Filling the Gap: Probiotics

by Ashley on November 4, 2013

Hi friends! Happy Monday! The start of another great week!

We made it home yesterday afternoon which means that today has been filled with laundry, grocery shopping, a trip to the gym and lots of time spent loving on my pups!

Anyway, a few days ago I was talking to my mom about the obvious gap between medical and nutrition professionals and the rest of the world when it comes to health and nutrition and actually delivering the information that people need. Because I see and recognize this barrier, I truly hope that throughout my career, I can be a nutrition professional that helps fill the gap – and not widen it.

I think the gap between the role of nutrition and its importance in living a healthy life and how to do so is far to wide. As a nutrition professional, I hope to be the barrier between research and science and reality.

What sparked this conversation between me and my mom was the conversation that I want to have today regarding probiotics. Just like my mom, many of you have heard the term used over and over again but still have no idea what it really even means. My mom looked at me and said, “Why can’t they just say good digestion instead of using a term like probiotic? So many more people would understand.”

She’s absolutely right. As a dietitian, I’ve used the term “probiotics” with so many people just assuming that they understood. And that’s where the gap lies. It would be like if my sister, a Business Analyst, started talking to me about the traceability matrix; I would have no idea what she was talking about. Instead of just talking over my head, I would hope that she would first sit down an explain what she was referring to first.

Because of that conversation, today friends, in the simplest way possible, I want to talk to you about probiotics, referring to good digestion, and the importance of including them in your diet!


What are probiotics?

Probiotics are simply healthy bacteria that live in our digestive system and are found in many of our foods (or in supplement form); they play a role in health and disease. You might see them listed as long names like Bifidiobacterium animals, L acidophilus, Bifidus regularis or Saccharyomyces boulardii. These healthy bacteria are suggested to provide several health benefits including aiding in digestion and absorption of the nutrients we obtain through food, detoxification, immunity, among many, many others.

Probiotics are made through the fermentation process, whereby, starch is fermented to alcohol, creating lactic and acetic acid. These acids create beneficial enzymes, vitamins, fatty acids, and probiotics, as well as preserve the food and thus the nutrients found within the food.

While the average healthy person has adequate healthy bacteria within their digestive system, the use of antibiotics kills not only the bad bacteria but the healthy bacteria (probiotics) too. As a nation that is very quick to prescribe and to pop antibiotics, many of us are walking around without enough healthy bacteria, thus feeling bloated, inflamed and ill on a regular basis. Antibiotics, however, aren’t the only things that can wipe away these good bacteria, stress and a poor diet can also provide the same harmful effects. Adequate presence of probiotics can help ease reflux, allergies, yeast overgrowth and other digestive issues.

Why would I want to talk to you about probiotics and digestive health anyway?


Where can you find probiotics?

A few of my favorite sources of probiotics include the following:

  • Kombucha
  • yogurt
  • sauerkraut
  • kimchi
  • tempeh
  • black tea
  • oolong tea
  • fermented pickles
  • miso
Other sources of probiotics include:
  • buttermilk
  • kefir
  • some cheeses (blue cheese)
  • soy sauce

Something else to think about is prebiotics, but we will save them for another day! I hope that this provides a little bit more clarity on probiotics so that next time they come up in conversation you know exactly what they are talking about! Not only that but that you will increase your consumption of food with these healthy little bacteria!

Do you supplement with probiotics or eat any of the foods listed above? You all know that Kombucha is my favorite! 

Have an awesome day!

Good health!



{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Fifi November 4, 2013 at 6:21 pm

I like kombucha a lot, but I did not know soy sauce was also one! Wow


Ashley November 5, 2013 at 2:20 pm

I know it! There are so many fermented foods out there that I never even think about!


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