Probiotics are essential to maintaining our healthy gut bacteria. Adding probiotic-rich food to our daily diet helps us maintain a healthy gut which can help benefit an improved digestive system, a better immune system, and healthier-looking skin. Find out what probiotic dense food is missing in your diet.
Talk to anyone health-conscious these days and they’ll probably mention either gut-health or probiotics, and in truth the two often go hand-in-hand.
For those that don’t know, probiotics are live bacteria nicknamed “good bacteria”, and types of yeasts that help with your digestive system health, or more simply your gut health. These can be found in supplements or food. People need probiotics in their daily life to help maintain a healthy gut, but people also need them when taking antibiotics to help replace the bad bacteria that antibiotics often kill off.
There are other forms of good bacteria like prebiotics, but in this article, we’ll focus solely on probiotic-rich foods. foods generally need to undergo a fermentation process, which helps make probiotics and the good bacteria we need.
Having good gut health not only helps with bloating but also can be linked to other health benefits like:
- Weight loss
- Improved digestion
- Boosted immune function
- Healthier looking skin
- Reducing the risk of some diseases
Kefir is a probiotic milk-like drink, made when kefir grains are added to cow’s or goat’s milk. Kefir is one of the best sources of probiotics on the market, and is great in smoothies or even consumed alone. Kefir also has other health benefits like antibacterial properties, is a great source of calcium, and is high in Vitamin K2.
Yogurts are often made from cow or goat milk that has gone through the fermentation process, but you can find plant-based yogurts that still have probiotics in them too. Make sure when buying the yogurt to check that it has active or live cultures. Yogurt is a great side to your breakfast or with granola!
To check if your yogurt has probiotics, look for the National Yogurt Association's (NYA) “Live and Active Culture” seal. This seal tells you that the brand has at least 100 million cultures per gram at the time it's manufactured and certified by the NYA. This can also be found for plant-based yogurts on their websites or written on the yogurt containers!
Yogurt is a great source of protein, helps with digestive health due to probiotics, is high in phosphorus, magnesium, and is rich in Vitamin B.
Sauerkraut is finely sliced cabbage that has been fermented. This is often topped on sausages or even used as a side. Make sure to choose the unpasteurized sauerkraut when you buy it in-store to make sure all the good bacteria are still there and active. Sauerkraut is rich in Vitamin K2, Vitamin C, fiber, and potassium.
Kimchi is a multi-veggie fermented spicy Korean dish. One of the main ingredients is often cabbage! The dish has a mix of seasonings as well, including pepper flakes, garlic, ginger, sugar, green onion, and carrots to name a few. Kimchi is great served on rice, tacos, as a side, or anything you want to add a kick. Fair warning, if you follow a plant-based or vegetarian diet, check if your Kimchi is made with fish sauce as it often is. Kimchi is a great source of Vitamin K, vitamins A, and C due to it being made from Chinese Cabbage. Chinese Cabbage also has at least 10 different minerals and over 34 amino acids making it a nutrient-dense vegetable.
Tempeh is another fermented soybean product (you’ll see a pattern here). It’s prepared in the form of a patty and has a nutty texture that is often used as a protein in plant-based meals. Tempeh is high in protein, calcium, and is one of few sources of vitamin B12 for vegans due to the fermentation process.
Miso is a fermented soybean paste and a popular Japanese seasoning. Sometimes it can be mixed with barley, rice, and rye. This is great as an added flavor to your tofu or meats before it is cooked. Miso is rich in minerals and a good source of Vitamin B, Vitamins E, K, and folic acid.
A fermented black or green tea drink with bacteria/yeast. A fair warning, many of these drinks have high sugar contents. This is a great option as a nightly non-alcoholic drink substitute, or with lunch! Kombucha contains antioxidants and depending on what fruit juices or teas used to ferment it, it can also have the added benefits of green tea, black tea, and various other added ingredients.
Pickles are cucumbers that go through a fermentation process in water and salt (most often). Pickles fermented with vinegar, however, do not contain live probiotics. Pickles are high in Vitamin A, high in electrolytes due to sodium content, and contain antioxidants.
Natto is another fermented soybean product often mixed with rice. Natto is of Japanese origins. Often served for breakfast, Natto can be served with Karshi mustard, tare, or soy sauce, and some even pair it with the Japanese bunching onion. Many say they can’t point to the exact taste of Natto but compare it to a “salty cottage cheese.” Natto is high in Zinc, Vitamin K1, Magnesium, and contains smaller amounts of vitamin B6 and folate acid.
Traditional buttermilk is the leftover liquid from making butter, literally butter-milk. Only this type of buttermilk contains probiotics, and is sometimes nicknamed “grandma’s probiotic.” You can use buttermilk to cook or bake but often this form of buttermilk is not found at normal American grocery stores. Traditional Buttermilk has a great source of calcium, phosphorus, and Vitamin B12.
Although all cheeses are fermented, it is important to look at the labels to see if they have active and live cultures in them. Some of those cheeses are Gouda, Mozzarella, cheddar, and cottage cheese. These are great to top your salads with or to use in your daily meals. The majority of cheeses are great sources of calcium, fat, protein, vitamins A and B12, but it is important to keep in mind that different cheese types vary on ingredients which impacts the varying levels of vitamins and minerals.