You’ve likely heard that bacteria, especially in your stomach, can be associated with positive health benefits. That’s right. Bacteria isn’t just a bad thing -- there is “good bacteria,” too.
Probiotics are microorganisms (including yeast) that are thought to improve your health and can be found in different foods, including fermented foods.
The good with the bad
The human digestive system contains good and bad bacteria. In digestive terms, you want to create a balance for optimal health.
Probiotics are similar to the organisms that occur naturally in the human digestive tract. Adding probiotics to our diet and tummies (often referred to as our “gut” in research) is thought to have numerous benefits, including improved intestinal function and help maintaining a strong immune system.
Research is still being conducted on the proven benefits of probiotics, but some say they can help:
Fermented food fest
There are several types of probiotics that can be found in different foods, with different health benefits. You might be most familiar with yogurt (many yogurt products with probiotics include Lactobacillus acidophilus or Bifidobacterium in the ingredients).
Other fermented foods, which are becoming more and more popular, can also contain probiotics, or active bacterial cultures. These foods have high nutritional value and may be a welcome addition to a healthy diet. Check out some of the following types of fermented foods:
Probiotics also come as supplements, but you should check with your health care provider before deciding whether to take supplements or to make a change in your diet. People with compromised or damaged immune systems should avoid using probiotics or speak to their health care providers about it.
If you’d like to add fermented foods to your meals as part of a healthy diet, consider the following recipe.
Miso-marinated grilled tilapia
This dish is simple to put together, but is tasty and nutritious. Serve with steamed or grilled vegetables and a side of brown rice for a complete meal.
For more information on probiotics, refer to the National Institutes of Health and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
More on probiotics
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