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In what kind of foods do probiotics naturally exist?

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Quick Answer

Often used to treat or prevent stomach and intestinal problems, probiotics naturally exist in fermented foods, such as sauerkraut and pickles, and in cultured milk products, including yogurt and kefir.

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Full Answer

The human intestines contain 500 million bacteria, both good and bad. Probiotics, or "good bacteria," help the body absorb vitamins and minerals, while maintaining a balance of organisms in the digestive tract. This balance can prevent or treat gastrointestinal issues, such as gas and diarrhea, and help boost the immune system and metabolism. Many over-the-counter, probiotic supplements, including Culturelle and Florastor, do exist, but doctors recommend consuming at least one serving of probiotic-rich foods per day in addition to taking any supplements.

The most well-known probiotic, lactic acid bacteria, or Lactobacillus acidophilus, can be found in yogurt made from cow, soy and nut milk with live and active cultures, and in some cheeses, such as Gouda, cheddar and Swiss. Gut-friendly fermented foods with probiotics include kimchi and miso, a traditional Japanese seasoning often used to flavor stews and soups. Fermented beverages, such as ginger beer and kombucha, which has been used for centuries to enhance well-being and increase energy, offer a convenient and refreshing way to enjoy a healthy, probiotic-rich serving.

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