Six Benefits of Probiotic Drinks
In recent years, probiotics (specifically probiotic drinks) have become immensely popular in the health food world.
The rise of the probiotic drink might have left you wondering: what are the real health benefits of probiotic drinks, if any?
In this article, we’ll give you an overview of probiotics, answer what they can and can’t do for your health, and provide a few examples of delicious probiotic drinks you can try for yourself.
Overview of Probiotics
Before we dive into probiotic drinks specifically, let’s take a look at probiotics in general. Probiotics are microorganisms, usually bacteria or yeast, that add to the population of healthy bacteria in your gut. Essentially, probiotics act as backup for the good bacteria that naturally occurs in your body.
Once in your gut, probiotics can help both your digestive and immune systems. You can ingest probiotics through food, drinks, or supplements, and there are a wide variety of probiotic species, each of which addresses a slightly different health condition.
Probiotics vs. Prebiotics
When discussing probiotics, it’s important to not get them confused with prebiotics. While probiotics are living microorganisms, prebiotics are food for those microorganisms. The main source of prebiotics are fibers that humans cannot digest but the bacteria in your gut can. When foods contain both probiotics and prebiotics they are referred to as synbiotics.
Benefit of Probiotic Drinks vs. Supplements
Although taking probiotic supplements is a great option for many people, there are a few benefits to consuming your probiotics in a drink.
One of the most attractive benefits of probiotic drinks is that they are easy to consume and are often quite tasty. Additionally, they usually contain other nutrients as well as the probiotic. For example, tepache contains lots of vitamin C because it is made from fermented pineapple.
Benefits of Probiotic Drinks
Now that we’ve covered some of the basics of probiotics, let’s look at the health benefits of probiotic drinks!
They Help Attain Bacterial Balance in the Gut
One of the most powerful benefits of probiotic drinks is that they contain microorganisms that can help return the balance of bacteria in your gut to a healthy equilibrium.
When you experience a bacterial infection, it is because there is an excess of bad bacteria in your gut. Drinking probiotics introduces good bacteria into your gut which helps the naturally occurring good bacteria in your gut fight off the harmful bacteria.
Aside from infection, another common cause of harmful bacterial imbalances in your gut is taking antibiotics. Often antibiotics work by killing off the bacteria in your gut that is causing infection.
However, antibiotics usually do not discriminate between good and bad bacteria and therefore end up killing a lot of good bacteria as well. For this reason, it is a good idea to drink lots of probiotic drinks while you’re taking antibiotics to give the good bacteria in your gut a boost.
They Help Support Digestive Health
Another benefit of probiotic drinks is that they can help support regular digestive function and keep irregularities at bay. Diarrhea for example causes frequent loose and watery stool. It is an uncomfortable disturbance and can oftentimes be painful. Drinking lots of probiotic drinks can help your body balance out good and bad bacteria to help alleviate and soothe symptoms.
They Can Help To Support Vaginal Health
Just like the digestive system, the vaginal ecosystem contains a delicate balance of microorganisms. Although it is usually too acidic for bad bacteria to survive, sometimes medications or infections can throw off the bacterial balance.
For this reason, probiotic drinks can help your body maintain a healthy vaginal bacterial balance. Although there is not ample research to support the claim, many women use probiotic drinks to treat the symptoms of common vaginal problems such as bacterial vaginosis, yeast infections, and UTIs.
Boost Your Immune System
Probiotic drinks can give your immune system a boost to help it function like it should. For this reason, it’s a great idea for athletes and people engaging in contant, high-intensity exercise to think about incorporating probiotic drinks into their diet. Given that regular, intense exercise can suppress your immune system, it’s a good idea to aid your immune system through your diet. As they say -- gut health is health!
Types of Probiotic Drinks
Now that you know a bit about the incredible health benefits of probiotic drinks, let’s take a look at a few of the most common probiotic drinks available.
Tepache is a traditional Mexican street beverage made from fermented pineapple. Given that it requires so few ingredients to make, you can easily brew tepache at home or buy it premade in a wide variety of flavors including Orange Tumeric, Mango Chili, and Tamarind Citrus.
Kombucha is a carbonated drink made with sugar, tea, and yeast. Much like with tepache, brewing kombucha relies on the process of fermentation. In order to ferment the tea used as the base of kombucha, a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) is used to transform the sugar in the tea into the sour, fermented beverage known as kombucha.
Kefir is a yogurt-like drink whose name comes from the Turkish word that refers to the “good feeling” one has after drinking it. Kefir is made through both bacterial and yeast fermentation processes. The resulting beverage is a slightly carbonated drink that tastes like a little bit sour and has a texture somewhere in between milk and yogurt.
What can’t probiotic drinks do?
While regularly incorporating probiotic drinks into your diet can have extremely beneficial effects on your overall health, it’s important to remember that they are not miracle drinks.
If you drink a probiotic thinking it will work like medicine to clear out or detox your system, or if a product promises to do so, then know that is contrary to how probiotics really work.
In order for probiotic drinks to be effective, you have to consume them regularly for a sustained period of time to reap all the wonderful benefits of balancing your gut bacteria.
Probiotic drinks can positively affect your health in several ways, from giving your immune system a boost to supporting overall digestive health.
Although they are extremely effective, it’s important to remember that incorporating probiotic drinks into your diet will not have immediate effects.
In order to really reap the benefits of probiotic drinks, you have to consume them regularly for an extended period of time. For this reason, drinks like tepache that you can make at home are a great place to start.