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July 07, 2015
July 03, 2015
If you said “tangy,” you weren’t wrong, but they’re all tangy for the same reason: they’re all probiotic foods. And probiotic foods don’t just taste good; they’re also loaded with health benefits. So here’s an overview of why they’re so special, what the health benefits are, and how you can start adding more to your plate. To put it very simply, probiotic foods are foods that contain live and active bacterial cultures.
Bacteria’s get a pretty bad rap when it comes to food, since most of the time we’re thinking up ways to get rid of the bad ones, like salmonella or E. Coli. But the bacteria in probiotic foods are actually good for you: these are the “good bugs” that you want in your gut. Probiotic foods also have another benefit thanks to the process of fermentation.
During fermentation, carbohydrates in the food are broken down into acids by various kinds of probiotic bacteria and/or yeast. For example, in yogurt, the milk sugar (lactose) is broken down into lactic acid. This doesn’t just change the taste of the food; it also makes the food easier to digest and breaks down some carbohydrates that might otherwise cause digestive symptoms. A food can be fermented without being probiotic, if the bacteria that caused this reaction are killed before the food makes it onto your plate. This is actually quite common. For example, if the food is pasteurized at any point, the pasteurization process will kill all the bacteria, it leaves the acids intact, though, so the taste doesn’t change. But other times, the bacteria are left intact – those foods are called probiotic.
Health Benefits of Probiotics :
Improves Gut Health
First and foremost, probiotic foods are excellent for maintaining healthy gut flora. You already know how important your gut flora are for just about everything: if you want healthy digestion, clear skin, metabolic health, a generally good mood, easier weight loss, or pretty much anything else, pampering your gut flora should be at the top of your priorities list. The “good bugs” in probiotic foods are some of the very same bacteria that populate a healthy gut, so when you eat these foods, it’s an infusion of healthy flora right where they need to be.
Dairy is definitely a “gray area” – on the one hand, it’s a whole food, and it is full of essential minerals, healthy fats, and quality animal protein. On the other hand, plenty of people don’t do well with dairy at all, mostly because they’re lactose intolerant (they can’t digest the sugar in the milk). If lactose intolerance is your problem, though, it’s worth at least trying probiotic or fermented dairy foods to see if they’re OK.
Fermented dairy products like yogurt and kefir are actually much easier to digest than milk, because the bacteria destroy all the lactose by fermenting it into lactic acid. If you’re allergic to dairy protein, this won’t help you, but if it’s just the lactose, then choosing probiotic, fermented dairy products is a very tasty workaround. Probiotic supplements are an alternative way to get probiotics in, but they’re not perfect. Specifically, the bacteria are all too easy to kill.
If your probiotic had to sit out on a store shelf for long periods of time, or if it got transported in a hot truck with no refrigeration, or treated carelessly during storage and distribution somewhere, or otherwise wasn’t handled well, it’s very possible that you’re really just taking an expensive placebo. It’s also worth mentioning that homemade probiotic foods are typically much cheaper than supplements, especially if you’re getting the best supplements.
So for many people, they might be the only affordable avenue to all the benefits of probiotics.
There are also plenty of studies on the miscellaneous benefits of various probiotic foods, when eaten as whole foods:
• Good for over all the health benefits
• Probiotic yogurt significantly decreases inflammation.
• Probiotic yogurt reduces improves blood sugar levels, hence good for diabetics
• Probiotic yogurt reduced the number of respiratory tract infections in swimmers.
As rightly said, let food heal your body and acts as a natural medicine.