The Top 10 Probiotic Foods for a Healthy Gut

top 10 probiotic foods

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria found in fermented food and drinks which balance healthy bacteria inside your gut. Evidence has shown that probiotics can alleviate digestive problems, quickly treat certain intestinal infections, relieve depression, prevent obesity and boost immunity. Probiotics are able to fight pathogenic organisms that can cause disease. These live and active cultures can offset the results of antibiotics which are heavily used.

So, what food has probiotics? Incorporate many types of fermented foods and drinks with different strains of probiotics into your diet. Having some variety in foods and drinks with probiotics gives you the most benefits.

Our Top 10 Probiotic Foods for a Healthy Gut

Kombucha

This fermented tea is an excellent choice for digestion, detoxification and provides energy. It also reduces joint pain, boosts immunity, promotes weight loss and helps prevent cancer. Kombucha has a unique sour taste and it’s fizzy.

Avoid purchasing pasteurized kombucha because of its low probiotic level. Instead, pick raw kombucha. However, pregnant women, the elderly and children are encouraged to consume pasteurized products due to their sensitive immune systems.

Kefir

You can drink this dairy product which contains probiotics. Kefir can be used in smoothies and chilled soups because of its creamy texture. Refrain from buying already sweetened kefir because it contains lots of added sugar. You can add pieces of fruit to change its tart and tangy taste.

This creamy probiotic beverage originated in Russia and Turkey. It’s made from fermented cow, goat or sheep’s milk with granules of kefir. Kefir contains 10 to 20 various types of bacteria. Kefir can improve lactose intolerance for some adults according to research featured in the American Journal of Dietetics.

Yogurt

This product with probiotics is an excellent source of protein, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins. It’s considered a superfood. The product has prime nutrition when it’s originated from cows or goats which are grass-fed.

Yogurt contains:

  • Enzymes
  • Vitamin K
  • Vitamin D
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Calcium
  • Whey protein
  • Omega 3-fatty acids

yoghurt berry smoothieIncorporating yogurt into your diet is an easy way to consume probiotics. Live or active cultures are listed on the yogurt containers to indicate the presence of probiotics. Dairy yogurts predominantly have probiotics. Some soy or coconut-based yogurt products contain probiotics. Make sure you consume the yogurt before the expiration date to receive the most benefits. Probiotics are sensitive to heat, so prepare yogurt for a cold recipe.

Yogurt contains billions of bacteria in a serving. Manufacturers add live and active cultures to most dairy yogurt after they pasteurize the milk in order for the bacteria to survive. You have to be aware of how many probiotics are in your yogurt.

Read the labels to compare different brands to find the best option in terms of probiotics and nutrition. The National Yogurt Association has a specific seal that reads “Live & Active Cultures” to certify that it contains about 100 million bacteria per gram. This particular product would have the equivalent of 20 billion cultures in an 8-ounce serving.

Tempeh and Miso Soup

Tempeh and miso paste are fermented soybean-based choices which are ideal for vegans and vegetarians. There are many creative ways to use miso paste such as in a sauce to form a glaze for vegetables. You can blend miso paste with tahini for a salad dressing. Miso reportedly has more than 160 probiotic strains.

Tempeh is described as a more flavourful tofu. Tempeh has more protein and fiber than tofu. To prepare tempeh, cut it into chunks and add it to stir-fry. Make sure you don’t take too long to stir-fry due to the heat. You can also dice tempeh into small pieces for tacos.

Sauerkraut and Kimchi

Sauerkraut and kimchi are cabbage-based and fermented. These products are usually considered side plates or accompaniments in small portions. You still get the benefits from probiotics.

Finding out whether these products contain live cultures can be difficult in most stores. While shopping, check to see if these products have been pasteurized. This process destroys probiotics. Pregnant women should remember to consult a physician since they are immunocompromised and unpasteurized foods has health risks. You will likely have more luck discovering these products at the store which have descriptions on the label like:

  • Live and active cultures
  • Raw
  • Naturally fermented

At restaurants, you aren’t aware of how the products are processed. The heat from preparation could kill the probiotics. Find recipes to make sauerkraut and kimchi on your own.

Pickles

This vegetable is a great source of probiotics. You can make your own pickles at home by using lacto-fermentation. This process does not use vinegar which makes the pickles rich in live and active cultures. Vinegar doesn’t promote the growth of healthy bacteria. Using lactic acid for fermentation is an effective way to preserve pickles.

If you are looking to buy some pickles with probiotics at the store, choose brined water and sea salt varieties. Pickle juice contains electrolytes which alleviate muscle cramps from exercise.

Dark Chocolate

High-quality dark chocolate can contain up to 4 times the probiotics compared to many forms of dairy. Dark chocolate has many health benefits such as natural antioxidants and monounsaturated fat. The best option is organic dark chocolate with raw cacao. This type of dark chocolate does not contain additional sugar, fat and calories compared to milk or white chocolate.

Sourdough Bread

Sourdough starter acts like yeast and has lactobacillus. This type of bread will keep you full for a while because of its low level on the glycemic-index. Sourdough bread won’t give you a sudden spike in energy and crash.

Raw Cheese

Certain types of soft cheeses that contain goat’s milk, sheep’s milk and cow’s milk are rich in probiotics. Buy unpasteurized cheeses to receive the benefits from probiotics. Raw cheese contains high levels of certain strains of probiotics such as:

  • Thermophillus
  • Bifudus
  • Bulgaricus
  • Acidophilus

Probiotic Supplements

string cutter probiotic cheeseTo ensure that you get your probiotics every day, you may want to check out these specific supplements. Before you invest in probiotic supplements, there are a few catches. These products are advertised for general use but the science is in its early stages.

According to a published systematic review last month, short-term use of certain probiotic supplements don’t provide benefits in healthy adults. Unlike drugs, probiotic supplements are not subject to FDA’s standard safety regulations. Unless you’re immunocompromised, probiotic supplements are unlikely to cause harm so most people are free to take them out of interest.

Choose a reliable brand of studied probiotic supplements from clinical trials. Take doses which contain billions of colony-forming units. For guidance, you can see a registered dietitian or speak to your doctor about probiotic supplements. While there are some benefits from probiotics, keep in mind they offer a potential health improvement but not a complete makeover.

Find a suitable probiotic supplement option that works for you. Probiotic supplements come in multiple forms such as liquids and capsules. There are many options based on your preferences for taste, budget and desires for wellbeing.

Eat probiotic foods to improve your diet. Consume probiotic foods and drinks for a balanced diet. Probiotics help reduce digestive problems and improve weight loss. Incorporate probiotics into your lifestyle to improve your overall health.

Samantha Merz

Samantha lives in Vancouver, BC. Samantha is an avid volunteer in the community, enjoys singing and playing badminton.

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