What are Probiotics?
Ever wondered why are we recommended having more yogurt daily, or why is it important to have more of fermented foods often? Most of us are aware of such food sources providing some benefits however the fact is, they contain different types of probiotics which are good for our health.
Probiotics are living microorganisms and friendly bacteria which are beneficial for health, especially for gut when consumed.
You can get probiotics from supplements, as well as from foods prepared by bacterial fermentation.
Benefits of Probiotics for Overall Health Improvement
Our gut health is linked to our overall health. Having the right gut bacteria like probiotics has been useful to provide numerous health benefits like:
- Weight loss: Though there is more evidence needed on probiotics impact on weight reduction, however some of them have been known to aid weight loss.
- Improved digestion: Probiotics are effective against various digestive problems, including diarrhoea and IBS.
- Enhanced immune function: The right gut health promises to enhance immunity as well, which can help us fight lots of infection and viruses. It also helps reduce the chances of frequent sickness.
- Healthier skin: Having an overall improvement in the health also promotes healthy signs of skin. With the right immunity, gut health and digestion health, our body tends to improve its overall functionality which also helps us get healthy skin and hair. It can be useful to improve conditions like acne, rosacea etc.
- Inflammation: Probiotics reduce systemic inflammation, which helps reduce the chances of illness.
- Depression and anxiety: Strains of probiotics have been proved to enhance better sleep and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression in people with clinical depression.
- Blood cholesterol: Several probiotics have been shown to lower total and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, however more research is needed.
- Blood pressure: Probiotics may also improve our blood pressure.
Different Sources of Probiotics
As mentioned, various types of probiotics can be consumed through food sources as well as supplements. There are many sources and types of probiotics which can be a part of our daily diet.
Here are some of the best mentioned below:
- Yogurt: Probiotic yogurt is one of the richest sources of probiotics which has many health benefits to offer.
- Kefir: Kefir is a fermented milk drink. It is even a better source of probiotics than yogurt. People with lactose intolerance can also digest kefir.
- Tempeh: Tempeh is a fermented soybean product that has enough protein and is a reliable source of probiotics.
- Kimchi: Kimchi is a spicy Korean side dish, usually made from fermented cabbage. Its lactic acid bacteria Is good for our digestive health.
- Miso: Miso is a fermented soybean paste and popular in Japan. It is rich in several important nutrients including probiotics and may reduce the risk of cancer and heart diseases.
- Kombucha: Kombucha is a fermented tea drink and is a decent source of probiotics.
- Pickles: Pickles are of several types that have been pickled in salty water and fermented. They are low in calories and have probiotics due to fermentation except pickles which have vinegar, do not have the effect of probiotics.
- Buttermilk: Traditional buttermilk is made of yogurt, famous in India and Pakistan. It is rich in probiotics and good for digestion and overall gut health.
- Some Types of Cheese: Only some types of cheese — including
cheddar, mozzarella, and Gouda — contain probiotics.
- Supplements: Apart from getting probiotics from fermented foods, one can also consume Probiotics supplements in the form of tablets or capsules to fulfil needs.
When are Probiotics Supplements needed and What are their Benefits?
Probiotics supplements may have the same benefits to offer as natural food sources. However, it is advised to switch to supplements only when you are not having enough access to real sources of fermented foods on a regular basis. Moreover, if you are suffering from some severe gut problems frequently, it may be a good addition for health.
Do Probiotics Supplements have any Side effects?
While Probiotics supplements may be safe to consume in most of the cases. It is better to consult with a professional/doctor before adding and choosing supplements, especially in the cases of certain medical conditions and illness.
The Bottom Line
Probiotics have lots of health benefits to offer but of course, along with that it’s important to make sure you’re consuming a healthy diet and practicing other healthy habits as well. Otherwise, you can’t expect probiotics to provide much benefit alone.
Remember, there are no shortcuts to improve overall health and there is no magical food. But to experience the best health, you must put a magic to an overall lifestyle.