Probiotics are live bacteria that are beneficial to the human body. It is a fermented product that deliver a dose of healthy bacteria. They are produced by the action of lactic acid bacteria and yeast or the combination of both.
These fermented products are good for the body in a few ways.
- Break down sugars to more digestible and healthier products
- Break down carbohydrates into easier to digest and healthier foods
- Help control harmful bacteria in the body
- Fight diarrhea
- Help with indigestion
- Fight chronic inflammation
- Boost immune system function
It’s a good idea to make probiotics part of your weekly diet. In fact, you should eat a variety of types of probiotics as each one offers a different type of beneficial bacteria to help the body in different ways.
7 Types of ‘Friendly’ Bacteria
- Lactobacillus acidophilus
- Lactobacillus bulgarius
- Lactobacillus reuteri
- Streptococcus thermophilus
- Saccharomyces boulardii
- Bifidobacterium bifidum
- Bacillus subtilis
No matter how much you know about probiotics or not it’s vital to make them a part of your daily (or at least weekly) diet. There are some sources for probiotics with more to offer than others but generally speaking the following list of ten probiotics provides the consumer with a source of good or friendly bacteria.
1. Yogurt (Raw milk or goat’s milk)
Made from bacteria that ferments the natural sugars in milk, yogurt is a classic food that just about everyone has had before. Using raw milk or goat’s milk preserves the natural sugars and other nutritious elements that would otherwise be destroyed in a pasteurization process. Store bought yogurt is generally all put through this process and is further processed by adding additional sugars or flavorings. If you do purchase yogurt in a store, make sure it is plain yogurt with no flavors, colors or other additives.
Kefir is a popular drink in much of Europe. It is especially asked for in Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Hungary. It is made by adding kefir grains to milk from a cow, goat, or sheep. This mixture is then left to ferment for a day. This fermentation process breaks down the lactose in milk to create a lactose-free product.
Today you can also find kefir made from soy, coconut, or rice milk. You can drink Kefir alone or use it as a substitute for milk in recipes.
Miso is a traditional Japanese spice found in many of their traditional foods. If you’ve ever been to a Japanese restaurant you may have seen their Miso soup.
It is created by fermenting soybean, barley, or brown rice with koji. Koji is a fungus and the fermentation process takes anywhere from a few days to a few years to complete.
Miso can be made into a soup, spread on crackers, use it anywhere you’d use butter, or just about anywhere you want.
Natto has a distinct odor (often considered pungent.) It is a type of fermented soybean. Japanese staple it most often eaten with rice for breakfast.
5. Fermented Cabbage
Sauerkraut and kimchi are both fermented cabbage products offering the healthy kind of bacteria or probiotics. Sauerkraut is the German version and kimchi is the Korean version of this fermented cabbage.
Hailing from Indonesia this fermented soybean product is another source of probiotics. Tempeh is created by adding a tempeh starter to soybeans. The product is then left to sit for a day or two. The result is a cake-like product.
You can eat tempeh raw or by boiling it and eating it with miso or soy sauce. It can also be used as a substitute for meat in a stir fry meal. This is commonly deep fried before eating but beware this can greatly reduce its nutritional value.
7. Brine-cured olives
Olives that are brine cured are an excellent source of probiotics too. Be sure you select a product that is organic first. Next be certain that your olives aren’t made from a huge manufacturer. Choose a smaller company that advertises probiotics. Also make sure that your olives don’t contain sodium benzoate.
You can eat the olives by themselves as a snack or include them in your favorite recipes.
8. Salted gherkin pickles
These fermented tasty treats are also a little recognized source of probiotics. Again, choose a food manufacturer that uses organic products and also a smaller one. If you can find a local maker you’ll be getting some of the best probiotics for your health.
9. Fermented cheeses
Cheeses are created by fermentation. The process involves adding microbes to the starter product (a culture of lactic acid bacteria) and allowing it to ferment. The fermentation process can take a few days or a few years depending on the specific desired end product. The end result? Cheese. Aged cheeses may have more beneficial bacteria.
10. Apple cider vinegar
This offers probiotics too. Great for controlling blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes and even weight loss, apple cider vinegar is a great daily addition that will bring many benefits. Drink a small bit each day or use it as a salad dressing. Read more about apple cider vinegar from this article.
With the craze for probiotics many food manufacturers are simply trying to jump on the band wagon and cash in for themselves. If you’re serious about getting immune system boosting, digestive helping probiotics into your diet then consider some of the food sources listed in the beginning of this article. If you do need to supplement your probiotic intake, this is what I personally take.
For additional reading, read my 2009 article explaining more of the benefits of probiotics and your health.