Have you ever heard the saying: “your gut is the second brain?”
Well, your gut is home to trillions of microorganisms that significantly affect your whole body. The living microbes help with digestive, metabolic, and immune system functions. That’s why it’s essential to maintain good gut health. Everyday life occurrences such as stress, aging, low diet, and environmental influences can result in the loss of microorganisms and lead to larger health concerns.
That’s where probiotics come in--probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that can benefit your health when consumed in the right amounts. Probiotics are shown to help skin health, boost your immune system, eliminate toxins, manage gastrointestinal issues, assist in nutrient absorption, and positively influence mood.
We usually associate germs as the culprits of disease, but your body is actually full of good and bad bacteria. Probiotics are the “good guys” of bacteria that help keep your gut healthy and organs functioning properly.
Using natural probiotic foods, as well as supplements, is one of the best ways to improve your gut health. Here we will explain the pros and cons of each, and explain the best way to get your probiotic fix.
Natural Probiotic Foods Benefits
Here are some of the benefits you can get from choosing to get your probiotics through natural probiotic foods that you won’t receive from a probiotic supplement.
The bacteria and yeast in fermented foods will increase the ability to digest food due to the enzymes they carry and release while you chew and swallow food. This further aids the process of breaking down food, even before it enters your mouth.
This process of breaking down food components can be a great benefit for a person’s immune system and food sensitivities. Specifically, the good bacteria help break down carbohydrates. The process of fermenting and metabolizing helps the body function properly.
Probiotic-packed foods are more nutrient-dense than other foods and are more easily absorbed in the body. Probiotics contain vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12 and K. By eating more natural probiotic foods in your diet, you can be sure that you’ll get those nutrients in their purest form.
Variety of Natural Probiotic Foods
One of the best parts about eating natural probiotic foods is that there are many different types of foods out there. Feel free to mix these gut-healthy foods for optimal benefits.
- Sauerkraut: This traditional Eastern European staple is a type of fermented cabbage. We love making raw kraut at Cleveland Kitchen--and we have several delicious flavors! For more information about sauerkraut visit here!
- Kimchi: There are many different types of this traditional Korean fermented dish out there, with a mix of bases of cabbage, radish, scallions and more.
- Yogurt: This breakfast staple is made from fermented milk (which also can be non-dairy), with a starter culture of bacteria.
- Pickles: Love them or hate them, these lacto-fermented cucumbers can be a tasty snack or on a salad. Or try making them at home!
Natural Probiotic Foods Cons
Although there are many benefits to consuming naturally probiotic-filled foods, in order for the probiotics to do their job they have to be “alive” at the time of consumption. Given this, it can be challenging due to the storage effect and food processing for the lifespan of probiotic organisms.
That’s why here at Cleveland Kitchen, we use raw sauerkraut to ensure we get the most nutrients. As you likely know, raw sauerkraut like ours is naturally probiotic and rich in gut-friendly bacteria.
Since fermentation is a natural process, we do not know the exact count at any given time, but there are billions in each pouch. Leading dietitians recommend two forkfuls a day for optimal gut health.
Probiotic supplements can be found in many health food stores and are easily accessible. The supplement form of probiotics allows you to have more control over certain strains of bacteria. This is great if you are trying to target a certain issue.
In addition, supplements are specifically formulated that can help you avoid certain added sugars that can be found in natural probiotic foods like yogurt and kombucha.
While there are some benefits to choosing a supplement, you should be aware of the cons.
Uncertain Amount Of Probiotics
Research is growing on what makes a great probiotic supplement. The FDA regulates probiotic foods, but NOT necessarily supplements. Manufacturers of probiotic supplements do not have to publish their research to ensure that they have the right probiotic ingredients in their products.
One recent study showed that several probiotic brands sold in the U.S. Consumer Labs did not contain the number of live microorganisms stated on their label, meaning there’s no guarantee that you’ll be consuming the right nutrients.
Probiotic supplements can cause a negative reaction for some individuals. Mild side effects may include an upset stomach, bloating discomfort, gas, diarrhea. It’s essential for you to read the full ingredient list to make sure you won’t trigger any allergic reactions.
Although the decision is completely voluntary, the important thing is that you are getting probiotics every day. By consuming a variety of natural probiotic-filled foods, you can aid more digestion processes than a supplement. Or by choosing to use a supplement, you can target certain health concerns. However, you should research your supplement provider to make sure the right beneficial bacteria are included.
An option could be to use both natural probiotic-filled foods and supplements. Here at Cleveland Kitchen we make it easy (and tasty) to get your fill of probiotics! With just a couple forkfuls of kraut a day, you can reap the benefits of probiotics.