In June this year, the National University of Singapore created a special beer that is friendly to the gut. This is a beverage that is laced with probiotic, promising a boost to the gut health and overall immunity of the body, and the team have filed a patent to protect the recipe. Meanwhile, another school, the McMaster University, Canada, published the first study to ever present the results that probiotic consumption reduced depression. Participants with an existing condition of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) indicated a reduction from depression symptoms when they consumed a specific probiotic, as compared to IBS participants who were assigned a placebo.
Nonetheless, besides improving the gut health or reducing depression symptoms, the probiotic holds many benefits.
To start, a probiotic is defined as a food/supplement that contains friendly microorganisms, namely bacteria, that is beneficial for our health, especially to the digestive system.
Do you know that our body is full of bacteria since day 1 we were born? Yes, we have many bacteria in our body, both good and bad. We have them on our skin, scalp, feet and so on. Nearly 400 trillion of them happily live in our gut.
However our gut is an evolving piece of biosystem, and we may inadvertently introduce many harmful bacteria to it via the food we eat. In this day, our food is completely different from those of our ancestors, with preservatives and what-not added in. This affects our digestive ability, and that’s where probiotics can come in.
Another reason why a person may need probiotics is that it helps to “train” the immune system to differentiate between the bacteria which originated from the body, and those which are foreign and potentially harmful. And of course if you look through the research studies, probiotics also work to help maintain a healthy weight and good skin condition.
It most certainly does not mean that you should only consider probiotics only when you are not feeling well or prone to sickness. Probiotics improve nutrient absorption, reduce inflammation and also balance our blood sugar, so it is perfectly fine to take them even when you may think you don’t need them.
Here are some foods which are good sources of probiotics:
Yogurt – One of the best sources. Generally, yogurt is made from milk fermented with friendly bacteria. Experts recommend that you look for those from cows, goats or sheep. It would be best if the animal is grass-fed and that the product is organic.
Pickles – Cucumbers pickled in water and salt and left to ferment for some time. Those in vinegar does not contain probiotics.
Cheese – Raw cheese are particularly high in probiotics, especially those from cows, goats and sheep again. They should not be pasteurized.
Consuming probiotics does not mean that you can cure any digestive issues. Always seek professional help if there is a need. At the end of the day, the golden advice: Take everything in moderation.
To good health!
(ANSWER: True! The miso, tempeh and kimchi are good sources of probiotics!)