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Published on March 01, 2013

Probiotic Foods and Why You Should Eat Them

It’s strange – and maybe a little bit oogy – to think that live bacteria exist in a variety of foods we’re encouraged to eat; who wants to think about microscopic thingies crawling around their innards? However, the truth of the matter is that some bacteria can actually be really beneficial to your health – we call them probiotic foods.

For one, probiotics can do wonders for your digestive tract, which constantly needs a balanced blend of good and bad bacteria. Together, they enable your digestive system to filter out toxins, chemicals, and other waste products while also absorbing important nutrients from food and water. However, unhealthy food, poor sleep, and stress can all cause the balance to shift, resulting in problems like diarrhea, muscle pain, and urinary tract infections.

 

Probiotic foods can also improve our immune system, as the live bacteria helps protect the body against harmful germs. Otherwise you can susceptible to allergic reactions, infections, and autoimmune disorders like Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis

To keep your digestive tract and immune system working at its best, try incorporating some of the top-probiotic foods into your daily diet: 

  1. Yogurt: The number one and most common source of good probiotics, yogurt helps maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in the stomach. In some studies, beneficial bacteria has been found to reduce lactose intolerance, as well as relieve other digestive problems such as gas and diarrhea. To make sure you’re buying the best kind of yogurt for a healthy body, look for labels that say “live and active cultures.” Kefir is also a good option. 
  2. Sauerkraut: Another food that aids digestion, sauerkraut also contains vitamins that can help fight infections. Be sure to purchase the unpasteurized kind, since pasteurization kills off the good bacteria. 
  3. Miso Soup: This Japanese soup contains more than 160 strains of bacteria that can keep digestion working at optimum performance. It’s also low in calories, high in B vitamins, and contains protective antioxidants. 
  4. Soft Cheese: The only downside to eating probiotic foods is that not all of the good bacteria makes it through the digestive system. Cheese may have a bad stigma in the healthy foods category, but soft cheese is filled with probiotics and has a way of surviving your gastrointestinal tract. 
  5. Sourdough Bread: The next time you’re building a sandwich, use a couple of slices of sourdough bread, which is filled with probiotics. 
  6. Sour Pickles: Yes, you read that correctly; you can also reap health benefits from sour pickles. Good bacteria only grows when the pickles have been fermented in sea salt and water – not vinegar—so be sure to read the labels before you buy them at your local grocery store. 

Finally, if none of these foods appears to you at all, or you’re not sure how often you’ll actually eat these foods, you can always take probiotic vitamins to maintain a healthy lifestyle every day.   

Crozer-Keystone offers a range of board-certified physicians who are trained in the latest technologies and procedures to comprehensively diagnose, manage and treat gastrointestinal and liver conditions. For more information or to make an appointment, visit http://gi.crozerkeystone.org or call 1-877-CKHS-GI1 (254-7441).

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