With the constant flurry of health-related buzzwords floating around the Internet, “probiotics” is one that seems here to stay. Chances are you’ve read about the benefits of taking a probiotic supplement — maybe your doctor has even recommended one to you. And plenty of nutritionists are singing the praises of probiotic-rich foods like kimchi, sauerkraut and kombucha on a near-daily basis. It may seem daunting, but you don’t have to dive headfirst into a brand new diet to reap the benefits of probiotics. We chatted with wellness expert, holistic health coach and author of Go with Your Gut, Robyn Youkilis, to get some simple steps to achieving better gut health without overhauling your lifestyle.
You don’t need a supplement
A supplement can be a great place to start, says Youkilis, but she tends to encourage her clients to get their fill of probiotics when they dine. “They taste delicious,” she says. “At the heart of all of this, I’m a foodie.” Add a spoonful of sauerkraut to your salad for tang. A dollop of kimchi gives your fried rice some zip. You might even already be incorporating some probiotics into your diet through chocolate, wine and sourdough bread. (Yes, you read that right. But as always, eat and drink them in moderation for a healthy diet.) The amount and types of probiotics are not quite the same as those found in yogurt or kefir, but hey, you’re on the right track!
Know how to cook with probiotics
Unfortunately, you can’t rely on a diet of merlot and dark chocolate to get the probiotics you need. Probiotics work best in their raw form of live and active cultures. This means when you add probiotic-rich ingredients to meals, you don’t want to cook them. Turn off the heat before adding ingredients like yogurt, kraut, pickles, kimchi or miso to your dishes. This will keep the probiotics in their natural state so you can reap the most benefit.
Time it right
If you’re planning on eating and drinking your probiotics, start in the morning and try to incorporate one probiotic ingredient into each of your meals throughout the day. For example, have a yogurt with granola in the morning, a sandwich with pickled veggies for lunch and a small bottle of kefir as a snack. On the flip side, if you’re taking a supplement, do it before bed, when Youkilis advises your digestive system will do a better job of digesting it.
Don’t worry about eating too many
“This is one of those things where you can’t get enough of it,” says Youkilis. And just like you want to eat a variety of fruits, veggies and proteins, the same goes for probiotics. Probiotics come in many different strains that each provide distinct digestive benefits, so you’ll want to try to incorporate lots of different probiotic-rich foods into your diet.
Try new things
With probiotics becoming key players in our quest to be well, major brands are designing new products with probiotics in mind. For example, Tropicana just launched Tropicana Probiotics, a line of fruit juices fortified with one billion live and active cultures per serving. Youkilis says we should expect to see more of this in the future. “People are talking about this for good reason, and brands are seeing a shift,” she says.