This is ultimate guide to natural Probiotics is part of a sponsored shop courtesy of #NaturalProbiotic and #CollectiveBias.
When I was younger, I knew that I should take probiotics right after doing a round of antibiotics when I was sick with strep throat (that’s an illness I seemed to get yearly as a teenager). I wasn’t really sure why this was the case but I knew that things could go badly when I didn’t – not going to say what exactly happens cause that would be a bit of TMI.
Anyway, for a while there I associated probiotics with antibiotics and thought of them as a pair. You take one for a round, then you take the other. This is actually not true.
I mentioned my recent dietary changes due to some digestive issues I was experiencing and this was the main reason why I made it my mission to prevent feeling that discomfort again. Going through the Gabriel Code body transformation program also drilled digestion a lot as well, especially in the first module.
What are Probiotics?
Probiotics are live microorganisms (mostly “good” bacteria) that help maintain the natural balance of microflora in the gut. These bacteria are used to prevent and alleviate many issues that might be experienced that are linked to the gastrointestinal tract.
Although these good bacteria are similar to the ones we have in our own guts, the thing is – we don’t necessarily need probiotics to be healthy. They do, however, have great benefits on health and digestion which we will get into in a little bit.
What are some of these “good” bacteria?
Before we get into the health benefits of probiotics, let’s break down the different types of this “friendly” bacteria. There are actually more than 400 microorganisms in the human digestive tract but we will focus on only the most commonly known ones here:
- Lactobacillus bulgaricus – can be found in many soft cheeses and yogurt. It helps to convert lactose and other sugars into lactic acid which may be particularly helpful to those of us who are lactose sensitive or intolerant.
- Streptococcus thermophilus – these are also found in many soft cheeses and yogurt and they work together with L.bulgaricus by making nutrients that assist with growth.
- Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus casei – both convert lactose into lactic acid – also helping the lactose intolerant. There is research that shows that the former also has the ability to lower cholesterol levels.
- Lactobacillus fermentum – helps neutralize some of the toxic products that are made during digestion as well as promotes a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut.
- Bifidobacteria longum – helps to ween out bad bacteria that cause discomfort and helps to neutralize everyday toxins in the gut. Additionally, it has been shown to help break down carbohydrates without producing excess gas.
- B. infantis – recently shown to not only help with digestion but also may have an effect in reducing inflammation in psoriasis and helping chronic fatigue syndrome.
The Health Benefits of Probiotics
As mentioned above, the main benefit of probiotics deals with its effect on gastrointestinal tract as well as protection from “bad” bacteria out there. Although more evidence needs to be provided to make these claims as definite, here is a list of probable health benefits of using probiotics:
- Treat diarrhea, especially following an antibiotic treatment
- Prevent vaginal yeast infections and urinary tract infections
- Treat irritable bowel syndrome
- Reduce bladder cancer recurrence
- Speed up treatment of certain intestinal infections
- Prevent and treat eczema in children
- Prevent and treat the severity of colds and flu
Side effects are rare and most adults can add foods to their diet that involve probiotics without any worry. Of course, as with any medical change and supplements, you should contact your medical practitioner before using a probiotic as a dietary supplement to ensure it is right for you.
Top Foods with Probiotics
Yes you heard right – if you are not big on supplements, you can get your probiotic benefits simply through adding some of these foods into your diet. Notice that most of these are fermented foods – fermentation seems to be the thing to add probiotics to the food. I didn’t know this, did you?
- Yogurt – This one is a given and probably the most commonly known food that contains probiotics. Make sure you get one that mentions that it contains live and active cultures and don’t go crazy on making your yogurt too fun – look out for any additives and sugars in the ingredients list. Check out my recipes that include yogurt.
- Kefir – Oh my love – I love kefir because it is 99% lactose-free. Kefir is fermented milk and it has a nice tangy flavor, it can be described as a mix between yogurt and milk.
- Kombucha tea – Fermented tea has taken the healthy living blogosphere by the storm but I still have not had the chance to try it. I’ve heard mixed reviews about the taste so I’m a bit wary. Kombucha is a dark tea that has been found to increase energy and help with the stomach’s natural digestion.
- Sauerkraut – along with its spicy relative, kimchi, are filled with probiotics and helps ward of infection. Try to opt for unpasteurized sauerkraut as pasteurization kills a lot of those good bacteria in the process.
- Soy Milk – soy has naturally occurring probiotics but some soy milks in the market have additional live and active cultures added which packs an even bigger probiotic punch.
- Miso Soup – Who doesn’t love this simple Japanese appetizer 😉 This tofu and vegetable broth soup contains around 160 probiotic strains and is low in calories but also high in protein.
- Dark chocolate – Seeing this one on the list definitely brings a smile to my face – this delicious and nutritious treat is filled with antioxidants and probiotics, given that you go as dark as you can handle. Preferably more than 70% cacao.
My 2-week Insync Probiotic experiment
I went to Amazon to get Insync Probiotic, which is a new probiotic dietary supplement that has gradual release technology. Insync contains B.Infantis which is doctor recommended and said to be helpful all around (see point above). I tried the product for a two week try before deciding on my opinion.
In terms of breakdown, Insync provides six strands in each serving including:
- Bifidobacterium infantis SD-5845 (8mg)
- Proprietary Probiotic blend (8mg)
- Bifidobacterium lactis
- Bifidobacterium longum
- Bifidobacterium bifidum
- Proprietary Probiotic blend (7mg)
- Lactobacillus plantarum
- Lactobacillus acidophilus
The difference between this product and other probiotic brands I’ve tried is that this particular one does not require refrigeration. It is also the first brand I’ve tried that does not provide the probiotics in a capsule form – it’s a pressed oval pill form instead.
I was a bit reluctant about the fact that these were not refigeratable since these are live bacteria and they are known to require cold temperatures to stay alive (or so I’ve believed). After checking their website, I learned that the reason for the form is because it allows the tablet to be gradual release and it therefore actually fully reaches the gut when the bacteria is still alive. This is possible with the help of their GI Guard Technology which protects the bacteria from stomach acid. Interesting stuff.
My thoughts about Insync
Anyway, I enjoyed this natural probiotic because:
- The fact that they do not require refrigeration makes them easier and more convenient and I am therefore more likely to remember to actually take them (I put them by my computer on my desk which I sit at every morning before breakfast, the bottle serves as a great reminder to take it)
- The tablets are small and easy to swallow
- While it’s hard to say how well they work compared to other probiotics I’ve taken, I felt that they are comparable to others. I had less digestive issues than I do when I don’t take probiotics and I did not get sick during the duration of my 2 week experiment (Maybe it’s the probiotics’ immune boosting benefits? Or maybe it’s just me being naturally awesome at resisting colds? Who really knows anyway)
I get all my Insync Probiotics on Amazon because they have awesome prices and you can’t beat their free two-day shipping!
Questions for you:
- Do you take probiotics?
- Do you enjoy eating any of the probiotic foods listed?