Monday, February 7, 2011

Tips for Adding Probiotics to Your Diet

Probiotics are “friendly” bacteria that can be found in certain foods and supplements. These are live microorganisms that are similar to the natural ones that can be found in the digestive tract. Sometimes the natural production of this bacteria is reduced due to poor eating habits use of certain types of medication, tap water chemicals, alcoholic beverages and stress. When this intestinal flora is reduced, there is an imbalance between the different types of bacteria in the digestive tract, causing bloating, excessive gas, constipation, diarrhea, poor nutrient absorption and toxicity.

Benefits of Probiotics

Even if you eat a healthy diet, it can be difficult to always ingest the right foods. Including probiotic supplements or foods in your diet can assure that your digestion will be improved, nutrients are better absorbed and your immune system is stimulated and supported. Certain medical conditions, such as Candida, thrush, vaginal yeast infections and other fungal conditions are helped with probiotics.

Probiotic Foods

Get in the habit of eating foods that contain a probiotic. It only takes a few small changes. If none of the foods listed below are to your liking, consider taking a probiotic supplement. Some common foods containing probiotics include:

Yogurt
Acidophilus milk
Buttermilk
Kefir
Tempeh
Miso
Sauerkraut
Brewer’s Yeast

Yogurt

Yogurt is one of the most accessible probiotic foods. It can be found in almost every grocery store. It comes plain, flavored and with fruit. However, you must read the container label, as not all yogurt products contain probiotics. The yogurts, or other foods, containing the beneficial bacteria should have a “Live Active Culture” seal on the packaging. Otherwise, look through the ingredient list for Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium. Plain yogurt can be substituted in recipes, such as dips and shakes in place of milk or sour cream. It’s great for a baked potato topping. Yogurt can be added to the top of whole grain cereal for breakfast, instead of milk.

Acidophilus Milk

Use acidophilus milk in place of regular cow’s milk. This milk is actually still cows milk, but it is processed differently than the grocery store type most people purchase. It is a cultured milk in which the probiotic, acidophilus bacterium is added to sterile milk. The product is then fermented for a period of time, usually 18 to 24 hours. The process gives the milk a bit of a tangy flavor with a thicker consistency. Don’t confuse this product with sweet acidophilus milk, which is processed differently.

Buttermilk

Buttermilk is another way to get probiotics into your diet. It seems to be one of those foods that you love or hate. If you love it, start switching out your regular milk drinking for buttermilk. In addition to the beneficial probiotics in buttermilk, it also contains calcium, vitamin B 12, potassium, riboflavin and phosphorus.

Kefir

Kefir is much like yogurt, except it can be processed from other types of milk than cow’s milk. You may find this product made from goat milk, buffalo milk, sheep milk, coconut milk, soy milk or rice milk. If yogurt is not to your liking, give kefir a try and see if it agrees with your taste buds more readily.

Tempeh and Miso

Tempeh and miso are fermented soy based foods. They may be more familiar to vegans, as they offer a high protein content. Tempeh is often used in dishes that could otherwise be replaced by meat. It is often used in stir fry, chili, soups and sandwiches. Miso, although is usually soy based, can also be made by fermenting rice or barley. It comes in many flavors, in a paste consistency. It is most often used in soups, sauces, marinades and glazes.

Brewer’s Yeast

Brewer’s Yeast is sometimes referred to as “nutritional yeast.” Besides a good source of probiotics, it is also very nutritious. It can be found in most grocery stores, but also in health food stores. The easiest way to include it in your diet is to sprinkle it over the top of cereal, soup, salad, vegetables or other foods.





2 diner's comment:

Dr B said...

Thanks for this great article. Although natural foods may contain probiotics, if you look at the literature posted by ProbioticsMD.com - they state that the amount of CFU necessary for any clinical affect needs to be higher than natural foods and taken in a supplement form. Although eating foods with naturally occurring probiotics is great to due - to improve the effect, try to add supplements t your diet.

smilinggreenmom said...

Thanks for the ideas! We usually do not even think about the foods aspect because we take our Vidazorb chewable everyday....I just haven't wanted the calories etc. But some of these things are actually really healthy and might be yummy to include! TY :)