Thursday, January 31, 2013

Varieties of Probiotics

We've recently covered why good bacteria is so important to our health, so here are some of the best ways to add them to your body and diet...

fruit shake
Photo by aschaeffer

Milk Kefir

This is a great, and tasty, way to get your probiotics.   It tastes like liquid yogurt with just a slight tang to it.  Made fresh it's sour, but can easily be flavored with fruit or sweeteners.   Ideally it's made with raw milk to maximize the amount of bacteria, but regular pasteurized store milk is okay too.

I usually pick up a bottle of it in the dairy section of the grocery store. You don't need much of it, so the small bottle lasts a while.  I give my kids about 1/4 cup a day and myself about 1/2 cup per day.

Water Kefir

Made from a simple mixture of sugar, purified water, and kefir grains this is an easy and lightly sweet drink.  It has a different variety of strains of probiotics than the milk kefir, but is also very adequate at adding beneficial bacteria back into your body.

I've been making this at home for the last month or two.  It's so easy to make, and I like the taste of it which is sweet after one day, or lightly sweet with a very slight yeast taste that is barely noticeable after two days.


When choosing a supplement look for one with as many different kinds of bacteria as possible.  These are a great way to add bacteria, but are a little limited.  They have a much smaller variety of bacteria than kefir or fermented vegetables.  Each strain that comes from these pills is individually patented by the company that makes them, where as food can't be patented.  The common name that you'll find on packaging for these is probiotic acidophilus.

Fermented Vegetables

This may sound a bit daunting, but it's really just a matter of adding salt and vegetables to water and letting them sit for a week or more.  A fermenting culture is helpful because it adds an even greater variety of bacteria to the vegetables.

This process unlocks a greater amount of the nutrients in the vegetables.


Strawberries and Yogurt

Yogurt has a variety of bacteria which helps the colon to repopulate the good bacteria. Raw milk yogurt has the highest variety, but an organic store yogurt can be very helpful as well.

When adding any kind of probiotics to your diet add them gradually and in small amounts.  There's a company that I like called Cultures For Health.  Their site also contains a question and answer area below each of the products that's really helpful.

Disclaimer:  None of this should be taken as medical advice.  If you have a medical condition ask a doctor before adding probiotics to your diet.  It's shared with the sole purpose of education and discussion.


Catherine said...

good list of probiotics source. I'm eating all of them and I take probiotics supplements too. is it bad to consume too much probiotics? I think I have to research that.

Natalie Kemp said...

If you are feeling fine with what you are eating then you are probably ok with that.
I would only caution on eating too much fermented vegetables or alcohol. These have a natural bi product called ethyl carbamate that is cancer causing in large amounts.
Experts generally recommend a quarter cup a day of fermented vegetables, and only occasional consumption of alcohol.