Probiotics – whether taken as supplements or from foods like kombucha, sauerkraut, and raw milk – are a hot topic this year and one of particular interest to those on a personal weight loss journey.
Of course, beneficial additions to a diet like probiotics need a positive diet to begin with for lasting results! Here, we favor the tried-and-true Weight Watchers program and community. If you’re on board and want to begin a journey toward weight loss and lifelong health, save yourself $10 with my special Ebates link here.
What are Probiotics?
Probiotics are naturally occurring good bacteria in our digestive tract that aid in digestion and absorption of our nutrients. They’re the “good bugs.” And because they are crucially important to consume, and should be included regularly in a well-rounded diet.
Why Do I Need Probiotics?
As mysterious as probiotics may seem, they are powerful, natural additions to a good diet and contribute to overall health in numerous ways. According to Dr. Axe, their wide-ranging benefits include:
- Stronger immune system
- Improved digestion
- Increased energy from production of vitamin B12
- Better breath because probiotics destroy candida
- Healthier skin, since probiotics improve eczema and psoriasis
- Reduced cold and flu
- Healing from leaky gut and inflammatory bowel disease
- Weight loss
Do Probiotics Aid in Weight Loss?
Encouragingly, in one study reported in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, overweight participants lost a significant amount of weight with probiotics. Those who consumed a cup of a fermented milk product for 12 weeks experienced a 4.6 per cent reduction in abdominal fat and a 3.3 per cent reduction in subcutaneous fat. There were no significant changes measured in the control group.
Does his mean that probiotics help process, burn, or flush away fat? So far, the research is inconclusive as to why probiotics and maintaining a healthy weight are related. However, it is interesting to note that those struggling with weight have been found to have strong imbalances of bad vs. good bacteria, while those of a healthy weight were far more balanced in their gut flora.
Food and Drink Sources of Probiotics
Traditional cultures around the world have long prepared special fermented foods to aid in digestion, increase immunity, and promote balance. There are many and varied rich sources of probiotics occuring in fermented foods to choose from! They include:
Probiotic Rich Drinks
- Kombucha: made from fermenting black tea and a SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast). Kombucha can be made in different ways, including continuous-brew and bottled for more fizz. Comes in a rainbow of flavors with the addition of juices.
- Cultured Sodas, like old-fashioned root beer, strawberry, apple ginger, and pomegranate. Start with a “ginger bug” and use in a myriad of tasty recipes!
- Kefir: originally from the Caucasus Mountains, this popular drink is made from fermenting milk and kefir grains, which are a bacterial/yeast fermentation starter.
- Coconut kefir: made from fermenting the juice of young coconuts with kefir grains. Does not contain as many probiotics as milk kefir, but is a dairy-free option that is great-tasting, too.
- Kvass: popular in its homeland of Russia and Ukraine, kvass is made from either beets, sourdough bread, and/or fruits. A slightly sour, refreshing red beverage that tastes like beer but is non-alcoholic.
- Apple cider vinegar: add a spoonful in a glass of water or incorporate into virtually any homemade salad dressing.
- Raw milk from grass-fed cows, goats, and sheep. A true naked, whole, superfood full of vitamins and enzymes. Find it in your area here.
- Raw milk products such as raw cheese, raw sour cream, etc.
- Yogurt: look for organic, grass-fed, and unpasteurized yogurt in the store or make your own!
Cultured & Fermented Vegetables
- Sauerkraut: the German staple alongside bratwurst, made with cabbage and salt. An easy introduction into the world of homemade fermented foods.
- Kimchi: the Korean version of sauerkraut made typically with napa cabbage, daikon radishes, and a variety of seasonings.
- Gherkin pickles, also called by their French name, cornichons. Cute, nubby, and tasty.
Traditionally Fermented Soy Products
Soy products, when traditionally fermented and in moderation, are a wonderful compliment to a healthy, traditional, iodine-rich diet. They include:
- Soy sauce: an accompaniment to so many tasty Asian foods, look for products made with truly health-promoting ingredients and methods like this one.
Supplements with Probiotics
If you’d like to begin incorporating probiotics into your diet right away, the easiest way may be through high-quality supplements. An excellent, comprehensive article about how to select probiotics through supplements is here, at The Healthy Home Economist.
Probiotics for Lifelong Health
Which probiotic rich foods and drinks sound appealing to you? I know I will definitely be trying the cultured sodas soon, especially at the onset of warmer weather. Cheers!