What Exactly Are Probiotics?

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Are you curious about probiotics? What are they? Why do we need them? Are you sick of being sick? Tired of your kids bringing home a new cold or bug constantly from school or daycare? Here’s the scoop!

What are probiotics?

I could go way into detail about microbiology and digestive function…but I’ll spare you all the scientific mumbo-jumbo and give you this simple explanation:

Probiotics are wonderful little bacteria that can actually improve your health. They are most widely known for promoting a healthy digestive tract and a healthy immune system. They are also commonly known as friendly, good, or healthy bacteria.
Our bodies are FULL of bacteria. I know. Seems gross to think about. Some of that bacteria is considered good, and some is considered bad. Probiotics can help balance your “good” and “bad” bacteria to keep your body working the way it should. They help replace the good bacteria your body is lacking. For example, after you take a round of antibiotics, your body is lacking “good bacteria” that keeps your digestive system healthy and functioning well. This is why taking antibiotics can often be accompanied by digestive upset.

 

 

Why should kids be getting probiotics?

If you have kids in daycare or school, you know the pain of how often they get sick. And in turn, how often you and the rest of your family gets sick. Increasing probiotic intake can really help reduce the occurrence of all those nasty little bugs. Basically, the bacteria living in your intestines are largely responsible for your overall health. In order to stay healthy, you need to keep those bacteria strong.

 

Ways to incorporate probiotics into your life:

Yogurt – This is the most well known way to get your probiotics. Easy to find and easy to enjoy. However, not all yogurt contains live probiotics so be sure to read your labels. My favorite is Vanilla Activia.

Kefir – Is a fermented probiotic milky, yogurty type drink. You can usually find it in the dairy section of your grocery store, with the yogurt. I like to add this to my daughter’s milk. I find the plain stuff can be a little bitter so I buy the strawberry flavor to make it a little more palatable for her. She LOVES it! 

Buttermilk – Live cultures are added to ferment the milk sugars. This is an easy to find source of probiotics, available at any grocery store.

• Tempeh – A fermented soybean product. It’s similar to tofu but less processed and contains more protein and fiber. It needs to be refrigerated so if your grocery store has it it’s likely with the tofu. Otherwise it’s usually available at health food stores.

Sauerkraut – Finely chopped cabbage that has been fermented in a brine, allowing the “good” bacteria to form. Traditionally eaten as a side dish or on hot dogs.

Kimchi – a traditional fermented Korean dish – most often found in the refrigerated produce section, dairy or deli sections of most major grocery chains and specialty food stores. If you’d like to make your own, check out this article on Simple Kimchi for Beginners.

Kombucha – Known as the immortal health elixir by the Chinese. You can buy it or make it yourself. For more info and a great recipe, click HERE.

Pickles – Yum! Pickles are a favourite source of probiotics. However it’s important to know that pickles fermented in vinegar DO NOT contain probiotics. Pickles need to be prepared using the lacto-fermentation process. Here’s a tutorial/recipe to further explain that process. At the grocery store, look for pickles in the refrigerated section. Check the label for “live and active cultures”.

• Probiotic Drops – These are ideal for babies who aren’t yet eating solids. They are also known for helping with colic, gas, and other tummy troubles. BioGaia is a well known and well loved option.• Probiotic Gummies – These are ideal for older kids who might not be too keen about eating the foods listed above. Who doesn’t love a gummy “candy”? These gummies by RenewLife are great for both kids and adults. 

Further Benefits of Probiotics:

Boosts Immune System
Improves Digestion
Improves Gut Health after Antibiotics
Prevents and Treats UTI’s
Improves Acne
Fights Depression/Anxiety
Helps with IBS & Colitis
Manages Eczema in Children
Reduces Cold/Flu Symptoms
Eases Stomach Aches and Issues
Promotes Healthy Cholesteral
Melts Excess Belly Fat
Improves Blood Pressure

With so many benefits and easy options available to us, what have you got to lose? Try adding probiotics to your diet today to experience the positive effects for yourself. 

 

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