Natural probiotics are useful microorganisms, live yeasts and bacteria that reside in the digestive tract.
The probiotics that are featured in dietary supplements and foods are similar to the probiotics that naturally occur in the stomach. While the body does not necessarily require probiotic supplementation, probiotics that are contained in supplements form can assist digestive health by:
- Reducing the bad bacteria in the stomach that can lead to inflammation or infection
- Replacing good bacteria that may have been removed through antibiotic use and
- Balancing out the bacterial balance to ensure that the body is functioning properly.
Interest in the probiotic acidophilus started as far back as the late 19th century. At that time, the bacterium was credited for adding to the long life of the people living in the Balkans who regularly ingested fermented milk.
Later, it was discovered that milk was rich in L. acidophilus. Since that discovery, the probiotic has been a topic of interest regarding digestive health.
The good probiotic concept is generally attributed to Russian scientist and Nobel laureate Elie Metchnikoff who in 1907 stated:
“The dependence of the intestinal microbes on the food makes it possible to adopt measures to modify the flora in our bodies and to replace the harmful microbes by useful microbes”.
The probiotics that naturally occur in the stomach include a yeast called Saccharomyces boulardii and bacteria that include the Bifobacterium and Lactobacillus microorganism families.
What foods have probiotics?
Foods with probiotics include:
- Yogurt, the most well known food containing probiotics
- Soy drinks
- fermented and unfermented milk
- Soft cheeses
This list of probiotic foods isn’t exhaustive but it’s a good start.
Probiotic Yogurt, Probiotic Acidophilus
The best way to ingest probiotics naturally is to add probiotic foods to your diet. Natural yogurt with probiotics is one of the easiest, so you can start here, and natural kefir is so delicious it can be addictive!
There’s one thing that is indispensable though, and this is the quality of the yogurt or of the milk and the yogurt starter if it’s homemade.
You can buy yogurt in any grocery store, but unless you buy it organic from a health store or a brand you know positively that’s first quality, you never know if it contains enough good yogurt bacteria, if it’s a real acidophilus probiotic.
Secondly, there’s the taste. Heirloom, natural or organic yogurt tastes a million times better than industrial yogurt, to me, at least. I include heirloom because the best yogurt I ever tasted was years ago on the Balearic island of Eivissa (Ibiza), yes, the sought-after white island.
Perhaps hard to believe for you but true. It was very difficult to find and the production was tiny but I still remember that gorgeous natural yogurt taste. Even the texture was wonderful and the price very low!
Another time, in an Italian travel, I also had a positive surprise in a conventional Rome supermarket. They had natural yogurt from the Tyrol. I can’t remember if it was the the Italian or the Austrian Tyrol, but never mind, the yogurt wasn’t certified organic but it was superb.
Now I always make my own yogurt, once a week or so, and you can do it too. It’s cheaper that buying it from a health store and making yogurt with a yogurt maker is one of the easiest things in the world, and affordable too.
If you want to make your own yogurt, you only need a decent yogurt maker, yogurt starter and quality milk. A kitchen thermometer is helpful, but it isn’t essential. If you prefer a Greek yogurt maker, that’s fine too, it’s the yogurt culture that counts, not the yogurt style.
I personally use organic milk and organic yogurt culture. I used to make yogurt with raw milk from a very old farmer, but unfortunately I don’t have access to this milk any more, so the next best thing I can get is organic. If you buy any milk from the supermarket, the end result is not so satisfactory or even frustrating.
Where To Buy Probiotics
You can also obtain probiotics supplements in the form of capsules, powders, tablets and liquid extracts — each of which contains a specific kind of probiotic. Such supplements are regularly found in vitamin shops, natural health food stores and similar retailers. Again, one of the frequently used supplements is acidophilus.
An Overview Of The Probiotic Acidophilus
According to the American Cancer Society, acidophilus, also known as lactic acid bacteria or scientifically named L. acidophilus, is a bacterium that is regularly found in normal digestive tract functioning. It is produced primarily in the small intestine.
This useful germ is included in a variety of dairy products, especially yogurt. Acidophilus and related bacteria are considered probiotic as they maintain the balance of bacteria in the intestine and therefore are promoted for maintaining the health of the bowels.
When taking a probiotic like acidophilus, the dosage refers to the amount of live bacteria. Experts recommend that a dose consist of one billion to 15 billion bacteria although some insist that a larger amount is better. The supplement should be taken one to three times per day in capsule, liquid, tablet or powder form.
Some Ways To Add Probiotics To Your Daily Diet
It is clear that probiotics can facilitate several aspects of good health. While supplements are available, eating plain yogurt (as we said above) is a great way to get your daily intake of probiotics, besides the fact that yogurt is a great source of other important nutrients, like protein and calcium, which makes yogurt a better choice than supplementation.
Yogurt is also very versatile and can be eaten for breakfast with berries and a sprinkle of flax seeds for a nice fiber boost. This is how we eat yogurt in the mornings: four to six dessert spoons of plain yogurt to which some days we add half a tea spoon of organic flax seeds and/or organic turmeric powder and from time to time we add some honey too. Excellent for breakfast!
Yogurt can also make a great snack and dessert that unlike ice cream is much lower in fat and yet still satisfies the sweet tooth when made into a smoothie with fruit. There are a lot of recipes with yogurt in the acclaimed Book of Yogurt, 300 hundred at least.
Greek-style tzatziki is also a great way to eat natural yogurt: some yogurt, a cucumber, garlic cloves, olive olive oil and a pinch of salt. Optionally you can add mint and some lemon juice.
A piece of advice I got from an Indian Ayurveda practitioner is that you shouldn’t eat large quantities of yogurt, particularly after 12 pm, as it’s not so easy to digest in large amounts as people think.