The Benefits of Probiotics

Typically, when most people think about probiotics, they think of yogurt and gut health – and they’d be right. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines probiotic as “…a usually dairy food or a dietary supplement containing live bacteria that replace or add to the beneficial bacteria normally present in the gastrointestinal tract.”

Over the last few years, the curiosity surrounding – and subsequent study of – gut health, probiotics, and what a healthy (or an unhealthy) gut means for the rest of the body has increased significantly. Earlier this month, researchers at The University of Virginia published their findings from an extensive study on the gut microbiome and the effect that probiotics have on moods. They found that consuming typical strains of probiotics found in yogurt, such as Lactobacillus, after being exposed to stressors reversed signs of depression in mice. Probiotics can also, according to Harvard Health, “…improve immune function, protect against hostile bacteria to prevent infection, and improve the digestion and absorption of food and nutrients.”

As the list of benefits that probiotics can have on the body continues to grow, we asked some of the Nutritionists and Personal Trainers at acac to give a few tips on how to incorporate gut healthy foods our diets:

Yogurt

Common live & active cultures found yogurt include Lactobacillus, L. Acidophilus, Bifidus, S. Thermophillus, L. Bulcaricus, and more. The type of active cultures doesn’t matter so much as do the number of strains that are included – the more the better!  Watch out for yogurt that is high in sugar content. Some varieties, especially regular yogurt, can have as much as 26g of sugar per serving! One of our nutritionists recommends choosing Greek yogurt, which is typically has around 12g of sugar and plain varieties, like Fage Plain, can be as low as six grams. Add it to a smoothie, substitute it for sour cream, or enjoy it with some berries & granola on top for breakfast!

Fermented foods

Miso, Tempeh, and Kimchi – oh my! Fermented foods are wonderful sources of probiotics. These choices are full of good bacteria that work to keep your gut happy! Click here for some recipe ideas.

Kefir & Kombucha

Kefir is similar to yogurt – fermented milk – but is a drinkable consistency. It’s full of probiotics and calcium. Kombucha is fermented tea. Its yeast content makes it a probiotic-rich choice. Kombucha and kefir are now commonly found in supermarkets nationwide.

Don’t forget about prebiotics

Prebiotics are a type of fiber that helps feed the probiotics (good bacteria) in your gut. Garlic, leeks, artichokes, onions, bananas, and other fiber-rich foods are great sources of prebiotics!

Read more about the benefits of probiotics from Harvard Health.

You can also receive personalized nutrition guidance at your club! Select the club nearest you for more information:

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