Probiotics are live bacteria that are naturally found in our bodies and are GOOD bacteria that help our digestion and keep our guts healthy. Probiotics help move food through our bodies and have helped with conditions like IBS, diarrhea caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites, diarrhea caused from antibiotics, skin conditions like eczema, urinary health, oral health, and preventing allergies and colds.
Why Do We Need Probiotics?
We need probiotics for all the above reasons, but we also need them after we've been sick and taking an antibiotic. Antibiotics fight bacterial infections by killing off all the bacteria in our bodies, including the good bacteria. Its fine when we're sick and want to feel better, but always make sure you are getting them specifically for a bacterial infection. Once I felt like I was getting strep throat and after a negative strep test at urgent care I was still given antibiotics. One day into the dosage I felt incredibly sick to my stomach and bloated. It turned out that the antibiotics were only killing off the good, natural probiotics I had in my body. Once I stopped taking the antibiotics and upped my natural intake of probiotics I felt better.
How To Get Probiotics Naturally
Probiotics come in many forms, some of the most popular being supplements and yogurt or kefir. Since going plant based I've stopped eating yogurt and kefir, and I didn't want to take supplements, so I wondered how I was going to get probiotics naturally. Well, it turns out there are lots of foods that have probiotics, but even better, eating a plant based diet full of fibrous foods helps to keep my gut healthy without the need of a ton of extra probiotics.
Here's a great, short video from Dr. Michael Greger and NutritionFacts.org that explains how this works:
Foods with Natural Probiotics
Kimchi - a traditional Korean food made of fermented cabbage, daikon radishes, garlic, ginger, and chili powder. This is definitely on my list to make a recipe for you so keep an eye out for it soon!
Miso - miso is made from fermented soybeans and is incredibly delicious in a variety of soups and as a base in lots of asian style recipes. Check out some of mine here:
Sauerkraut (Unpasteurized) - the key is that this sauerkraut is unpasteurized as the pasteurized kind can kill out all the good bacteria. Its super simple to make a quick sauerkraut recipe yourself from cabbage. Check out the process here.
Sour Pickles - you don't want the vinegar brined kind, vinegar slows the fermentation process (which is key to probiotics); you want the kind that is brined in sea salt and water. I love pickles. I love, love, LOVE pickles. I think I probably get my necessary probiotic intake daily just on the amount of pickles I can consume in one sitting. Check out an easy recipe here.
Kombucha - I have yet to try kombucha because, honestly, it doesn't sound very good. Kombucha is a fermented drink made from tea, sugar, bacteria and yeast. You can find it almost anywhere now in grocery stores, so let me know how it is if you've had some!
Tempeh - Tempeh is also made from fermented soybeans and is a great meat replacement. You can find it in tons of grocery stores near the tofu.
So instead of taking that pill, think about what foods you can incorporate into your diet to naturally get probiotics. It will taste better in the end and be better for you.