The health benefits of probiotics (and why I love yoghurt so).

By Amy Crawford

Recently, we wrote an article for my favourite yoghurt brand five:am Organic Yoghurt and we've decided to share it with you today, to help demonstrate why I love this creamy deliciousness so very much and why I believe it (and it's probiotic 'friends') are an awesome addition to our diet.

So let's say hello to probiotics. Do you believe probiotics are only helpful for those with stomach or digestive issues? Think again. Experts infer that our immune system is directly related to our gut, so a healthy gastro intestinal tract is not only important for our digestive system but also for our overall health.

You may wonder where probiotics come into play. These live micro organisms, known as ‘good’ or ‘friendly’ bacteria, improve and maintain the health of your gut and therefore your health and vitality. The word probiotic actually means “for life”: pro + bios = “for life”. For us to maintain a healthy digestive system we must ensure our ‘good bacteria’ is plentiful and in balance, thus ensuring they fulfil a number of important roles:

1. Improving digestion
2. Producing vitamins, specifically A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, D & K
3. Helping maintain healthy cholesterol, triglyceride levels and blood pressure
4. Relieving symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
5. Detoxifying chemicals
6. Producing nutrients to repair the gut lining
7. Increasing resistance to infections and regulating the immune function
8. Preventing the overgrowth of bad bacteria.

So, do you really need a probiotic? Few people can truly say their lifestyle and diet is perfect. Know that the number of healthy bacteria in your digestive system can be negatively influenced by factors such as:

1. Excessive alcohol intake
2. Stress
2. Consuming a diet high in fat
3. Eating a diet low in fibre
4. Exposure to environmental toxins
5. Eating processed foods
6. Gastro infections
7. Antibiotic use.

Based on the above list it would appear true that the vast majority of us need a probiotic. Here’s a start: get the balance of healthy gut bacteria in tip top shape by consuming yoghurt. Look for yoghurts that have been infused with lactobacillus or acidophilus and be sure to read the ingredients list as not all yoghurt is made equally.

Additionally, here are some suggestions for including probiotics in your diet:

1. Kefir, a fermented dairy product
2. Sauerkraut or Kimchi which is made form fermented cabbage
3. Dark chocolate (probiotics can be added to high quality dark chocolate. No complaints here).
4. Miso soup, full of lactobacilli and bifidus bacteria
6. Pickles, believe it or not are full of probiotics!
7. Tempeh, a substitute for meat or tofu, tempeh is a fermented probiotic rich food traditionally made from soy or chickpeas.
8. Kombucha Tea
9. You may also like to talk to your health care provider about adding a probiotic supplement to your routine.

Fancy getting your hands on some yoghurt recipes? Our eBook A Nourishing Kitchen offers much inspiration: Download A Nourishing Kitchen here.

And we'd love to hear from you -  how do you incorporate probiotics in your day?



March 13 2014

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