When you hear the word bacteria do you think of something bad, dangerous, and unhealthy? Most people do, but did you know there is good bacteria too? Yep, good bacteria! The good bacteria that lives in your digestive tract is call probiotics, there are 10 times more probiotics in your gut than cells in your entire body. Probiotics are very important in supporting the body’s ability to fight infections and to absorb nutrients. Good bacteria help in protecting the body from pathogens, toxins, and even cancer. Probiotics assist in the absorption of vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids. Healthy bowl movements, bile creation, gastric secretion, and immune function are all supported by having a healthy number of good bacteria or probiotics in your gut (approximately 85% good bacteria and 15% bad bacteria). Learn which food sources to add to your shopping list to naturally increase your body’s probiotics for a healthier gut.
Top 10 Probiotic Foods List
If you want to start consuming probiotic-rich foods, here is a list of the most beneficial probiotic foods:
Similar to yogurt, this fermented dairy product is a unique combination of milk and fermented kefir grains. Kefir has been consumed for well over 3,000 years, and the term kefir was started in Russia and Turkey and means “feeling good.”
Kefir is created by the fermentation of milk by the bacteria, and yeasts in kefir starter break down lactose in the milk. That’s why kefir is suitable for those who are otherwise lactose intolerant.
It has a slightly acidic and tart flavor and contains anywhere from 10 to 34 strains of probiotics. Kefir is similar to yogurt, but because it’s fermented with yeast and more bacteria, the final product is higher in probiotics.
If you want to learn more, check out this article on how kefir benefits your health.
Made from fermented cabbage and other vegetables, sauerkraut is not diverse in probiotics but is high in organic acids (what gives food its sour taste) that support the growth of good bacteria. Sauerkraut is extremely popular in Germany today.
Sauerkraut is high in vitamin C and digestive enzymes. It’s also a good source of natural lactic acid bacteria, such as lactobacillus. Sauerkraut juice has been studied to benefit digestive issues like leaky gut, diarrhea and constipation, and is also effective at helping you kick a cold fast.
Kimchi is a cousin to sauerkraut and is the Korean take on cultured veggies.
It’s created by mixing a main ingredient, such as Chinese cabbage, with a number of other foods and spices, like red pepper flakes, radishes, carrots, garlic, ginger, onion, sea salt and fish sauce. The mixture is then left aside to ferment for three to 14 days.
Made by fermenting the juice of young coconuts with kefir grains, this dairy-free option for kefir has some of the same probiotics as traditional dairy kefir but is typically not as high in probiotics. Still, it has several strains that are great for your health.
Coconut kefir has a great flavor, and you can add a bit of stevia, water and lime juice to it to make a great-tasting drink.
A popular dish in Japan consisting of fermented soybeans, natto contains the extremely powerful probiotic bacillus subtilis, which has been proven to bolster your immune system, support cardiovascular health and enhance digestion of vitamin K2.
Natto can also contain vitamin B12, which is lacking in vegan diets and is one of the highest plant-based sources of protein at 17.7 grams per 100-gram serving size.
Possibly the most popular probiotic food is live cultured yogurt or greek yogurt made from the milk of cows, goats or sheep.
Yogurt in most cases can rank at the top of probiotic foods if it comes from raw, grass-fed animals. The problem is there is a large variation on the quality of yogurts on the market today. It’s recommend when buying yogurt to look for three things: First, that it comes from goat’s, sheep milk or A2 cows milk; second, that it’s grass-fed; and third, that it’s organic.
Kvass is a common fermented beverage in Eastern Europe since ancient times. It was traditionally made by fermenting rye or barley, which gives it its mild flavor. In more recent years, it’s been created using beets, fruit, along with other root vegetables like carrots.
Kvass uses lactobacilli probiotics, which have blood- and liver-cleansing properties.
Miso is one of the mainstays of traditional Japanese medicine and is commonly used in macrobiotic cooking as a digestive regulator. Miso has been a staple in Chinese and Japanese diets dating back approximately 2,500 years.
Today, most of the Japanese population begins the day with a warm bowl of miso soup believed to stimulate the digestive system and energize the body.
Made from fermented soybeans, rice or barley, adding a tablespoon of miso to some hot water makes an excellent, quick, probiotic-rich soup.
The fermentation process can take anywhere from a few days to a couple of years to complete, and the end result is a red, white or dark brown paste with a buttery texture.
Miso soup is famous throughout the world, and it’s very easy to prepare. Simply dissolve a tablespoonful of miso in a pot of water filled with seaweed and other ingredients of your choice.
Kombucha is an effervescent fermentation of black tea that’s started by using a SCOBY, also known as a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast. Kombucha has been around for over 2,000 years and was thought to originate in 212 B.C. in the Far East. It later surfaced in Japan and then spread to Russia.
Many claims have been made about kombucha, but its primarily health benefits include digestive support, increased energy and liver detoxification.
Goat’s milk, sheep’s milk and A2 aged cheeses are particularly high in probiotics, including thermophillus, bifudus, bulgaricus and acidophilus. Always buy raw and not pasteurized or you will not be getting any of the probiotics benefits.