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Live Well. Eat Well.

Probiotics for Better Health

Pro= “supporting”…biotics= “life”

Where do probiotics come from?

The World Health Organization calls probiotics the “live microorganisms, which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.”

Probiotics are found in the foods we eat; often fermented foods and beverages. Fermenting food is a preservation technique and has been around for a long time. Aside from the foods we eat, probiotics are also becoming more available in supplement form. As with any supplement, however, always talk with your health care team or dietician before taking these. What might work for one person, will not necessarily work for someone else, as different strains have different effects on the body. There are currently no national standards.

You probably are most familiar with yogurt being a probiotic food source. Pasteurization- the heating of milk to destroy certain disease-carrying germs and prevention of souring of milk- also inhibits probiotic growth; therefore, cultured food products that are found in the grocery store (yogurt, kefir, sour cream) contain probiotics that are added after the pasteurization process. Check the label to verify their presence; commonly Lactobacillus, Streptococcus and Bifidobacterium species.

Why are probiotics important?

Probiotics are active, live cultures (bacteria and yeast); the same kind that are found in your gastrointestinal tract. They interfere with colonization of harmful bacteria and help rebalance your intestinal flora. This is important for several reasons. Although research is ongoing, they have been linked to…

  1. Better immunity
  2. Improved digestion
  3. A treatment for irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease
  4. Reducing symptoms of lactose intolerance
  5. Reducing risk of certain cancers
  6. Decreasing prevalence of allergies

What are good food sources of probiotics?

Fermented dairy and non-dairy foods: some yogurts, kefir, sour cream, kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, tempeh, kombucha and soy beverages.

What are prebiotics?

Think of it as breakfast, lunch and dinner for probiotics. They contain a special carbohydrate (FOS, GOS) which promote growth and activity of good bacteria in the gut.

Food sources include: bananas, onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus, artichokes, legumes and whole-wheat foods.

Synbiotics: consuming both prebiotics and probiotics together.

Barbeque Tempeh Sandwiches

Try this savory and sweet recipe which is great all year round. It is easy to adapt so feel free to substitute vegetables and seasonings of your choice or use a bottled barbeque sauce.


2 8-oz packages of tempeh- cut into strips or crumbled

2 T olive oil

½ bell pepper- roughly chopped

½ onion- roughly chopped

2 cloves garlic- minced

2 tsp fresh ginger- peeled, minced

1 can crushed tomatoes

¼ cup honey

1 T Dijon mustard

3 T low-sodium soy sauce

1 T rice vinegar

1 tsp red pepper flakes or ½ tsp cayenne pepper


Heat oil in a large skillet and cook tempeh over medium heat for 10 minutes, turning until browned on both sides. Remove from oil.

To the same oil, add the bell pepper, onion, garlic and ginger. Cover and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.

Add tomatoes, soy sauce, mustard, honey, vinegar and cayenne (or red pepper flakes) to the skillet and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until thickened, about 15 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Add the tempeh back in and cook for an additional 20 minutes or until desired consistency is reached.

Serve on toasted whole-wheat buns or Kaiser rolls with your favorite toppings and enjoy!

Today's post is from Kristin Bogdonas, MPH, CHES. She is a Nutrition and Wellness Educator covering Mercer, Henry, Rock Island and Stark Counties. She specializes in local food/slow food, school health, program planning and food safety/preservation.




University of Maryland Medical Center.

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Probiotics in Pediatrics — Using Friendly Bacteria to Treat Health Conditions By Christen C. Cooper, MS, RD Today’s Dietitian Vol. 12 No. 1 P. 24

Parvez, S., Malik, K.A., Ah Kang, S. and Kim, H.-Y. (2006), Probiotics and their fermented food products are beneficial for health. Journal of Applied Microbiology, 100: 1171–1185. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2672.2006.02963.x