Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that colonize our intestines and help regulate our digestion. Probiotics can also help boost our immunity. One of the ways our immunity is boosted is by the vitamins that probiotics produce during their life cycles, vitamins such as Vitamin K and Vitamin B. When probiotics are plentiful in your body they can help reduce incidence of urinary tract infections, yeast infections and other bacteria caused ailments since it is harder for the bacteria to get a hold in your system.
When mentioning probiotics most people think of the bacteria cultures found in yogurt. But, did you know probiotics are also found in kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha tea, soft cheeses and even pickles? See this WebMD link for a larger list of foods with probiotic benefits.
The caveat with probiotic foods is they must be prepared properly in order to deliver any associated benefits. Often times foods made for retail purchase are pasteurized, sterilized, boiled or irradiated, thus rendering any probiotics dead upon arrival. For instance, pickles made with vinegar do not deliver probiotic benefits. In order to get probiotics from pickles the pickling juice should be made of sea salt and water.
The age old beverage of kefir is finding a recent resurgence in the aisles of your local grocery store. Kefir is a probiotic drink rich in many different strains of helpful bacteria. Milk kefir is the usual kind found in your local grocery store and is made with milk kefir grains. The milk kefir brand I usually find in my local store is Lifeway. There is also water kefir which is usually made by letting water kefir grains feed off of a sugar water mixture.
There are many beneficial probiotics found in foods today. Getting a good balance of probiotics should lead to many positive health effects when consumed over a long term. Look for future posts discussing probiotic rich pickle recipes, kefir recipes (make your own), and more.