Not all bacteria are created equal! While many of us associate the term “anti-bacterial” with the healthy option, some bacteria—called probiotics—are actually very beneficial to our health. As the benefits of probiotics become more common knowledge, an increasing number of people are using probiotics to treat or improve illnesses or to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

What are probiotics?

Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that help your digestive system. These bacteria line the inside of your stomach and intestines and help your body absorb nutrients. These nutrient-absorbing bacteria are used to support your immune system. This is why if you are taking an antibiotic, your doctor may likely recommend introducing or increasing your probiotic intake to help your body regain the “healthy” bacteria it needs.

How do bacteria effect my gut health?

A lack of probiotics in the system may lead to negative side effects, including:
  • Digestive disorders, which may cause bloating
  • Skin issues
  • Frequent Candida (yeast) infections
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Frequent colds and flus
In contrast, a person that eats a diet high in probiotics may experience:
  • A healthier immune system
  • Improved digestion
  • Increased energy due to an increased production of vitamin B12
  • Weight loss or a decrease in bloating

How can I get the benefits of probiotics?

Probiotics are found in cultured dairy products and other fermented foods such as miso or kimchi. If you are unsure if you are getting enough probiotics in your diet, supplements are also available. When choosing a supplement, pay close attention to the number of live organisms per dose and whether the manufacturer takes steps to ensure the probiotics survive the packaging and delivery.

Looking for ways to incorporate cultured and fermented foods in your diet? Check out these nine foods that are full of probiotics:
  • Sauerkraut
  • Kefir
  • Kimchi
  • Yogurt
  • Tempeh
  • Kombucha
  • Miso
  • Pickles
  • Natto

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