Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mississippi

The 'Pros' of Probiotics

Pebbles Counts, M.S., RDN, L.D

Probiotics are currently one of the hottest topics in nutrition, known to benefit many conditions such as gastrointestinal (GI) disease, obesity and allergies. You may know what probiotics are and why they are important, but do you know the many sources probiotics are found in? Yogurt and supplements are definitely the most common items that people may grab when they need a dose of probiotics. The probiotic beverage and fermented foods industry has become one of the fastest growing probiotic segments this year. This demand has been linked to individuals looking for convenient ways to get a daily dose of probiotics in a food or beverage group instead of taking a supplement.

One particular type of probiotic beverage that has been around for many years is fermented milk beverages, the most common being kefir. Kefir contains yeast and close to a dozen different bacteria that can help in reducing cholesterol and regulating your immune system. It also contains protein and healthful doses of vitamins A and D. There are also specific types of yogurt which contain bacteria that promote gut health. Fruit and vegetable-based probiotic juice products can appeal to a wide variety of consumers such as children, vegans and those with milk allergies. However, you need to be aware that these drinks are higher in calories since they are naturally high in sugar. Probiotic sodas and waters are also probiotic beverages gaining popularity. And kombucha soda or tea can be a great replacement for caffeinated products since it contains a small amount of sugar and a lot of bubbly fizz.

If you aren’t too keen on drinking your probiotics, there are “fermented foods” that are easily accessible and easy to incorporate into your diet. Those foods include yogurt (easily the most popular), sauerkraut, smoothies, fermented cheeses, tempeh, miso, pickles and soy sauce. Vegetables and salsa that are “canned” at home go through a fermentation process which makes them “fermented foods” as well. So if you have been canning foods at home, it’s a good chance you have been including probiotics in your diet and you didn’t even know it! It is true that fermented foods and beverages are a nutrition trend which tend to make people scared to try it. I encourage you to try adding one of these products into your diet and watch the results. Just like anything else, it is possible to overdo it with fermented foods. So, try them in moderation and let how you feel be your guide.

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