Keep your digestive system healthy with probiotics

Probiotics has become something of a buzz word as we all strive to ensure our diets are packed with the healthiest foods and products. But do you know the benefits probiotics bring to our general health and wellbeing?

Good bacteria

While we usually associate bacteria as being bad for us, probiotics are often described as ‘good bacteria’ which are known to provide certain health benefits. The average healthy bowel is already inhabited by an estimated one trillion microorganisms representing more than 500 different species of bacteria.

A tip-top digestive system is the key to feeling healthy from the inside out and adding probiotics to our everyday diet could make it easier for the body to break down and absorb food.

Lactic acid, found in foods such as yoghurt and cheese, is perhaps one of the best known probiotics. It has qualities which help boost the body’s immune system. Bifidobacteria is another type of probiotic found in almost all dairy products. This probiotic could help with lactose intolerance and conditions such as diarrhoea, high cholesterol and improve the immune system.

Scientists have found probiotics could help with specific conditions such as Crohn’s Disease and yeast infections as well. They have also been associated with helping prevent the onset of eczema in children and have been linked to reducing the severity of a common cold or flu.

Ten great sources of probiotics

There is a wealth of foodstuffs which are packed with probiotics stocked on supermarket shelves which makes it easy to incorporate probiotic-rich products into your weekly grocery shop, without breaking the bank.

1. Brands of cottage cheese, which contain certain live and active cultures, are a good source of probiotics. Cottage cheese is also low in carbohydrates and sugar, yet high in protein, which makes it a great snack.

2. Sauerkraut is packed with beneficial probiotics, as well as vitamins B and B12 which have a number of health benefits themselves, including supporting our metabolism and contributing to healthy skin and hair.

3. Some cheeses, particularly blue cheese and feta, are good sources of probiotics

4. The probiotics in yoghurt have been found to aid the digestive process. Yoghurt is also a good source of calcium.

5. Similar to yoghurt, kefir is particularly beneficial for people who are lactose intolerant

6. Buttermilk, which is made by adding cultured bacteria to low-fat or fat-free milk, also helps the digestive process

7. Research has shown red wine contains probiotics and could help alleviate colitis symptoms. However, be sure to consume it in moderation.

8. The probiotics in tofu could help with a range of health conditions including lowering cholesterol, enhancing bowel function, boosting our immune system and relieving anxiety

9. Miso, a culinary staple of the Japanese diet, contains probiotics which could help reduce cholesterol levels in the body

10. Pickled ginger has similar probiotic qualities to sauerkraut as well.