Probiotics are all the rage in the health world right now, and rightfully so! These live microorganisms, often referred to as the “good bacteria,” have been shown to aid in digestion and help build strong immunity. If you’re looking to supplement your diet with probiotics, you may be wondering which method is best. Should you take a pill supplement, or choose foods that naturally contain probiotics? Each method has its own pros and cons, so here are some things to consider when deciding one works best for you.
If you’re concerned that you aren’t getting enough probiotics in your diet, supplements are a quick and easy fix. Stores now carry probiotic supplements in pill-form, powders and even liquid shots. These are a convenient way to increase your probiotic intake without making any significant changes to your diet.
When choosing a probiotic supplement, take some time to read labels and comparison shop. Choose a supplement that contains at least 20 billion live organisms per dose. That might sound like a lot, but don’t worry. It’s nearly impossible to overdose on probiotics! Most supplements contain Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, two of the most-studied probiotic bacterial strains. Be sure to change your supplement every month or two to provide your body with a variety of probiotic strains (Source: Women's Health).
Cost is one factor to consider when deciding whether probiotic supplements are right for you. Quality supplements can be a little pricey, averaging around $45 for a 1 to 2 month supply. Supplements also fall short of providing the same probiotic content as certain foods. Of course, if your diet is already lacking in probiotic-rich foods anyway, adding supplements will certainly help.
Fermented foods naturally contain probiotics – and lots of them! While most probiotic pill supplements contain about 10 billion colony-forming units of bacteria, fermented foods contain almost 10 trillion colony-forming units. Just one serving of fermented vegetables contains more probiotics than an entire bottle of pill supplements (Source: Mercola.com).
When you’re shopping for probiotic-rich foods, look for words like raw, lacto-fermented, unpasteurized and live active cultures. Sauerkraut, kombucha, pickles and Greek yogurt are known for their probiotic content and can easily be found in most supermarkets. Foods that are fortified with probiotics are less impressive in terms of probiotic content, as the manufacturing process kills off many of the live active cultures.
If you’re looking to get the most bang for your buck, fermented foods are the way to go. They provide a wider variety of probiotics, carry the highest probiotic content, and are far cheaper than pill supplements. But if you’re a picky eater or have certain dietary restrictions (a histamine-restricted diet does not allow fermented foods), this may not be the best route for you.
There’s a lot to consider when adding probiotics to your diet, but what matters most is that you do it! Probiotics provide a multitude of health benefits that can change your body from the inside out. So the next time you’re at the grocery store, consider filling your cart with some probiotic-rich foods or a high quality supplement. They’re definitely worth checking out!