Yogurt Isn’t The Only Source)

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8 Probiotics That Can Boost Your Health (Spoiler: Yogurt Isn’t The Only Source)

Trivia time: Name two probiotics other than yogurt.

If you had to think hard and you’re still unable to conjure up images of other probiotics, this post is for you. The word “probiotic” stands for promotion (pro) of life (biotic). Like it or not, we have a lot of tiny organisms living inside us. These organisms, also known as microorganisms are so many in number that they outnumber the human cells in our body. (Well, looks like we have been providing shelter to many tiny fellows inside us.) And probiotics are one such important bacteria that is good for us. Bacteria are infamous for causing diseases, but these probiotics are essential for our body to carry out the gastrointestinal functions smoothly.

What Do Probiotics Do?

What Do Probiotics Do

Probiotics can be a magic wand for a lot of health issues— like warding off infections, improving the immune system, fighting obesity, or even improving women’s health (1). Research has found that probiotics can effectively treat common gastrointestinal problems, namely antibiotic-associated diarrhea (AAD). There are multiple types of probiotics that are found in fermented foods (2). They have also earned themselves a great reputation in fighting against constipation. In some cases, probiotic therapy is prescribed to effectively treat Crohn’s disease, urinary tract infections, irritable bowel syndrome, bladder concerns, vaginal infections, ulcers, issues related to the colon, and eczema in children (3). One cannot underestimate the power of these critters, after all, can we?

However, if you have restricted yourself to plain or flavored yogurt for your daily dose of probiotics, then it’s time you look around for more options. You will be surprised to know that there are so many. Here’s a list to get you started on the probiotic feast:

1. Dark Chocolate

Dark Chocolate

You didn’t know that, did you? (If you did, pat yourself on the back) This variant of chocolate has some sweet health benefits. In addition to being a rich source of antioxidants and fiber, it’s also a great probiotic in itself. When you eat dark chocolate, the good bacteria in the gut eat it and feed on them, so they grow. And eventually, they produce anti-inflammatory compounds (4). Maybe you can dip some fruit in dark chocolate to reap the benefits of both.

2. Fermented Cheese

Fermented Cheese

All the cheese lovers in the house put your hands up in the air. Although cheese is a fermented product, not all types of cheese contain probiotics. The key is to check the labels for live cultures in the cheese. The types of cheese with rich probiotic content are cheddar, mozzarella, gouda, Swiss, and cottage cheese. According to the Journal of Applied Microbiology, the good bacteria in these cheeses actually survive the manufacturing and aging process (5).

3. Kombucha

Kombucha

How about a tea packed with probiotics? Kombucha is a fermented tea that is loaded with good bacterium (6). It is either a black or green tea that is often referred to as mushroom tea. It is packed with a lot of health benefits, predominantly those that ensure a proper functioning of the digestive and immune systems, reduce inflammation, and help in weight loss (7). Kombucha is a powerhouse of good bacteria like Saccharomyces and Gluconacetobacter xylinus.

4. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple Cider Vinegar

This one is a little tricky. Since apple cider vinegar has a wide range of uses, it is usually found in every household. So it’s easy to get your hands on this probiotic-rich drink. And no brownie points for guessing what this vinegar is made of. The apple components are great for the gut bacteria (8). But, one shouldn’t consume this directly, and instead, opt to dilute it with water or add it to food.

5. Pickles

Pickles

Pickles are low in calories, high in sodium and potassium and great to munch on for some good health. Pickled cucumbers are great for the gut health. But, be sure to choose sour pickles and not the ones that are doused with vinegar (9). A solution made of sea salt and water is a great atmosphere for the good bacteria to grow.

6. Kefir

Kefir

It is a probiotic milk-drink that is made by adding kefir grains to milk. It is all the rage in the world of health. It tastes great when added to milkshakes and smoothies and is delicious for ingesting some probiotics (10).

7. Miso

Miso

Since we are on a mission to find probiotics, let’s look at the Japanese cuisine for some fermented source of cancer fighting-probiotics (11). Miso is a seasoning used in most Japanese dishes. It is high in protein, fiber, vitamins, and probiotics. So the next time you visit a restaurant for sushi, get yourself a bowl of miso soup to keep cerebral and myocardial infarctions at bay (12).

The next time you find yourself staring at a box of yogurt, steer yourself in the direction of unpasteurized foods like kefir, sauerkraut, etc. You can up the probiotic count in your diet and stay fit (also you will not get bored of eating the same old yogurt all day).

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