How probiotics can improve your health

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Probiotic News(NaturalHealth365) Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that enhance the population of the healthy micro-flora in the human gut. They are consumed from the diet in the form of fermented products like yogurt and from nutraceuticals in the form of dietary supplements.

The human intestinal tract is a host for more than 400 different types of beneficial bacteria with lactic acid bacteria dominating the group. The most common bacteria in our digestive tract are the lactobacillus acidophilus present in fermented milk and yogurt.

What can probiotics do for me?

Probiotic foods have been a part of the diet across many traditional cultures as a way to maintain health. The primary role of probiotics is to improve the population of the beneficial gut bacteria. They are also used as a means to improve the following body functions:

• Digestion
• Immune health
• Absorption of nutrients
• Bowel movements
• Re-establish the balance of beneficial bacteria
• Detoxification

Where can I find probiotics within the diet?

Dietary sources of probiotics are delicious and can be enjoyed in varied forms. Dietary sources are listed from most common and well-known to least known ones:

Yogurt: A preparation of fermented milk that is set in a semi-solid form. The can be consumed as such or can be added to salads and other food preparations. Be sure to choose organic, unpasteurized raw milk for home-made preparations.

Sauerkraut: Thinly shredded cabbage that is allowed to ferment in the presence of lactic acid bacteria. It is of European origin and provides a zesty flavor to meat dishes.

Pickles: They are home-made, prepared in mason jar where vegetables like cucumber, are allowed to ferment with salt, clean water and a handful of dill.

Miso: A paste made from fermented soy along with grains like rice or barley. Used as a condiment in Japanese cuisine.

Kefir: A fermented drink prepared from kefir grains, staple in the Tibetan diet.

Kombucha: This is a type of fermented tea that has its origin from China. This sour flavored drink is consumed as a health tonic in China and parts of Russia.

Kimchi: Fermented cabbage that is a staple in Korean diet.

Lassi: Fermented yogurt drink that is consumed flavored or plain.

Buttermilk: Fermented yogurt drink, similar to lassi but thinner in consistency.

How can I increase my dietary intake of probiotics?

Increasing the consumption of probiotic foods has many health benefits, which is why it is appreciated as an important dietary component since ancient times. It is very simple to increase probiotic intake with some healthy dietary alterations such as these:

1. Eat fermented foods on a regular basis. Try to replace sodas and processed fruit drinks with fermented drinks and preparations such as kefir, yogurt etc. Including fermented vegetables like sauerkraut, kimchi boosts your daily probiotic intake.

Remember, the key here is to consume unpasteurized, organic fermented foods which are not subjected to heat processing. High temperatures destroy naturally occurring digestive enzymes and beneficial bacteria, so avoid heat treating fermented foods.

2. Don’t forget ‘prebiotics’. By increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables, it helps to improve the population of the beneficial gut bacteria. The gut bacteria feed on the indigestible carbohydrate components in fruits and vegetables which acts as fuel for them, these components are called prebiotics.

In addition, fruits and vegetables naturally carry some beneficial bacteria on their skin, hence it is necessary to consume whole raw foods to benefit from the surface bacteria.

3. Look for a high-quality, probiotic supplement. Probiotic supplements may help – if the diet consists of overly processed or pasteurized foods. Simply put beneficial bacteria do not exist in processed or pasteurized food.

When choosing probiotic supplements it is important to look for those that have viable and live bacterial cultures.

Probiotic bacteria have a significant effect in improving health benefits. Consuming adequate probiotic rich foods, cutting back on processed foods and increasing consumption of raw foods could hold the key to boosting your health.

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References:
N. Ishibahsi and S.Yamazaki; Probiotics and safety; AJCN, 2001, vol.73, no.2, 465s- 470s.
Fedorak, Richard N.; Madsen, Karen L; Probiotics and prebiotics in gastrointestinal disorders; Current Opinion in Gastroenterology: March 2004 – Volume 20 – Issue 2 – pp 146-155
Fuller R. Probiotics in human medicine. Gut 1991:32;439–42.

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