You've probably heard the buzz about probiotics, the live organisms like bacteria and yeast that are believed to improve digestion and overall health. "Probiotics are similar to or the same organisms as the 'good' bacteria already in the gut," says Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics spokeswoman Marjorie Nolan Cohn, MS, RD. "The human digestive system has more than 500 types of bacteria. Bacteria help to keep the intestines healthy, assist in digestion, and maybe even boost the immune system."
4 Ways to Get More Probiotics in Your Diet
1. Eat cultured or fermented foods.
Foods like kefir (the fermented dairy drink), sauerkraut (fermented cabbage), kimchi (spicy pickled cabbage), fermented Kombucha tea, olives, and pickles are naturally high in probiotics.
2. Choose live-cultured yogurt
"Look for all-natural yogurt with live cultures like lactobacillus or acidophilus," suggests Nolan. You also might want to give goat's milk yogurt a try. "Goat’s milk and cheese are particularly high in probiotics like thermophilus, bifidus, bulgaricus, and acidophilus," she adds.
That said, sugar feeds harmful bacteria, so go plain and unsweetened all the way, notes Iserloh. "Also, do not heat yogurt as it will kill these beneficial bacteria colonies," she warns.
3. Talk to your doctor about supplements.
Supplemental forms of probiotics can be beneficial, but it may take some time to find the best kind for you (and always be sure to be talk to your doctor before taking any supplements). "For people suffering with digestive conditions or diseases such as IBS, taking probiotics may help by regulating bowel movements," Nolan says. Certain digestive enzymes, like Enzyme Probiotic Complex from American Health, also offer probiotic benefits.
4. Sip on a Kiwi Lime Pie Smoothie
Iserloh's refreshing smoothie recipe gives you your probiotics (kefir) as well as your daily vitamin C (kiwis).
1 kiwi, peeled
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt or kefir
1/3 cup vanilla whey protein powder
1 tablespoon macadamia nuts or almonds
1 tablespoon chia or ground flax
1 lime, zested and juice
1 teaspoon stevia (optional)
½ cup cold water
Place the kiwi, yogurt or kefir, plain kefir or Greek yogurt, whey protein powder, nuts, chia or ground flax, lime zest and juice, and stevia if using in a blender along with 4 ice cubes. Process until smooth and serve immediately.
Per serving (2 cups): 345 calories, 27 g protein, 34 g carbohydrates, 14 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 5 mg cholesterol, 12 g fiber, 148 mg sodium