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.
80% of your immune system is located in your digestive tract. That makes sense. After all, where else would it be located? Your foot? In addition to this, next to your brain the gut is the largest part of our neurological system, which is why some call the stomach 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 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.
A few other ideas for naturally occurring probiotic food sources include: sauerkraut, kombucha, kimchi, miso, raw cheese, and sour pickles.
You might also consider taking a probiotic supplement if none of the above food choices meet your fancy - or if you're just looking for that extra gut biome edge. Life & Food brand make a fantastic acid resistant probiotic to help boost your gut biome game.