Wellness Wednesdays: The why and where of probiotics

Have you ever experienced stomach cramps or digestive problems whilst fighting an infection or after completing a course of antibiotics?

This is because the balance of friendly bacteria in the intestines have become disturbed. Were you ever given yoghurt to eat as child when this happened? This was for a very good reason; yoghurt is rich in probiotics.

Probiotics are organisms such as bacteria or yeast that are believed to improve overall health.

Other benefits of taking probiotics

  • Add friendly bacteria to your digestive system, improving absorption of nutrients and vitamins. 
  • A great defense against colds and flus along with the more well-known remedies of vitamin C, garlic and ginger. When fighting off an infection your body kills of all bacteria, including the good bacteria, so it needs to be replaced.
  • They fight of yeast and urinary tract infections by keeping the balance of healthy bacteria in the vagina.
  • They freshen up your breath, this is because your mouth and breath are an integral part of your digestive tract so an unhealthy digestive tract can cause bad breath.
  • Probiotics are also known to increase your body’s stress tolerance by preventing the growth of bad bacteria during stressful times.
  • With the right balance of microflora your body can fight off and alleviate allergies such as hay fever, eczema, asthma and food allergies.

Other foods rich in probiotics

  • Yoghurt – plain, low fat Greek yoghurt is best but any yoghurt that says it has live cultures is also fine.
  • Buttermilk – live cultures are added to ferment the milk sugars which makes buttermilk a good source of probiotics.
  • Kefir – a kind of drinkable yoghurt, kefir is made by fermenting milk with a culture of yeasts and bacteria that are referred to as kefir ‘grains’. Use it instead of milk on cereal or blend it into your morning fruit smoothie.
  • Miso – fermenting cooked soybeans with rice or barley, salt and koji (a starter culture) forms a red, white or dark coloured paste referred to as miso. Use in place of salt when cooking, especially good in salad dressings, soups, sauces, dips and pesto.
  • Sauerkraut – the fermentation process means that homemade sauerkraut is a good source of live, active cultures. If you are buying it check that the label states that it contains live cultures because if it has been heat treated the live cultures have been destroyed.
  • Kimchi – this is a popular Korean dish made of fermented and pickled cabbage miced with cayenne pepper, radish, ginger and onion. Like Sauerkraut, if it has been in a jar on shelves for months it means it has been heat treated and the live cultures have been destroyed.

Do you take probiotics as a supplement or try and include them naturally through foods in your daily diet?