Of course with probiotics being part of the latest health craze it can be confusing and expensive to try to figure out which kind is best. Even most MD's will tell you to take a probiotic, often yogurt, if they give you an antibiotic. To be fair, however, all the yogurt you could eat would never be able to undo the damage done by the antibiotic. Instead sourcing from a food or supplement is recommended. So today we are going to look at the best sources of probiotics from least to most expensive.
1. AU NATUREL $0 As in no expense to you. Diversifying your microbiome is as easy as interacting with the world around you. Everywhere you go there are microorganisms and when you come into contact with them you are diversifying your own skin biome. This biome "talks" to your gut biome, telling it which organisms are a normal part of your world and decreasing allergic response. Digging in the dirt exposes you to soil based probiotics that are essential for healthy gene expression. Eating food straight out your garden is one of the healthiest choices you can make, assuming they were grown organically. Pet your dog or cat after they were outside and expose yourself to all of the microbes they picked up and are bringing to you. In other words, get dirty. And don't use an anti-bacterial soap to wash up.
2. FERMENTED FOODS up to $10 There are a myriad of fermented foods, each which you can easily make yourself, or given the upswing in popularity, purchase at your grocery store or health food store. Each has their own benefits and the cost and taste varies between them.
-Kefir is dairy fermented with kefir grains and is similar to yogurt in texture. Can also be made with non-dairy milks. It ranges from 10-34 strains of probiotics
-Water Kefir, most beneficial when using coconut water, has a lower amount of probiotics but can be second fermented with fruit juice to reduce the amount of sugar, add fizz and increase probiotics in the juice. Again popular with the younger crowd.
-Kombucha is exploding in popularity and probably appeals the most to the younger crowd given its ability to be flavored in a variety of ways. Made from a base of black tea it boasts digestive support, increasing energy, and liver detoxification.
-Other sources include yogurt (should be from a grass fed and organic source), tempeh, miso, natto, kvass, apple cider vinegar, and raw cheese.
The most important thing to remember with fermented foods is that they cannot be heated, it destroys the probiotics.
3. SUPPLEMENT FORM $25 - $75 This is obviously the most convenient and most expensive way to diversify the microbes in your gut. There are shelf stable, refrigerated, and encapsulated. So how do you know what will give you the most probiotic bang for your buck? At this point most probiotics are shelf-stable. So look more to the amount of CFU's (colony forming units) to be 50 billion or higher. There should be an expiration date, the bacteria will begin to die. Look for multiple strains as well. Because there is such diversity in the types of probiotics and what each strain can do for you, if you are strictly going to use a supplement I suggest researching the strains in the product or talking to someone knowledgeable about which strains would be most beneficial to you.