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Probiotics & Fermented Foods for Digestive Health

By: Madie P., Assistant Center Director, Edina, MN

Probiotics have certainly gained lots of buzz in the recent years. Many of the foods you may already be enjoying contain the probiotics you are hearing all about! But what exactly are probiotics? And what are the benefits of consuming them?

Your gut is made up of a microbiome, where trillions of bacteria live in abundance. The bacterium in your gut is responsible for several functions, but some of the most notable include digestion, immune function, and sleep. Eating foods rich in probiotics helps us balance the ratio of good and bad bacteria in our system. When the number of good bacteria is unbalanced by bad bacteria, gut dysbiosis occurs. Individuals with gut dysbiosis may experience some troubling symptoms. Some common symptoms of an unbalanced microbiome include bloating, fatigue, and constipation. There is a notable correlation between reduced good bacteria and disease, gut dysbiosis can also be seen as a factor in many chronic conditions, including obesity, IBS and even heart disease.1 If you want to learn more about how gut health can affect brain health, read this Livea blog!

Probiotics are the “good” bacteria that work hard to help your gut break down food and balance out the bad bacteria. Fermented foods are a perfect way to provide good bacteria and create balance your microbiome! Yogurt, kimchi, and sauerkraut are some of the best sources of probiotics. Eating foods high in fiber, like beans, apples, or broccoli, will provide a source “food” for the gut bacteria to consume which will allow them to flourish.2 According to one Stanford study, fermented foods, like kimchi, have also been shown to lower inflammation in the body which helps prevent or even reverse some chronic diseases.3 Incorporating probiotics regularly through fermented foods and supplementation can aid in boosting your immune system, improving digestion, and even increasing your overall energy levels. Read more about the probiotic that Livea offers here!

Incorporating one serving of probiotics daily is shown to yield the great benefits discussed above. Choosing a serving of plain Greek yogurt will replenish your gut with the Lactobacillus bacteria which has been shown to increase immune function and even aid in weight loss. In one study, eating fermented foods, like yogurt with Lactobacillus bacteria reduced body fat in dieters by 3–4% over 6 weeks.4

Probiotics have become a hot topic in the health and wellness realm, and for good reason! Gut dysbiosis is all too common and can result in uncomfortable symptoms that can lead to chronic disease over time. Healthy bacteria provided from fermented foods and supplementation can improve our digestion, increase our immunity, and even aid in our weight loss! Now that you are aware of the amazing benefits, next time you are at your local market, be sure to stop a pickup probiotic rich, fermented foods like sauerkraut or yogurt.

  1. Stewart, Leigh. (2021). Dysbiosis: What Is Gut Dysbiosis And How To Heal Your Gut?. Atlas Bio Med. https://atlasbiomed.com/blog/what-is-dysbiosis/#:~:text=Gut%20microbiome%20dysbiosis%20is%20surprisingly,Crohn’s%20disease%2C%20and%20ulcerative%20colitis.
  2. Weaver, Janelle. (2021). Fermented-food diet increases microbiome diversity, decreases inflammatory proteins, study finds. Harvard. https://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2021/07/fermented-food-diet-increases-microbiome-diversity-lowers-inflammation#:~:text=Stanford%20researchers%20discover%20that%20a,diversity%20and%20improves%20immune%20responses.&text=Stanford%20researchers%20found%20that%20eating,is%20associated%20with%20improved%20health.
  3. Kim, Lisa. (2021). How fermented foods improve immune responses | 90 Seconds w/ Lisa Kim. Stanford Medicine. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AH-rhycjKVk&t=56s
  4. Jaclyn M. Omar, Yen-Ming Chan, Mitchell L. Jones, Satya Prakash, Peter J.H. Jones. (2013). Lactobacillus fermentum and Lactobacillus amylovorus as probiotics alter body adiposity and gut microflora in healthy persons. Journal of Functional Foods. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1756464612001399