Easy Ways To Eat Probiotics Like A Pro
With the constant flurry of health-related buzzwords floating around the Internet, probiotics is one that seems here to stay. Chances are youve read about the benefits of taking a probiotic supplement maybe your doctor has even recommended one to you. And plenty of nutritionists are singing the praises of probiotic-rich foods like kimchi, sauerkraut and kombucha on a near-daily basis. It may seem daunting, but you dont have to dive headfirst into a brand new diet to reap the benefits of probiotics. We chatted with wellness expert, holistic health coach and author of Go with Your Gut, Robyn Youkilis, to get some simple steps to achieving better gut health without overhauling your lifestyle.
You dont need a supplement
A supplement can be a great place to start, says Youkilis, but she tends to encourage her clients to get their fill of probiotics when they dine. They taste delicious, she says. At the heart of all of this, Im a foodie. Add a spoonful of sauerkraut to your salad for tang. A dollop of kimchi gives your fried rice some zip. You might even already be incorporating some probiotics into your diet through chocolate, wine and sourdough bread. The amount and types of probiotics are not quite the same as those found in yogurt or kefir, but hey, youre on the right track!
Know how to cook with probioticsTime it rightDont worry about eating too many
How Fermentation Creates Probiotics
For centuries, people have used fermentation to process food, transforming one type of food into another: cucumbers become pickles, milk becomes yogurt, soybeans become miso
As it turns out, fermentation doesnt just preserve food. It also optimizes the foods health potential with beneficial bacteria.
During fermentation, naturally-occurring bacteria feed on the sugar and starch in the food, creating acid as a byproduct. This generates an environment that supports the growth of enzymes, B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, and of course, beneficial bacteria. For example:
Lactic Acid Bacteria
Fermentation is sometimes referred to as lacto-fermentation, because the most commonly produced acid is lactic acid. And as a result, the probiotic most often found in fermented foods is lactic acid bacteria or Lactobacillusthe same beneficial bacteria often advertised on probiotic yogurts, for example.
Acetic Acid Bacteria
Fermentation will sometimes produce acetic acid instead, which is associated with the development of vinegars. Kombucha and apple cider vinegar both produce acetic acid as part of their fermentation process. The beneficial bacteria created as a result is Acetobacter, also known as acetic acid bacteria.
Fermentation changes a foods scent and flavor quite a bit. In general, they are a bit stronger and may take some getting used to. Not everyone is going to be a fan of pickles from the first bite!
Mistake #: You Stop Taking Probiotics When You Take Antibiotics
One of the biggest misconceptions is that you should wait until your antibiotics are finished before you take probiotics, says registered dietitian Desiree Nielsen, author of Un-Junk Your Diet: How to Shop, Cook and Eat to Fight Inflammation and Feel Better, Forever. People think that antibiotics will kill probiotics, which is true, but probiotics can ease the side effects of antibiotics . The key to survival is when you take probiotics: wait two hours after your antibiotic dose so the antibiotic can move through your system and give probiotics a fighting chance. In addition, continue the probiotics for a time after your antibiotics are finished to ensure that their effects are out of your system.
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Why Not To Take Probiotics With A Heavy Meal
Your stomach is a very smart organ. The more food you eat, the more digestive enzymes and stomach acid it secretes.
Also, the more you eat, the longer it takes for the food to move through the stomach. It typically takes about 4 to 5 hours for food to move through the stomach.
Taking a probiotic right before or right after a large, heavy meal means that the probiotic has to endure the acidity of the stomach for much longer before it can move to the small intestine.
What Do They Do
Among other things, probiotics help send food through your gut by affecting nerves that control gut movement. Researchers are still trying to figure out which are best for certain health problems. Some common conditions they treat are:
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Infectious diarrhea
- Diarrhea caused by antibiotics
There is also some research that shows they’re useful for problems in other parts of your body. For example, some people say they have helped with:
- Skin conditions, like eczema
- Oral health
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Can Probiotics Hurt Me
For most healthy people, probiotics dont cause any harm. They are generally considered safe and are often given a try to see if they could help with various medical conditions. Theres a lot of research around the topic of probiotics. Scientists are trying to determine when and how they should be used, as well as how effective they are. Talk to your healthcare provider before starting a probiotic supplement because there are some cases where you shouldnt be taking them. Its always best to have the conversation first before starting a new supplement.
Importance Of Microorganisms For Your Gut
The complex community of microorganisms in your gut is called the gut flora, gut microbiota, or gut microbiome .
The gut microbiota includes bacteria, viruses, fungi, archaea, and helminths with bacteria comprising the vast majority. Your gut is home to a complex eco-system of 300500 bacterial species .
Most of the gut flora is found in your colon, or large intestine, which is the last part of your digestive tract.
Surprisingly, the metabolic activities of your gut flora resemble those of an organ. For this reason, some scientists refer to the gut flora as the forgotten organ .
Your gut flora performs many important health functions. It manufactures vitamins, including vitamin K and some of the B vitamins .
It also turns fibers into short-chain fats like butyrate, propionate, and acetate, which feed your gut wall and perform many metabolic functions (
Probiotics and prebiotic fibers can help correct this balance, ensuring that your forgotten organ is functioning optimally .
Your gut flora consists of hundreds of types of microorganisms. These microorganisms perform numerous important bodily functions.
Probiotics are widely researched for their effects on digestive health .
Evidence suggests that probiotic supplements can help cure antibiotic-associated diarrhea .
When people take antibiotics, especially for long periods of time, they often experience diarrhea even long after the infection has been eradicated.
These unknowns include :
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Why Do People Take Probiotics
Although research is ongoing, there’s good evidence that some probiotics may be helpful in treating irritable bowel syndrome, some types of diarrhea, colitis , acne, and eczema in children. They may also be used with antibiotics to help prevent diarrhea that may come with taking antibiotics.
In addition, researchers are studying probiotics to determine if they may help certain types of stomach ulcers , infections , dental disease, allergies, and diseases of the liver. However, more research is needed to determine if probiotics are safe and effective for these conditions.
There are many types of probiotics. They include lactobacilli , bifidobacteria and some yeasts . Different probiotics have different effects. So while one may help treat diarrhea or a vaginal infection, another may have no effect. Before you start taking a probiotic supplement, talk to your health care provider to make sure that you get the treatment most likely to help.
Probiotics are different from prebiotics. Prebiotics are non-digestible ingredients in foods that are used to spur the growth of probiotic bacteria in the body by providing a suitable environment in which the probiotics themselves can flourish. Synbiotics are combinations of prebiotics with probiotics.
The Importance Of Balance
Ideally, your gut always contains more probiotic bacteria and less pathogens.
But these days, its all too easy to disrupt the delicate balance of your gut microbiome, leading to an increase in bad bacteria:
- Bad bacteria enters your body through a cut, scrape, or your mucous membranes.
- Stress emboldens pathogens and can tip the scales in their favor.
- Antibiotics disrupt the balance of bacteria in your gut flora.
- Diets high in processed foods or sugar negatively affect beneficial bacteria.
Regardless of the cause, this imbalance can lead to illness, infection, digestive issues, and a slower metabolism. Adding probiotics can strengthen the colonies of beneficial bacteria and help restore the balance once again.
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Can I Use Probiotics To Help With Medical Conditions
There is currently a large amount of research happening around the idea of what probiotics can do for your body. Even though there are a lot of possibly positive outcomes, researchers are still working to find definitive answers about how probiotics can help with various conditions.
However, there are some medical conditions where probiotics may help. This can vary between people meaning that what works for one person may not work for another. These can also vary based on the certain probiotic that is taken.
Some of the conditions that might be helped by increasing the amount of probiotics in your body include:
- Upper respiratory infections .
Why Are Multiple Strains So Important
Because different strains of good bacteria provide different benefits, and because more than 1,000 strains of beneficial bacteria can be found in the human gut, it makes sense to choose a probiotic supplement that reflects this natural diversity.
Bifidobacterium strains provide support for the large intestine and Lactobacillus strains provide support for the small intestine and urogenital tract. Look for a supplement with multiple strains of different bacteria, including clinically studied strains that have been shown to benefit digestive health.
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You Gotta Get Them Somehow
These days, especially here in LA, it feels like it’s almost impossible to avoid hearing the phrase “gut-health” on a daily basis. By now, you probably know that you should be intaking some sort of probiotics. Most people’s immediate next thought is probably to take a supplement. However, consuming probiotic-rich foods are more readily used by your body compared to a pill probiotic supplements in pill form often cannot survive stomach acid. I’m here to tell you some of the best ways to eat your probiotics to experience all the benefits of these good-for-your-gut bacteria.
When Your Food Does Not Digest Properly You Will Need Extra Medicine
If you take too much medicine, you may feel sick or have other side effects.
When your body is not getting the food it needs in your stomach, it will send out chemicals to warn you that something is wrong.
These chemical signals can lead to sickness in your body, bloating, diarrhea, and even constipation.
Some foods are easier to digest than others and this will be an important factor when you are selecting your probiotics.
Your doctor may recommend probiotics that are pre-packaged at your local pharmacy or that are purchased in bulk.
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How Can Probiotics Benefit The Rest Of The Body
While most famous for their immune-boosting properties, probiotics can also positively impact many other aspects of your health.
One way they achieve this is by boosting the efficacy of your gut and aiding the primary functions of your gastrointestinal system.
When you incorporate natural probiotics into a healthy, well-rounded diet, you can open up your body to:
Moving up to your brain, we find another significant, positive effect of proper probiotic consumption: improved function of the gut-brain axis.
The gut-brain axis is the system that connects our mind and microbiome through a complex series of communications, and its health can play a role in our cognitive and emotional success.
Confirm Clinical Survivability Tests
Carefully read labels and websites to make sure any probiotic supplements you purchase have passed clinical tests. This ensures that the beneficial bacteria will survive its trek through gastric acids and into your gut microbiome.
If the manufacturer cant prove clinical results, choose a different product.
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Probiotics And Fiber Can You Take Them Together
When taking any supplement, most people check to see if any other product or element of their diet could negatively impact their new usage of supplements. For example, it is recommended to avoid calcium and polyphenols when taking an iron supplement as it can inhibit the absorption of heme and non heme iron. Another example that many people know about is the interaction of grapefruit juices on many active ingredients .
Should I Take A Probiotic Every Day
The short answer: Yes, you should aim to take a probiotic every single day if possible. “It’s best to take probiotics at least once daily with water or milk,” Dr. Asike says. There are many different forms of probiotics you can purchase in the wellness aisle from powders to capsules, tablets to liquid suspensions, but a regular dose on an even basis should be a goal regardless of which strain of probiotic you take.
If you’re wondering what may be the best option for a daily probiotic, Dr. Asike recommends looking for multi-species or multi-strain products before single-strain supplements, as they may provide more benefits overall. Saccharomyces boulardii, as well as Lactobaccilus rhamnosus,are popular options that may provide more relief to those experiencing irritable bowel syndrome, he adds. “There isn’t one over-the-counter brand that’s better than another when it comes to strains I advise looking for multi-species or multi-strain , and to grab a store brand if that’s what’s available.”
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Where You Get Your Probiotics From Also Matters
Aside from when you take your probiotic, its quality will also affect how much good bacteria makes it to your large intestine. High-quality producers will put higher amounts of probiotics in their capsules to guarantee that the amount of CFUs advertised on the bottle is in each tablet for the length of its shelf life, Dr. Wallman says. And higher-quality strains also have a longer shelf life, she adds.
If youre using probiotics for a specific health condition, talk to your doctor about finding the right probiotic supplement for you.
Otherwise, find a high-quality broad spectrum probiotic supplement. Unlike spore-based probiotics, broad spectrum probiotics are usually made up of at least three different kinds of bacteria . Your gut microbiome is diverse, so its a good idea for your probiotic to be as well when using it for general health and wellbeing, Dr. Wallman says.
The Best Time To Take Probiotics
Does it matter when you take probiotics to make them more effective? We’ll answer this question with specifics regarding the best time to take probiotics whether they are in food or supplements.
Bacteria is with you every dayand not just when you touch a dirty grocery store cart or someone nearby sneezes. Even right now, there are millions of bacteria living on your skin and in your gut. Sounds scary? It isnt!
Its perfectly natural and, more importantly, these microscopic organisms are crucial for your best health and well-being.
Surprising, but true: Not all bacteria are bad. In fact, there are trillions of beneficial bacteria, known as probiotics, that help keep your body functioning at its prime. And supporting your best digestive, immune, and even emotional health requires that you have plenty of these good guys on hand at all times.
Not sure about the best way to introduce healthy bacteria into your system? Read on to find out more about probiotic foods and supplements, as well as specifics regarding the best time to take probiotics. Plus, well give you a cheat sheet of our favorite suggestions for adding probiotic-friendly foods into your daily diet.
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What Has Science Shown About The Effectiveness Of Probiotics For Health Conditions
A great deal of research has been done on probiotics, but much remains to be learned about whether theyâre helpful and safe for various health conditions.
Probiotics have shown promise for a variety of health purposes, including prevention of antibiotic-associated diarrhea , prevention of necrotizing enterocolitis and in premature infants, treatment of infant colic, treatment of periodontal disease, and induction or maintenance of remission in ulcerative colitis.
However, in most instances, we still donât know which probiotics are helpful and which are not. We also donât know how much of the probiotic people would have to take or who would be most likely to benefit. Even for the conditions that have been studied the most, researchers are still working toward finding the answers to these questions.
The following sections summarize the research on probiotics for some of the conditions for which theyâve been studied.
How To Get More Probiotics Into Your Diet
Adding a few servings of probiotic-rich foods to your daily diet can be an easy and effective way to give your gut microbiome a boost while also improving overall health and youll find you feel better consuming these foods too.
To get started, try making a few simple swaps in the foods you eat. For example, you can switch out soda, juice or energy drinks for fermented beverages such as kombucha instead. You can also trade regular yogurt for probiotic yogurt and substitute raw milk or cheese in place of regular cheese or milk products as well.
Alternatively, try using a few of the best probiotic foods in your favorite recipes to add a bit of extra flavor and variety to your weekly rotation. Tempeh works well as a meatless main dish, sauerkraut can be served as a savory spread and apple cider vinegar makes a great addition to salad dressings and vinaigrettes.
Regardless of how you choose to get in your daily dose of these natural probiotic foods, the trick is to get creative and dont be afraid to experiment with new ingredients to make healthy and delicious meals.
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