8 Probiotic Foods That Boost Immunity and Improve Digestion

Maria Masters wrote this article.


If you think “bacteria” and “germs” are interchangeable, you’d be wrong. Probiotics, or “good” bacteria that live in your digestive system, are the hottest new buzzword in the health and wellness industry. According to National Institutes of Health survey data, approximately 4 million people consumed some form of probiotic product in 2012. (NIH).

Probiotics, on the other hand, are a little more complicated. While it’s true that some microorganisms can wreak havoc on your immune system, probiotics can actually help strengthen it. According to Tara Gidus Collingwood, M.S., R.D.N., dietitian for the Orlando Magic basketball team and author of Flat Belly Cookbook for Dummies, beneficial bugs can help your body fight disease-causing bacteria and prevent infections like yeast overgrowth.

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Diversifying your gut bacteria with probiotics can help prevent diarrhea and upper respiratory infections, according to a BMJ review in 2018. (or the common cold). Researchers believe that the benefits may extend beyond the digestive system. It has been suggested that probiotics may help alleviate depression symptoms by reducing inflammation in the body, according to a study published in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity in 2018.

There are probiotic supplements on the market, but they can also be found in fermented foods and dairy products in their naturally occurring form. (As Gidus Collingwood points out, heat can kill probiotics, and since they are living organisms, they may not be present in some store-bought canned foods.)

What about giving them a whirl? How to eat probiotics is also included in this list of eight healthy sources.