26 Sep 13 Surprising and Beneficial Probiotic Foods
Probiotics are the latest health obsession thanks to their seemingly endless list of health benefits. But the hype may be warranted: these friendly bacteria are the real deal. Various probiotic strains have been shown to support the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, prevent inflammation, boost immunity and alleviate conditions ranging from allergies to diarrhea, although more research needs to be done to sort out specific strains, outcomes and dosages. “Conventionally, when people hear about probiotics, they typically think of yogurt or supplements,” says Dr. B.J. Hardick, founder of the Centre for Maximized Living in London, Ontario. “Most people are unfortunately unaware of several other incredible — and typically better — sources of healthy gut bacteria.” Among those sources is a wide array of cultured and fermented foods. On the next slides, we’ll describe the benefits of 13 probiotic foods – some may surprise you!
1. Green Peas
Green peas are one of the newer probiotic discoveries to come to light. In December 2013, Japanese researchers published a preliminary study in the Journal of Applied Microbiology revealing that green peas contain Leuconostoc mesenteroides, a strain of probiotic bacteria with high IgA-inducing ability in animals. What does that mean? The good bacteria inside green peas may raise the level of IgA antibodies in your immune system. These types of antibodies are often found in the lining of your airway and digestive tracts and can help “enhance mucosal barrier function,” according to the study. Translation: green peas may be able to help fight off infections and colds thanks to their inherent probiotic bacteria. Tip: Heat can be detrimental to probiotics so add raw peas to your salad or eat as a snack.
2. Dark Chocolate
Chocolate lovers take heed: the dark variety could be your new probiotic best friend. Using low processing temperatures to keep them intact, manufacturers are able to add probiotics to dark chocolate at up to four times the amount found in other forms of dairy. The resulting chocolate is rich in both quantity and quality of probiotics. A 2010 study published in the International Journal of Food Microbiology found that probiotics in dark chocolate survived the passage through the stomach and small intestine better than those added to liquid milk (91 to 80 percent versus 20 to 31 percent). The verdict? Sold. Who doesn’t need another reason to love chocolate?
Wondering how to start your day the right probiotic way? Consider natto, a traditional Japanese breakfast food often served with rice. Made from soybeans fermented with probiotic Bacillus subtilis natto, this superfood is an excellent source of good bacteria. It’s also “rich in the protein and vitamin K necessary for strong bones,” says Lori Shemek, Ph.D., certified nutritional consultant. A preliminary 2009 study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry showed promising results that the enzyme nattokinase (produced during the fermentation process) may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. However, you might want to prepare your taste buds, cautions Shemek, as “[natto] has a strong flavor and therefore has an acquired taste” — not to mention an extremely pungent smell.
Thanks to its high levels of lactobacilli and bifidus bacteria, kefir may help alleviate digestive troubles by reducing the growth of “bad” bacteria and aiding in digestion. The result? A healthier gut. Kefir also helps support your immune system and is a good source of protein as well as calcium and potassium, two nutrients Americans are lacking in their diet. Though widely consumed as a fermented milk drink, you can also find products with kefir used in ice cream, cheese, popsicles, oatmeal and even veggie-based drinks.
To read full article, visit LiveStrong.com.