Probiotics are highly beneficial for immune health
There is a belief that probiotics are only beneficial of digestive health but the benefits of probiotics in your gut go beyond just healthy bowel movements. A healthy digestive system has been linked to improvements in mental health and immune response. (1)
Probiotics act as microbial food supplements that are beneficial to the host by improving the intestinal microbial balance. Studies indicate that probiotic supplements can modify the gut microflora and provide a practical means of enhancing gut and systemic immune function. (2)
Any sort of autoimmune disease almost always starts with dysfunction in your immune system, and 80 percent of our immune tissue is in the digestive tract. Once you have inflammation, you are at risk of developing a condition known as “metabolic endotoxemia.” Over time, chronic inflammation and metabolic endotoxemia in your intestinal lining can lead to permeability — the ability of larger toxins and particles to cross over that lining and enter your bloodstream. It’s like a window screen that has holes in it. This condition is referred to as “leaky gut.” (3)
Your intestinal lining becomes inflamed for a variety of reasons like eating foods that trigger your allergies, high-fat, high-calorie foods, foods that are genetically modified, and/or contain hormones and pesticides, eating high amounts of processed foods and simple carbohydrates, such as sugar and having an imbalance of bacteria in your gut with an overgrowth of “bad” bacteria and/or a deficiency of “good” bacteria, known as dysbiosis, or small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), which can be a side effect of overuse or chronic use of antibiotic drugs. (3)
It is common belief that people with autoimmune diseases need to take probiotics for leaky gut and immune protection. Many experts recommend that people with autoimmune diseases need to eat probiotic-rich fermented foods or take typical probiotic supplements (like acidophilus and bifidobacterium). (3)
Probiotics are the beneficial bacteria that live in your gut. You have about 100 trillion of them in your intestinal tract, they weigh about 2 or 3 pounds. For you to remain optimally healthy, about 85% of the bacteria in your gut should be composed of friendly fellows such as Lactobacillus or Bifidobacteria. The remaining 15% are generally made up of non-beneficial bacteria, but their minority status helps keeps them in check. To balance both your digestive and immune health, avoid processed foods and sugar as much as possible, add more fibre to your diet, reduce stress, drink more water and add a high-quality probiotic supplement to your diet. (4)
Numerous research studies in the past decade alone have found probiotics to be extremely beneficial to your health. In addition to good bacteria helping with obesity and depression, these studies have found strong links with good gut bacteria and your body’s ability to strengthen your immune system; a powerful immune system is your key defender against diseases, reduce inflammation, boost absorption of critical vitamins and supplements, reduce bad cholesterol’s entry in the bloodstream, fight aging and help with many other conditions.(4)
Below is a list of the best probiotic foods for you to add to your diet noting to buy the organic version of all these probiotic-rich foods: (5)
- Kefir: A unique combination of goat’s milk and fermented kefir grains high in Lactobacillus and Bifidus bacteria, kefir is also rich in antioxidants.
- Sauerkraut: Made from fermented cabbage, extremely rich in healthy live cultures, vitamins A, B, C, and K.
- Dark Chocolate: Very effective carrier for probiotics
- Blue-green algae: Refers to superfood such as Spirulina and Chlorella. While not probiotics, blue-green algae can act as a prebiotic, which means that they feed and nourish the probiotics already in your gut.
- Miso Soup: Made from fermented rye, beans, rice or barley, adding a tablespoon of miso to some hot water makes an excellent, quick, probiotic-rich soup full of Lactobacillus and Bifidus bacteria.
- Pickles: Pack a punch of prime probiotics. Most vegetables can be pickled. All of them boast the same briny goodness and probiotic potential.
- Tempeh: A great substitute for meat or tofu, tempeh is a fermented, probiotic-rich grain usually made from soybeans, but it can be made with chickpeas or other beans. A great source of vitamin B12, this vegetarian food can be sauteed, baked or eaten crumbled on salads. If prepared correctly, tempeh is also very low in salt, which makes it an ideal choice for those on a low-sodium diet.
- Kimchee: An Asian form of pickled sauerkraut, kimchee is an extremely spicy and sour fermented cabbage. Besides beneficial bacteria, kimchee is also a great source of vitamin C, B vitamins, beta-carotene, calcium, iron, potassium, and dietary fiber.
- Kombucha Tea: Kombucha is a form of fermented tea that contains a high amount of healthy gut bacteria. This probiotic drink has been used for centuries and is believed to help increase your energy, enhance your well-being and maybe even help you lose weight, especially if made with green tea.
Taking your probiotics through food is best but sometimes supplements can be taken. In this case, it is advised that you choose a probiotic that contains verified strains of bacteria because many products do not actually contain the number of bacteria advertised so look for “DNA-verified” on a product’s label or website. (3)
- What’s the Connection Between Probiotics and Digestive Health? (2018) https://www.healthline.com/health/probiotics-and-digestive-health
- Impact of the Gut Microbiota on Intestinal Immunity Mediated by Tryptophan Metabolism (2018) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5808205/
- The Thyroid and Immune Benefits of Probiotics (2017) https://www.healthcentral.com/article/thyroid-and-benefits-of-probiotics
- Your Body’s Primary Defense Center Resides in Your . . . Bowels? (2020) https://w3.medixselect.com/MedixTV/LP/Bactipro
- Top 10 Probiotic Foods (2016) https://globalhealing.com/natural-health/probiotic-foods/