We’re all teeming with bacteria — gross, but true. As it turns out, your digestive tract is filled with bacteria. It’s part of your biological ecosystem — it’s supposed to be there. But some gut bacteria is good, while other types aren’t. Therefore, it’s important to keep as much good bacteria — otherwise known as probiotics –inside you as possible to stay healthy.
You can find this type of bacteria in a variety of foods, too, not just yogurt. There are plenty of probiotic-rich foods that are also dairy-free. In fact, some of the foods you know and love don’t just taste good: they’re also great for your gut.
1. Dark chocolate
This is probably one of the better dessert options out there. Dark chocolate has more health benefits than risks, especially in small amounts. Gut Health Project says, in addition to providing plenty of antioxidants and fiber, it’s also an excellent source of probiotics. But don’t forget, it’s still chocolate — there’s plenty of added sugar packed into even the tiniest square. Try dipping your favorite fruit in dark chocolate to reap the benefits of both when you’re craving something sweet.
2. Green peas
Green peas are a starchy legume with all sorts of health benefits. Each low-calorie pea comes packed with fiber and B vitamins, making them the perfect addition to salads. Their particular strain of probiotics can’t survive at high temperatures, however, so make sure to eat them raw if you’e on a quest to fill your GI tract with good bacteria.
3. Fermented cheese
Cheese lovers, rejoice! Many forms of soft cheeses also contain gut-benefiting bacteria. Surprisingly, cheddar is one of the best sources of probiotics. The Journal of Applied Microbiology discovered good bacteria actually survive the manufacturing and aging process. The same goes for several other types of cheeses, including mozzarella, Gouda, and cottage. Ask for cheddar or mozzarella on your next burger to sneak some good bacteria into your meal.
Probiotics and your immune system
If you’re often home sick or constantly in GI-related discomfort, probiotic foods might be the cure you’re looking for. According to some research, probiotic foods may protect your cells against disease, though it’s important to note this is a very controlled example using individual cells. While, probiotics alone won’t protect you from illness, research suggests they could help prevent digestive-related issues.
And while we’re on the topic of illness, taking antibiotics when you’re sick wipes out both the good and bad bacteria in your system. This can lead to what is known as antibiotic-associated diarrhea, which is not a good thing. Fortunately, the