Probiotics have been ever growing in popularity. There are probiotic supplements in various forms, probiotic yogurts, kombucha tea, fermented food, and plenty of other options. So what is the best source of probiotics to upgrade your gut health? Before we dive into the biome, let's first cover the basics.
Probiotics are what as known as “helpful bacteria”. More specifically they are live bacteria and yeasts that occur naturally in the body. They are particularly excellent at keeping your gut healthy. The scientific community’s and now the public’s fascination with probiotics is a relatively recent one, beginning in the mid-1990’s. There is still much to learn about which probiotics do what and the true extent of the their health benefits. However, more recently research has been suggesting the direct correlations between a healthy gut to overall healthier biological function.
80% of your immune system is located in your digestive tract. In addition, next to your brain the gut is the largest part of our neurological system, which is why some refer to the stomach as 'the second brain'.
So, clearly giving your gut health a gut check is of upmost importance to your overall health. Probiotics are here to save the day. They work by restoring good bacteria in your gut when there isn’t enough (like after taking antibiotics) and keep a balance between the good and bad bacteria. Now here’s a list of just some of the ways in which probiotics can improve your health.
Certain strains of probiotics have even been shown to affect mental health, mitigating symptoms of anxiety and depression.
There are a good number of foods that contain naturally occurring probiotic properties. You're probably most familiar with probiotic yogurt, which is an ideal source as long as it doesn't contain artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup, or too much sugar. These ingredients can actually have an adverse effect on your gut - so be sure to read the labels. A couple of years ago there was an incredible Yogurt Report put together by the Cornucopia Institute which ranks a ton of yogurts based on their nutritional profile - it's a truly awesome resource.
One of our favorite natural sources of probiotics is organic goat's milk kefir. Kefir contains a healthy amount of probiotics (even more than yogurt) because it has been fermented with yeast, which facilitates the growth of even more bacteria. Fair warning, kefir does have a bit of a tangy taste and might take a bit of getting used to, but it's the perfect probiotic rich food to blend right into your daily smoothie or protein shake.
Another one of our absolute favorites is kombucha. Kombucha is a probiotic tea beverage which has been fermented with a living yeast-filled organism called a scoby. Kombucha tea can be a tasty way to drink your probiotics and strengthen your gut. Fair warning, be wary of several store bought brands upping the sugar content to mask the naturally occurring sour taste of kombucha. Always check the label and seek out brands with a lower sugar content when possible. One of our favorites here in-house is the Health-Aide Kombucha brand, tasty flavors and lower in sugar.
If you're looking for something other than probiotic beverages you can also try your taste buds on fermented foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, or sour pickles. Raw unpasteurized cheese is another way to mix a healthy probiotic food source into your nutrition. These are all great options for getting gut boosting bacteria into your biome, naturally.
If none of the above food choices meet your fancy or if you're just looking for that extra gut biome edge, you might also consider taking a probiotic supplement. Life & Food brand make a fantastic acid resistant probiotic to help boost your gut biome game.