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What Are Probiotics And Why Do You Need Them?

Posted by Meghan Wilson on
What Are Probiotics And Why Do You Need Them?

Probiotic health is increasing in popularity within the wellness community, and you may be surprised by how important it is to understand your gut and how bacteria can benefit you. 

We hear a lot about probiotics, but what are probiotics and what are they good for? Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for you (especially your digestive system). Usually, we think of bacteria as germs that cause disease, but your body is full of bacteria, both good and bad. Probiotics are often called "good" or "helpful" bacteria because they help keep your gut healthy and your digestion running smoothly. You can find probiotics naturally in fermented foods or supplements. 

How Probiotics Improve your Gut Health 

Probiotics are a direct factor in increasing your gut health. But why should we care about gut health? The gut microbiome has “good” bacteria that keep disease and “bad” bacteria in check. When you hear the term “gut microbiome” it refers to the microorganisms that live in your intestines. An average person has around a trillion different types of bacteria that live in your digestive system. While this seems like a lot, the microorganisms are essential to maintaining a healthy body! 

Gut- Immune System Connection 

Probiotics also have a connection to your immune system- it can actually strengthen it! In addition, they boost gastrointestinal health, especially if you have something like irritable bowel syndrome. Some probiotics also may help ease allergy symptoms and help with lactose intolerance. But because each of our gut microbiomes are unique, if and how the probiotics work can be different for everyone. There are different types of probiotics that have different effects on your body. 

What’s Special about Fermented Foods? 

Fermented foods are a fantastic superfood and a great way to naturally get probiotics that fuel your gut and immune system! Fermented foods contain a variety of good bacteria, and these bacteria fight off infections, regulate organ health, help turn food to energy and decrease inflammation. A simple action of adding some fermented foods into your diet (like Cleveland Kitchen’s sauerkraut or dressings) is an easy way to help your body from the inside out!  Here is a list of the most common probiotics found in fermented foods:    

  • Bifidobacterium bifidum
  • Bifidobacterium lactis
  • Bifidobacterium longum
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus
  • Lactobacillus casei and L. rhamnosus
  • Lactobacillus reuteri
  • Lactobacillus salivarius. L. salivarius 
  • Streptococcus thermophilus

Don’t let these confusing names distract you from their importance--they each perform valuable digestive functions.

Signs of an Unhealthy Gut 

The world we live in has many stressors that can do your body more harm- such as high-stress jobs, too little sleep, eating processed and high-sugar foods, and taking antibiotics can all damage our gut microbiome. There are a number of ways an unhealthy gut might occur. Here are some of the most common signs, but be sure to consult your doctor as well. 

  • Upset stomach- Stomach disturbances like gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and heartburn can all be signs of an unhealthy gut. A balanced gut will have less difficulty processing food and eliminating waste.
  • Unintentional weight changes- A diet high in processed foods and added sugars can decrease the number of good bacteria in your gut. This imbalance can cause increased sugar cravings, which can damage your gut still further. Be wary of refined sugars and high-fructose corn syrup. 
  • Sleep disturbances or constant fatigue- An unhealthy gut may contribute to sleep disturbances such as insomnia or poor sleep. The majority of the body’s serotonin, a hormone that affects mood and sleep, is produced in the gut. So gut damage can impair your ability to sleep well. 
  • Skin irritation- Skin conditions like eczema may be related to a damaged gut. Inflammation in the gut caused by a poor diet or food allergies may cause increased “leaking” of certain proteins out into the body, which can in turn irritate the skin and contribute to  conditions such as eczema.
  • Autoimmune conditions- Medical researchers are continually finding new evidence of the impact of the gut on the immune system. It’s thought that an unhealthy gut may increase systemic inflammation and alter the proper functioning of the immune system. This may  trigger autoimmune diseases, where the body attacks itself rather than harmful bacteria.
  • Food intolerances- Food intolerances are the result of difficulty digesting certain foods (different than a food allergy). It’s thought that food intolerances may sometimes be caused by the poor quality of bacteria in the gut. This can lead to difficulty digesting foods and unpleasant symptoms such as bloating, gas, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and nausea. 

How to Incorporate Fermented Foods in your Diet

Now you know the many benefits of incorporating probiotics into your diet, as well as that fermented foods are a superfood. But incorporating fermented foods into your lifestyle may be a new idea for you or you may be unsure of the taste. Rest assured that Cleveland Kitchen focuses on a culinary-first approach - all our innovative flavors of sauerkraut are chef-tested, tasty and satisfying. Our kraut is unpasteurized and lacto-fermented, full of natural probiotics, nutrients and flavor. You don’t need to sacrifice taste for health. In fact, Cleveland Kitchen has the world’s first line of fermented dressings & marinades. With a base of fermented vegetables, these plant-based dressings have less oil and sugar than traditional dressings and pack in all the flavor and gut-healthy benefits you love. 

You can add our kraut to your next salad or sandwich for a quick lunch! Here’s one of our favorite recipes to add some flavor to your next meal. 

Give this Grilled Turkey and Sauerkraut Sandwich a try!

Prep Time: 2 minutes 

Cooking Time: 8 min

1 Servings

Ingredients

  • 2 pieces Sprouted whole-grain bread
  • 2-ounce turkey breast
  • 1 slice Swiss cheese
  • 2 tbsp Classic Caraway Sauerkraut
  • 1 handful Spinach
  • 1 tbsp Olive oil
  • 1/ sprinkle of Italian Seasoning

Instructions

  • Drizzle olive oil over the outer side of the two slices of bread.
  • Place swiss cheese, spinach, sauerkraut, and turkey between the slices of bread.
  • Sprinkle with Italian seasoning and start grilling.
  • Put the grill pan on medium heat and grill for about 4 minutes on each side.

Sources: 

https://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/what-are-probiotics#1

https://www.healthline.com/health/gut-health#signs-and-symptoms

https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/serotonin

https://www.healthline.com/health/eczema#causes

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3448089/

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/common-food-intolerances

https://www.healthline.com/health/autoimmune-disorders

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4006993/

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/can-gut-bacteria-improve-your-health#:~:text=About%20100%20trillion%20bacteria%2C%20both,known%20as%20the%20gut%20microbiota







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