3 Mistakes to Avoid with Probiotic Foods
If you are making a commitment to your health by trying to eat more probiotic foods, good for you. It’s one of the best decisions you can make for your health. But in order to get the most benefits possible, you need to purchase and prepare these foods correctly. Here are three of the most common mistakes people make when it comes to probiotic foods:
- Buying Probiotic Foods Packed with Unhealthy Ingredients
You might think that you can go to your nearest grocery store, pick any brand of yogurt, and reap the benefits. But you have to understand that not all types of yogurt deliver the best probiotic advantages. Yogurt is one of the more popular probiotic foods, but many of them are filled with artificial sweeteners and sugar. Be very careful when buying yogurt, and look for brands that don’t contain these extra ingredients.
- Using Too Much Heat
If you turn up the heat when adding a probiotic-rich food, such as kimchi or miso, to your main meal, you’ll be robbing yourself of the benefits. The reason is that many of the bacterial cultures that are good for us can’t withstand temperatures of more than 150°F.1 If you’re preparing a dish using one of these foods, you should consider waiting until the main course is nearly done. Top off the meal with your probiotic food, or serve it on the side.
- Buying Food that Doesn’t Actually Contain Probiotics
You might assume that you’re buying probiotic foods, when in fact they don’t contain any probiotics at all. Pasteurized milk is one example. The pasteurization process is incredibly important in food safety. However, it not only kills harmful bacteria but good ones as well.2 If you purchase canned probiotic foods, like kimchi or sauerkraut, there’s a very good chance that they’ve been pasteurized. Read the labels carefully, and check the refrigerated section, too. That’s where you may find kimchi and sauerkraut that’s probiotics-friendly.
Again, if you’ve made the decision to try and eat healthier and lose weight, congratulations. But you might actually be harming your gastrointestinal tract, or “gut,” in the process.
For example, if you follow a low-carbohydrate diet, that could mean you’re not getting enough fiber. Fiber acts as a prebiotic, providing the food that probiotic bacteria need in order to thrive.3 If you don’t have enough fiber in your diet, the good bacteria in your gut will find it difficult to get the energy they need.
There are lots of foods you’ll find on the shelves of your local grocery store that are high in prebiotics. These include onions, asparagus, bananas, oats, garlic and many others. But there are others that you’ll probably have to go to a health food store to find. These include burdock root, Chinese chives, chicory root and Jerusalem artichokes.4
Finding Other Types of Probiotics
Also, some people are hesitant to branch out and try other types of probiotic foods and beverages. There are a lot of others out there that not only taste great, but also provide substantial health benefits. Here are just a few examples:
- Natto – This is a Japanese dish that is made from fermented soybeans. Natto is rich in the Bacillus subtilis strain of good bacteria, which has been shown to boost the immune system.5 Natto also contains nattokinase, a very important enzyme that is key to helping prevent blood clots from forming.6
- Kombucha tea – This is a fermented beverage that is also popular in Japan. It is filled with beneficial bacteria that help increase energy, support improved digestive health, and also detoxify the liver.7
- Kvass – Kvass is a fermented beverage with its roots in Eastern Europe. It can be made with carrots or roots, but has been traditionally prepared using barley or rye. It helps keep the liver, as well as the blood, clear of impurities.8
While it’s great that you’re trying to incorporate more probiotic foods into your diet, as you can see above, you need to be careful. Talk to your doctor about the safest ways to do so, and make sure that the foods you buy will actually deliver the benefits you expect.