Good Probiotic Drinks to Add to Your Day

Probiotics are a new craze in the health food world, and for good reason. Probiotic drinks have become one of the most popular ways to incorporate probiotics into your diet. This article will go over several good probiotic drinks to add to your day and a few to avoid. 

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An Overview of Probiotic Drinks

Before we dive into specific probiotic drinks, let’s take a look at probiotic drinks in general. Probiotics are “good” bacteria that can give both your immune and digestive systems a boost. There’s a delicate ecosystem of bacteria in your gut that is known as your gut microbiome. When you’re healthy, there are far more “good” bacteria in your gut than there are “bad” bacteria. However, if you’re fighting off a bacterial infection or recovering from a dose of antibiotics, the “bad” bacteria can outweigh the good.

That’s where probiotics come in. Probiotics help replenish the level of “good” bacteria in your gut again to help you reach and maintain a healthy bacterial equilibrium in your gut. This is especially important because several studies have shown a strong correlation between your gut health and overall health

You can incorporate probiotics into your diet in several ways, such as drinks and supplements. Probiotics are also naturally found in several foods such as yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, and most fermented products. 

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Health Benefits 

There are several health benefits to probiotic drinks. Alongside keeping the balance of bacteria in your gut at a healthy level, probiotics can help treat diarrhea, especially if the diarrhea is induced by antibiotic usage.

Given the link between gut health and overall health, there is also evidence to suggest that probiotics might give your immune system a boost by stopping the growth of harmful bacteria in the gut that could lead to infection. 

It is also thought that probiotics can help keep your heart healthy by performing two important tasks. They can lower your LDL cholesterol levels and blood pressure levels. Bile is a substance made up mostly of cholesterol that is commonly found in the gut. The lactic acid present in several probiotic drinks can break down this bile, lowering your overall cholesterol levels. 

Aside from these health benefits, probiotics also might be able to help you lose weight, specifically belly fat, reduce symptoms of disorders such as Crohn’s disease, and reduce the severity of allergy symptoms. 

Are They Alcoholic?

Although the process of fermentation naturally produces some alcohol, it does not produce enough to make probiotic drinks alcoholic in the same way as wine, beer, and liquor. 

What Makes A Good Probiotic Drink?

When you’re buying a probiotic drink, there are a few things you should pay attention to on the label. First, try to go for probiotic drinks that contain several different strains of bacteria. Getting a variety of bacterial strains is beneficial because it increases the likelihood of the probiotic’s effectiveness. Given that probiotics are live bacteria, they are only effective if they are still living by the time you ingest them. Choosing a probiotic drink with a variety of bacterial strains increases your likelihood of ingesting live bacteria because different strains of bacteria survive in different conditions. 

Also, make sure to check out the amount of sugar in your probiotic drink before buying it. Given that fermentation creates a somewhat sour flavor, some brands of probiotic drinks add lots of sugar to their product in order to eliminate the sour flavor. Although this gives the drinks a nice sweet twist, it is far better to find a product that is made with naturally sweet products rather than added sugar

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Good Probiotic Drinks 

Now that we’ve covered a bit of the general information concerning probiotic drinks, let’s take a look at some of the probiotic drinks you should consider incorporating into your diet. 

Kombucha 

Kombucha is a probiotic drink made from fermented black or green tea. As a wildly popular drink on the health food scene, there are several different varieties of kombucha readily available at most grocery stores in the United States. Juice, spices, and fruit are often added to kombucha to enhance its strong natural flavor that is sour and bitter. 

It is thought that kombucha originated in China, perhaps in the Bohai Sea district. Although kombucha has its origins in China, it was enjoyed in Russia as early as 1900. From there, it was imported to Europe and then the United States. Kombucha has become incredibly popular in the US in recent years, seeing as it has been marketed as both a health drink and an alternative to beer and liquor.  

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Tepache 

Tepache is a traditional Mexican beverage made from the fermented rinds of pineapples. Traditionally, tepache is flavored with cinnamon and sugar, but nowadays, it is possible to find tepache flavored with a wide variety of fruits and spices. Much less strong than kombucha, tepache is has a sweet, citrusy flavor that makes it refreshing and easy to drink. 

Although the exact origins of tepache are unknown, it is thought to have originated in pre-Columbian Mexico. Given that the Spaniards never tried to tax and standardize the tepache recipe, as they did with many other native drinks and dishes, it has been passed down orally for generations. Therefore, there are several different regional variations of tepache. That being said, the drinks always have one thing in common: a delicious, tropical flavor and impressive health benefits. 

Kefir 

Another popular probiotic drink is kefir, a fermented beverage made from kefir grains. This white, creamy beverage tastes like a thin yogurt and has a texture slightly thicker than milk. Although plain kefir is very popular, it is also often flavored with fruits such as strawberries and blueberries, much like yogurt. 

Like tepache, the exact origins of kefir are unknown but are believed to have originated in Russia and eastern Europe. From there, it spread to Europe and then America. Kefir can be made with milk from cows, goats, and sheep, so it is relatively easy to produce anywhere there is livestock. 

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Tibicos 

Although lesser known than kombucha, tepache, and kefir, another tasty probiotic drink is tibicos, also known as “water kefir.” As you might have guessed, tibicos is made from water and a SCOBY, a combination of bacteria and yeast that allow for fermentation. Tibicos is a great option for you if you’re looking for a probiotic drink that is neither milk-based nor tea-based such as kefir and kombucha. 

Given that tibicos is so easy to make, it is usually prepared at home. You can find tibicos cultures all over the world, and no two tibicos cultures are exactly the same. The tibicos grains used for fermentation are found in the Opuntia cactus, a plant native to Mexico. 

Boza 

Another lesser-known probiotic drink is boza, also known as bosa. This fermented beverage is popular in North Africa, Asia, and Southern Europe. As a malt beverage, boza can be made from several different grains, including corn, wheat, millet, or barley. To make boza, any of these grains or a combination of grains are fermented. The result is a thick malt beverage with a slightly acidic and sweet flavor. 

As with most traditional probiotic drinks, boza has a long history. It is thought that the first fermented grain drinks were made in Anatolia and Mesopotamia as early as the 8th or 9th millennia BCE. 

Conclusion

Although kombucha is often talked about as the only probiotic drink, there are several good probiotic drinks out there. Probiotic drinks are delicious beverages you can incorporate into your daily diet to give your immune and digestive systems a boost. All you have to do is find your favorite one!

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Sources:

Gut Bacteria in Health and Disease | NCBI

Live probiotics protect intestinal epithelial cells from the effects of infection with enteroinvasive Escherichia coli (EIEC) | NCBI

The sweet danger of sugar | Harvard

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