Probiotics 101: What Are They and How Do They Benefit Me?

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My kombucha habit is close to out of control, but for good reason: It’s filled with probiotics.

Probi… what?!

What are Probiotics?

Probiotics are healthy bacteria, and like kombucha (a fermented tea), your body is filled with them. In fact, your digestive system is swarming with probiotics – about 500 types! These “good” bacteria help reduce the growth of unhealthy and harmful bacteria and keep a healthy balance in your gut.

What Foods Contain Probiotics?

So, where can you find probiotics? They’re actually in foods you likely already eat! The most familiar is yogurt – look for “live and active cultures” on the packaging and stick to kinds without added sugar – but probiotics are also found in:

  • Fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi
  • Fermented drinks like kombucha
  • Miso soup
  • Kefir, which is a cross between yogurt and milk
  • Tempeh, a traditional soy product from Indonesia
  • Some cheeses, including cheddar, Gouda, Swiss and Parmesan

Probiotics can also be found in supplements; however, consult a registered dietitian or your doctor before taking any, as supplements are not regulated like foods are.

See more: Stop Stomach Bloating With Our 3-Day Meal Plan

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Benefits of Probiotics

The “good” bacteria found in probiotics have a plethora of health benefits. One, they help keep a healthy balance in your gut. During a recent sinus infection and subsequent antibiotics to treat it, for example, I drank a bottle of kombucha every day to help balance out that bad bacteria. Probiotics can also help keep your immune system happy and strong. “Introducing friendly bacteria in the form of probiotics is believed to challenge the immune system in healthy ways,” according to WebMD.

Probiotics also help with:

  • Gas
  • Diarrhea
  • Cramping
  • Digestive issues
  • Replenishing good bacteria

So, go ahead and give foods with probiotics a try! I know I’m gonna keep drinking my kombucha.

What questions do you have about probiotics?

Ask in the comments below!

Photo credit: Kate Raynes-Goldie

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Erin Klegstad is passionate about health, wellness and fitness, and spends her free time chasing iron{wo}man finish lines. Next up: Ironman Wisconsin 2014. She believes bike rides make every day better and that kindness can change the world. Find her on her yoga mat or drinking espresso when she’s not swimbikerunning. Erin is also the public relations manager at Anytime Fitness.

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