Everybody's heard of probiotics — and probably about their health benefits!
But do you know what they are, really?
Celeb dietitian and founder of "The Nutritious Life," Keri Glassman, is here to explain and to give you the 411 on staying healthy by keeping your gut bacteria happy.
WHAT ARE PROBIOTICS?
Probiotics are live microorganisms which when consumed, result in a health benefit.
In our guts, we've got a whole ecosystem of good and bad bacteria and the goal is to keep everything balanced. When the balance is tipped towards bad bacteria due to various causes like lack of sleep or stress, it can affect your digestive health.
Keeping that balance can support overall immune health and even help relieve occasional stomach discomfort.
WHAT FOODS CONTAIN PROBIOTICS?
Probiotics are found in fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, kefir, yogurt and kombucha. When foods are fermented, the result is this good bacteria. "I often recommend that people add at least one fermented food to their diets every day," says Keri, "and it's really easy to do."
And she proved it by giving us an example for every meal!
BREAKFAST: "You could easily add kefir or yogurt to a smoothie, but I really like to do a bowl of greens topped with a fried egg and kimchi," says Keri. "Kimchi is a Korean dish made from salted and fermented cabbage and sometimes other veggies and it's got a sort of salty and sour and spicy flavor that gives a nice kick to this dish."
LUNCH: "I like a salad with a super simple apple cider vinegar dressing. You just mix apple cider vinegar with olive oil and a drop of Dijon," she says.
SNACK: "Yogurt with raspberries or chia seeds is great, or even olives with parmesan cheese," Keri says.
DINNER: "Finally, for dinner, a burger on a whole grain bun with lettuce, tomato and two sliced pickles," she suggests. Not too shabby, eh?
DON'T FORGET ABOUT PREBIOTICS!
Also important? Prebiotics. While probiotics add good bacteria to your body, prebiotics feed your body's good bacteria. Together, they support your overall digestive health by helping to maintain that balance of flora, or bacteria, in the gut.
So where do you find prebiotics? Foods like raw garlic, raw asparagus, onions and bananas, and really any high-fiber foods have prebiotics.
"I know raw garlic seems rough," Keri says, "but it's easy to eat in salad dressing form or even better smashed into a paste and spread on thinly sliced bruschetta."
While eating food with probiotics is a great thing, not all of the probiotics you ingest are going to make it all the way to your gut. Like any food, it travels through your stomach first and there, your stomach acid breaks everything up. For a lot of nutrients and probiotics from food or supplements, that stomach acid is the end of the line. For some people, it's easier to take a probiotic supplement.
Learn more about the benefits of probiotics and prebiotics in the video above.