Stress, processed foods, sugar, just one round of antibiotics and over the counter meds like NSAIDs and PPIs can all damage the beneficial bacteria in our guts that is oh so crucial.
It’s neccessary to have a balance of good “friendly” and bad bacteria in your gut.
When the bad bacteria is in power, that can lead to a weak immune system and chronic infections, developing food sensitives and intolerances, and digestive issues from acute to major imbalances like candida and SIBO (small intestine bacteria overgrowth).
Take it from me, someone whose gone through much of that after taking Prilosec- an over the counter PPI prescribed to me by a doctor when I was 23, and a lot of sugar and artificial sugars and stress throughout much of my 20’s! It’s taken me quite some time to build back my gut health, and to be honest I’m still working through it and continue to make it a huge priority.
The gut is responsible for so much of our overall health- everything from immunity, skin health, digestion of course, the ability to absorb nutrients from our food, and mood can be traced back to what’s going on in your gut!
After all the gut is thought of as the “second brain!”
In fact, it’s estimated that a whopping 90 percent of serotonin (the neurotransmitter & hormone that controls mood, pain perception and the sleep-wake cycle) is made in our gut! (1)
I’ve personally struggled with depression, and can see the strong connection between my weak gut health at the time and my mood. This is why I’m so passionate about probiotics and continue to stress the overall importance of gut health to my clients.
Probiotics are the healthy bacteria in our guts, and we need to make sure we’re getting enough of them- either through a daily supplement or by a food source.
But what are the food sources and how can you work them into your diet…
Sauerkraut- fermented cabbage that contains a wide variety of friendly bacteria is a great source of probiotics. Not only this, but fermented foods also stimulate the growth of probiotics! (4)
You can buy it or make your own, it’s quite simple and saves money- check out this recipe!
For purchasing it in the store it’s a must that you buy it in the refrigerated section, the stuff on the shelves that’s famous for topping hot dogs just isn’t equivalent and lacks all the health benefits and nutrition. You also want a brand that is “unpasteurized". I find the brands that look the most “crunchy/hippie” are the best!
There are also tons of varieties these days like fermented beets, carrots and other veggies. The more variety the better!
Kimchi- a Korean fermented cabbage and/or any assortment of veggies that comes with a kick is another great option and carries all the same health benefits of sauerkraut. Again, make sure to check out the cleanest source in the refrigerated section of the grocery store!
Add fermented veggies to salads, eggs, or eat a forkful as a snack. A little goes a long way- get them in when you can!
Kombucha- a fermented tea (usually green or black) rich in probiotics and “known as the “Immortal Health Elixir” by the Chinese and originating in the Far East around 2,000 years ago, kombucha is a beverage with tremendous health benefits.” (5)
Kombucha is by far my favorite source of probiotics! It tastes delicious and for me is a treat I very much look forward to! Kombucha has tons of health benefits and can be beneficial for: improved digestion, weight loss, increased energy, cleansing and detoxification, immune support, reduced joint pain and even cancer reduction. (5).
You can make it yourself or buy it at the store- again in the refrigerated section. I highly recommend reading the ingredient labels and avoiding brands with added sugar (usually seen as cane sugar or cane juice concentrate) on the label.
Due to the fermentation process, kombucha naturally contains a few grams of sugar (and is made with sugar but most is then consumed by the bacteria) but stay away from any added sugar, it’s plenty sweet and delicious on it’s own! My favorite brand is “GTs” in the original or gingerade flavor and I drink about 1-2 bottles a week.
So tell me, what are you favorite ways to get probiotics in your diet? I’d love if you shared below!