. It has a nutty texture, and aside from its rich probiotic value, it’s a complete source of protein delivering other nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, and manganese. Per gram, tempeh delivers about 10 billion CFUs of probiotics per gram. Heads up – all tempeh should be pasteurized or cooked before it’s eaten. Raw tempeh should be handled similar to meat to avoid illness but are completely unnecessary with properly pasteurized tempeh.
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Probiotic-Rich Foods: Takeaway
Consuming probiotic-rich foods on a daily basis promotes a healthy digestive and immune health. While probiotic foods contain micronutrients, such as vitamins and minerals that support overall health, a probiotic supplement is always a nice way to bridge the gaps in your nutrition and promote healthy gut flora. All in all, it doesn’t hurt to do both to receive all the benefits and give yourself the best opportunity to live each day at your healthiest potential. The important thing? Eating probiotic-rich foods and taking your probiotic supplement, like PROBIOTIX from Swolverine, on a daily basis.
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