Probiotics are an important part of gut function. Your digestive system should be full of good bacteria helping you digest your food. These bacteria help you break down the nutrition in your food so that it can move smoothly through the digestive system which makes them a crucial part of the digestive process. Probiotics’ benefits cannot be overstated.
The good and bad news is that what we eat influences the balance of these bacteria.
Probiotics are most beneficial in gut-related chronic illnesses like Crohn’s & ulcerative colitis (IBD) and IBS. However, research is finding links to benefits in skin conditions like eczema, urinary health, vaginal health (hello, endometriosis babes!), oral health, and even preventing common illnesses like colds and seasonal allergies.
Probiotics’ benefits help those with:
- depression and anxiety
- immune function issues
Yes, please, to all of the above for me! 🙋🏻
A few other benefits of probiotics:
- Weight loss
- Blood pressure
- Blood cholesterol
- Sleeping problems
- Joint stiffness
Man! What can’tprobiotics do?!
Things that decrease the number of good bacteria in your gut:
- High sugar intake
- High processed food intake
- Chronic stress
- Poor sleep
It’s clear to see how beneficial probiotics are in so many areas, and we see that it’s easy to throw off the balance of our guts through our lifestyles in the list above.
You may be asking: Where can I find these magical probiotics?!
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I am not a medical professional. This is simply advice based on what works for me. Consult the appropriate medical professional before making changes to your diet or routine.
Kombucha is my favorite probiotic source. It’s a fermented tea chock full of the good bacteria that help maintain balance in the gut. The history of kombucha is not known for sure. It’s believed to be from China and may be anywhere from 200 to 2,000 years old. Now widely available at grocery stores from Whole Foods to Target, it’s an easy way to get a great dose of probiotics. I’ve even bought it at rest stops on road trips!
Kefir is another fermented drink that’s a fantastic source of probiotics. It can be hard to find vegan kefir because it’s often a yogurt drink, but kefir water is becoming easier to find in stores next to the kombucha. Just like kombucha, you can make this at home with almond milk or coconut milk.
That’s right. The German cabbage you can throw on top of anything gives you a dose of good bacteria. When cabbage is packed in brine (salt water), anaerobic respiration creates an environment that’s perfect for bacteria lactobacillus. This is also very simple to make at home.
I’ve never been a fan of spicy food, but if you like it, kimchi is a fabulous option. Just like sauerkraut, the cabbage ferments and creates a diverse culture of probiotics that will help you build up the good bacteria your digestion needs to function smoothly. As you’re catching on, easy to make your own at home.
Miso is a paste of fermented soy beans or chickpeas. You can add it to soup and sauces to supercharge your meals. I LOVE this orange miso dressing from Oh She Glows. I put it on all kinds of salads and power bowls. Miso is less easy to make at home, so I leave this one to the experts and buy it at the store. It’s usually in the refrigerated section near the tofu and tempeh.
Getting a good probiotic supplement can be difficult. You want to look for something with a culture of 1 billion units containing a variety of strains. Survivability is also key. If the probiotics in your supplement die before they get to the small intestine, then you won’t get any of their benefits.
Enter, Thrive Probiotics. They make an incredible probiotic that has a variety of strains that survive all the way to the small intestine. They have done clinical trials and developed the best probiotic on the market, hands down. Go to Thrive Probiotics and use coupon code BALANCED to get 10% off.
Some problems with probiotic supplements:
- They aren’t regulated, so they may not have the amount of beneficial bacteria the label says
- The bacteria might not survive and make it to the gut
- It might not have enough bacteria to make it effective
You avoid all of that with Thrive Probiotics. HUGE bonus: they donate to Vitamin Angels so children in poverty can get the nutrition they deserve.
Any time my digestion is off or I am bloated or constipated, probiotics are the first thing I ramp up. I can always tell a difference when I take in enough probiotic-rich food and include my daily probiotic supplement.
How do you feel when you focus on probiotic intake? Can you tell a difference? Let me know in the comments, and share this post with anyone who would benefit from increasing their probiotics! You just might get them hooked on their new favorite food!
Other helpful resources:
- 8 Tips to Eat Clean and Vegan on a Low Fiber Diet for a Stricture
- How to Avoid Dehydration and Malnutrition During a Flare
- What to Do During a Flare: A Beginner’s Guide