Series Part 1: Probiotics – The latest buzz in nutrients

This is Part 1 in my series:  4 Anti Aging Super Nutrients and the foods that contain them…

Anti Aging Super Nutrient - Probiotics
Anti Aging Super Nutrient - Probiotics

Have you heard about Probiotics?  I have.  It’s posted on blogs, discussed on Dr. Oz, shared from friend to friend……so what exactly is going on?

Apparently, as we age, our digestive systems slow down and their overall health status is dependent on our eating habits.  Well…I have had many periods where my eating habits would not be listed under ‘healthy’ living.  Plus I have inherited a little problem called IBS – irritable bowel syndrome which had gotten worse as I age.  So, when I heard about probiotics and their benefits, I decided to investigate.

According to Wikipedia, probiotics are live microorganisms that provide a strong health benefit when digested in adequate amounts.  Today, specific health effects are being investigated and documented including alleviation of chronic intestinal inflammatory diseases, prevention and treatment of pathogen-induced diarhhea, urogenital infections, and atopic diseases.

In my studies, I learned that probiotics are friendly – live – bacteria found in the intestinal tract.  There are trillions of bacteria types in our colon; good ones and bad ones.  Warding off the bad by consuming the good allows our intestinal wall to construct a barrier against the bad.  Probiotics do this job and more: current evidence suggests that they may help in weight loss.  Current research states that one part of the obesity problem many are facing may be an imbalance of bacteria.  Adding probiotic foods daily will help balance your digestive system, resulting in an overall increase in the efficiency of digestion.

Ok, that did it for me.  Now – where do I find probiobic foods and how much do I need to eat?  It was far simpler that I expected.  While there is no RDA given for probiotics; recommended levels to maintain health, a count of 5-10 billion is adequate. Sound like a lot?  I thought it did until I realized that there are 17 billion probiotics in a 6 oz. serving of yogurt.  This is doable.

The TOP 10 PROBIOTIC foods:
Recommendation: 2 daily servings.

1. Yogurt
(6 oz. container = 1 serving)

One of the best probiotic foods is live-cultured yogurt, especially handmade. Low-fat is best; it can be plain, fruit flavored, or Greek-style. Look for brands made from goat milk that has been infused with extra forms of probitoics like lactobacillus or acidophilus. Goat’s milk and cheese are particularly high in probiotics like thermophillus, bifudus, bulgaricus and acidophilus. Love milk? Try low-fat acidophilus milk – it tastes like low-fat milk! (1 cup = 1 daily serving)

2. Kefir
(1 cup = 1 serving)

Similar to yogurt, great for making smoothies, this fermented dairy product is a unique combination of goat milk and fermented grains. High in lactobacilli and bifidus bacteria, Kefir is also rich in antioxidants. Look for a good, organic version at your local health food shop.

3. Sauerkraut
(1/2 cup – 1 serving)  Made from fermented cabbage (as well as other vegetables), sauerkraut is not only extremely rich in healthy live cultures, but also aids in reducing allergy symptoms. Sauerkraut is also rich in vitamins B, A, E and C.

4. Dark Chocolate

Yes, I did say chocolate! A good, high-quality dark chocolate has four times the amount of probiotics as many forms of dairy. This is only one of the health benefits of chocolate. Remember to eat chocolate in moderation.

5. Microalgae

This refers to super-food ocean-based plants such as spirulina, chorella, and blue-green algae.  These probiotic foods have been shown to increase the amount of both lactobacillus and bifidobacteria in the digestive tract. They also offer the most amount of energetic return, per ounce, for the human system.

6. Miso Soup

Miso Soup Probiotics
Miso Soup Probiotics

Miso is one the main-stays of Japanese traditional medicine, and is commonly used in macrobiotic cooking as a digestive regulator. Made from fermented rye, beans, rice or barley, adding a tablespoon of miso to some hot water makes an excellent, quick, probiotic-rich soup, full of lactobacilli and bifidus bacteria.

 

7. Pickles

Believe it or not, the common green pickle is an excellent food source of probiotics.

8. Tempeh

A great substitute for meat or tofu, Tempeh is a fermented, probiotic-rich grain made from soy beans. A great source of vitamin B12, this vegetarian food can be sautéed, baked or eaten crumbled on salads. If prepared correctly, Tempeh is also very low in salt, which makes it an ideal choice for those on a low-sodium diet.

9. Kimchi

An Asian form of pickled sauerkraut, Kimchi is an extremely spicy and sour fermented cabbage, typically served alongside most meals in Korea. Besides from beneficial bacteria, Kimchi is also a great source of beta-carotene, calcium, iron and vitamins A, C, B1 & B2 and is one of the best probiotic foods you can add to your diet, assuming you can handle the spice, of course.

10. Kombucha Tea

This is a form of fermented tea high in healthy gut bacteria. This probiotic drink has been used for centuries and is believed to help increase your energy, enhance your wellbeing and maybe even help you lose weight. However, Kombucha tea may not be the best fit for everyone, especially those that already have a problem with candida.

Other Sources of Probiotics

Besides probiotic foods, you can get plenty of beneficial bacteria by taking a probiotic supplement.  Make sure they contain 10 to 20 billion colony-forming units (CFUs) per dose.

As always, I am interested in your ideas or information.  Please post me a note if you have any favorite foods with probiotics. Your comments are greatly appreciated!

~ Barbara

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