My Favorite Ways to Get Probiotics
Sometimes I have digestive issues because I travel a lot or change up my eating pattern or get too busy to remember the basics: water, fiber, exercise. But I will use probiotics to help my gut get back to normal and flowing smoothly.
When I need a restart, I look to probiotics. Probiotics are live microorganisms (or bacteria) that's good for your body. They promote gut health. Incorporating probiotics in your diet is a good way to take care of your digestive tract.
When I travel, I will often incorporate probiotics into my diet simply because the new environment will often introduce bacteria to my system that my body isn't familiar with. Because of this I will sometimes have some kind of digestive chaos. It often presents itself as either diarrhea or constipation or just an uneasy stomach. You may not be able to fully keep away "traveler's diarrhea" but you'll be a step ahead by incorporating probiotics into your travel plans.
I try to add probiotics into my usual diet but especially after catching myself going on a streak of eating foods that are high in fat or sodium and not having enough fiber in my diet. The goal is to try to always have a balanced diet but when I fall off course for too long, I need a reset and will gravitate towards probiotics to help find some balance.
It's also important to add probiotics to your diet when you are taking antibiotics. Antibiotics kill the bacteria in your body to fight off any infections but it also may kill some of the good bacteria in your gut that your body needs. Some people will have GI upsets or even a more serious illness referred to as "C. diff" after taking antibiotics. C. diff is a bacterium that causes diarrhea and inflammation in the colon. Taking probiotics will help to replace some of those good bacteria that the antibiotics may lower in amount.
I tend to gravitate towards these 4 sources of probiotics: kimchi, yogurt, kombucha, and pill form.
Kimchi is a traditional Korean dish. It's usually fermented Napa cabbage and radish but can also be made with other vegetables. Even though it has this bright red color, it's not usually spicy. It's a tangy, sour flavor and is usually served cold and part of Korean banchan. Banchan is a mix of side dishes to eat with Korean BBQ or part of a Korean meal.
Kimchi is becoming more popular and can be more easily found in grocery stores in the refrigerated produce section. This kimchi above is a vegan version. If you are following a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle, you'll want to make sure that you read the ingredients. Often kimchi is made with oysters.
You can find kimchi in your regular grocery store and find many varieties in an Asian market, and there are recipes online that you can try as well. Some recipes have the kimchi fermenting for a couple of days. There are some recipes with deep flavors that will have you burying your kimchi jars in the yard and leaving it there for weeks or months. I guess it's up to you how much patience you have. Or you can be like me and just go to the grocery. LOL
You can eat kimchi cold or stir fry it with rice to make a kimchi fried rice. If you are still weird-ed out by the though of kimchi and fermented food, don't be. Sauerkraut is the same thing but with a German origin. Sauerkraut also has probiotic properties as it's fermented cabbage as well. Sauerkraut is something that people are familiar with. Try kimchi and let me know how you like it in the comments below.
Yogurt is a food made by the bacterial fermentation of milk. You can now find some non-dairy versions of yogurt as well. There are so many ways to incorporate yogurt into your diet. You can eat it plain or pair it with fruits. You can blend it into smoothies or add it into dips or marinades.
When traveling I try to get yogurt in the airports or convenient stores. You may not always find your specific brand or flavor that you love, but you can find some version. If you look into the grocery store yogurt section, it's overwhelming. There are so many kinds of yogurts to choose from! There are different fat levels: 0% (nonfat), 1%, 2%, whole or full fat. There is regular yogurt, light versions, Greek yogurt, Icelandic yogurt, French yogurts. Then there are so many flavors! If you can imagine it, you can probably find it in the yogurt section.
French yogurts are made with whole milk and in smaller batches. Greek yogurt has more protein and is thicker in texture than the regular yogurt. Icelandic yogurt is even thicker and creamier than Greek yogurt and is usually made with strained nonfat milk.
There are lots of yogurt options to choose from so keep searching until you find something you like.
Kombucha, funny name, but a tart probiotic drink. It's a fermented tea drink. The fermentation process does produce a little bit of alcohol. It's not enough to make a cocktail but it's something to consider if you are avoiding alcohol. Kombucha is something that is also more easily found in grocery stores. As you can see in the picture above, it comes in flavors other than "tea".
To describe the taste, I'd compare it to apple cider vinegar. It has a strong flavor that lingers in the background of whatever flavors you have paired with it to make it more refreshing. You can find more less sugary versions of kombucha as well.
Kombucha is naturally fizzy so it's fun! It's naturally carbonated so if you're trying to avoid carbonated drinks this doesn't count. Ha Ha Ha...
Probiotics in pill form is convenient because some of them do not have to be refrigerated so they travel well. This is the reason I chose to use supplements during my travel to Thailand. I was on antibiotics while I was there because I was attacked by a dog. (It's a long story) But I definitely didn't want to travel to a new place without having my immune system in tip top shape. Since I didn't know if any of the other options would be something I could depend on while there, it was best for me to grab a bottle of supplements. When using probiotics for travel purposes, it's best to give yourself a week of taking them before you travel so you can know how your body reacts to them.
Probiotics are a good thing to incorporate into your diet. Your gut will love you for it.