Nutrition advice

How to incorporate probiotics for optimum health

5/4/2024
4 min


In the journey towards a healthy lifestyle, probiotics play a pivotal role. Often referred to as "beneficial bacteria," these living microorganisms, when consumed in the right amounts, provide numerous health benefits, particularly for our digestive and immune systems.

1. Understanding probiotics

Probiotics are bacteria and yeasts that primarily live in our digestive system. Unlike the often negative perception of bacteria, probiotics are crucial for maintaining the balance of microorganisms in our gut, also known as the microbiota. This balance is vital for our overall health (1).

2. Benefits of probiotics
  • Improving digestion: Probiotics aid in breaking down food, thus facilitating digestion and nutrient absorption (1).
  • Boosting the immune system: By balancing the gut flora, probiotics could help strengthen our immune system, making us less susceptible to infections (2).
  • Combating gastrointestinal disorders: They are especially noted for their potential role in preventing and treating conditions such as diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) (1).
3. Common food containing probiotics

Probiotics naturally occur in fermented foods that are not cooked. Common sources include (3):

  • Yogurt: A fermented dairy product known for its live cultures that promote good gut health.
  • Kefir: A fermented milk or water drink, containing a wide range of lactic acid bacteria and yeasts.
  • Certain cheeses: Aged cheeses like gouda, which retain their live probiotic cultures during fermentation.
  • Miso and natto: Japanese soy-based foods; miso is a paste used as a condiment, while natto is known for its fermented beans, both rich in probiotics.
  • Tempeh: An Indonesian fermented soy product, solid and high in protein, offering a vegetarian probiotic option.
  • Uncooked fermented vegetables: Korean kimchi and European sauerkraut are examples of fermented vegetables, a source of probiotics and fiber.
  • Kombucha: Fermented black or green tea with a culture of bacteria and yeast, known for its unique probiotic profile.
4. Incorporating probiotics into every meal

To maximize the benefits of probiotics, it is advisable to include them in every meal, including snacks. Here are some practical tips:

Breakfast:

Lunch and dinner:

Snack:

Drink:

These varied options make it easy to incorporate probiotics into your diet throughout the day.

5. Considerations and advice relating to probiotics

It's recommended to consult a healthcare professional before starting probiotic supplements. Diet remains an excellent source of probiotics, and incorporating a variety of fermented foods into your daily routine can help improve your gut health (4).

Towards better health with probiotics

Adding probiotics to your diet is a simple and effective way to boost your digestive and immune health. By consciously choosing foods rich in probiotics, you take a step further towards better health.

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References

  1. Wieërs G, Belkhir L, Enaud R, Leclercq S, Philippart de Foy JM, Dequenne I, de Timary P, Cani PD. How Probiotics Affect the Microbiota. Front Cell Infect Microbiol. 2020 Jan 15;9:454. doi: 10.3389/fcimb.2019.00454. PMID: 32010640; PMCID: PMC6974441.
  2. Harper A, Vijayakumar V, Ouwehand AC, Ter Haar J, Obis D, Espadaler J, Binda S, Desiraju S, Day R. Viral Infections, the Microbiome, and Probiotics. Front Cell Infect Microbiol. 2021 Feb 12;10:596166. doi: 10.3389/fcimb.2020.596166. PMID: 33643929; PMCID: PMC7907522.
  3. Dimidi, Eirini, Selina Rose Cox, Megan Rossi, and Kevin Whelan. 2019. "Fermented Foods: Definitions and Characteristics, Impact on the Gut Microbiota and Effects on Gastrointestinal Health and Disease" Nutrients 11, no. 8: 1806. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11081806
  4. Leeuwendaal NK, Stanton C, O'Toole PW, Beresford TP. Fermented Foods, Health and the Gut Microbiome. Nutrients. 2022 Apr 6;14(7):1527. doi: 10.3390/nu14071527. PMID: 35406140; PMCID: PMC9003261.

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