What are probiotics?

Sauerkraut, kimchi and yogurt are popular probiotic fermented foods

You may have noticed an addition to my diet last week: A daily bottle of Yakult. Yakult is a probiotic drink meant to help improve the population of bacteria in your gut. I felt the earlier bouts of diarrhoea likely decimated the microbes that live in my gut so decided to give them a helping hand.

You may have heard the term probiotics before. These are foods or supplements that contain live bacteria meant to take up residence in our gut. Populations of microbes (bacteria and yeasts) live in and on various parts of the body, including the intestines and colon. Most are benign or beneficial, part of a normal, healthy body. For example, microbes in our gut break down foods we can’t digest on our own. Certain bacteria produce enzymes that help us digest carbohydrates, with some research indicating we get as much as 10% of our calories from foods digested by microbes. As well, different microbes in the large intestine make vitamins which we then absorb, including vitamin K and many B vitamins.

This is why, if you’re having digestive issues, it might be worth giving probiotics a try. Some naturally fermented foods contain large amounts of beneficial bacteria, such as yoghurt, kefir (a fermented milk drink), sauerkraut (German style fermented cabbage), kimchi (Korean style fermented cabbage), tempeh (fermented tofu made from soybeans), and Japanese natto. You can also get supplements like my Yakult drink from supermarkets or pills from health food shops.

As well as adding new bacteria using probiotics, you can also feed your current population of beneficial bacteria with prebiotics. Prebiotics all contain a non-digestible fibre compound found in some fruits, vegetables and complex carbohydrates. Like any other fibre, these compounds pass through the stomach and intestines undigested until they reach the colon, where they are fermented by the gut bacteria. So while prebiotics contain very few bacteria themselves, they help to feed the good bacteria in your gut. The best prebiotic foods include garlic, onions, asparagus, leeks, chicory root, dandelion greens and under-ripe bananas. Ideally all should be eaten raw or very, very lightly steamed, to keep the fibre intact.

So as part of my recovery from stomach flu, you’ll find probiotics like Yakult, kefir and yoghurt to introduce good bacteria, and plenty of fibre to keep them growing.

The Score for 28 March:

Calories: Protein: Carbs: Sugars: Fat: Sat Fat: Fibre:  
2106 131.09g 241.94g 102.83g 65.51g 13.67g 31.47g
25% 46% 28%
Calories burned through exercise: 528

What I ate:

Time Item Amount Calories Protein Carbs Sugars Fibre Fat Sat Fat Alcohol
08:00 Centrum Multivitamin,  Vitamin E 400IU, Vitamin D 25 µg
Tap water 250mL 0 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Soft boiled eggs, 2 large 120g 157 15.12 0.00 0.00 0.00 10.80 3.00 0.00
Genius brown sliced gluten free bread, 2 slices toasted 61g 159 1.58 28.35 1.51 6.30 4.16 0.32 0.00
SunPat crunchy peanut butter 29g 183 7.40 4.40 2.00 2.20 14.60 2.80 0.00
Honey 11g 35 0.06 8.91 8.91 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Black Tea 450mL 0 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
10:00 Twinnings cherry and cinnamon tea 250mL 0 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
12:30 Spice Tailor rustic Rogan Josh curry sauce made with diced chicken breast and peppers 240g 316 31.22 11.11 7.67 2.87 15.80 2.64 0.00
Brown basmati rice 130g 150 3.75 30.83 0.51 1.44 1.23 0.29 0.00
Tesco ready to eat dried apricots 40g 83 0.96 18.68 15.08 2.48 0.00 0.00 0.00
Green tea 250mL 0 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
15:30 Activia natural yoghurt 150g 96 7.50 9.90 9.90 0.00 2.90 2.00 0.00
Natures Path Mesa Sunrise cereal 50g 195 5.00 40.00 6.50 5.00 1.65 0.25 0.00
Sliced plums, 2 medium 163g 68 0.98 14.34 14.34 2.61 0.16 0.00 0.00
Sunflower seeds 7g 42 1.46 0.80 0.18 0.60 3.61 0.32 0.00
Pumpkin seeds 5g 30 1.51 0.54 0.07 0.30 2.46 0.44 0.00
16:30 Medicine ball session
18:45 Baked chicken breast, 98g 135 31.90 0.00 0.00 0.00 1.90 0.60 0.00
Merchant Gourmet red and white quinoa, 125g 231 7.63 35.75 1.88 5.00 5.25 0.63 0.00
Broccoli, microwaved, 104g 41 4.47 3.33 1.98 2.60 0.62 0.21 0.00
and Cucina Glaze with Balsamic vinegar of Modena 15g 39 0.08 9.60 7.20 0.08 0.08 0.00 0.00
Starbucks steamed skimmed milk with vanilla shot Tall 146 10.50 25.40 25.10 0.00 0.30 0.20 0.00

Image Copyright: <a href=’https://www.123rf.com/profile_pixelsaway’>pixelsaway / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

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