Probiotics, or “good” bacteria, are essential in maintaining a healthy gut and a strong immune system. That means that in order to stay healthy, you need to be consuming probiotic-rich foods for better gut health.
Better gut health means better overall health.
The good bacteria that live in your gut are responsible for assisting in nutrient absorption and in fighting off infection. They produce vitamin B12, butyrate, and vitamin K2 plus kick out bad bacteria, and stimulate secretion of IgA and regulatory T-cells.
These are 12 of our top choices probiotic-rich foods you should be eating for better gut health.
Yogurt is the most popular and most consumed probiotic-rich food. Yogurt is a food loved by children and adults alike, and has many great health benefits.
Children with diarrhea caused by antibiotics and people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can benefit from the probiotics in yogurt.
The best option when choosing a yogurt is to buy Greek yogurt which has the highest protein value and lowest sugar content of all yogurts.
Make sure that the yogurt you buy is not heat-treated after fermentation—this kills the beneficial active cultures. If the yogurt is labeled with “live active cultures,” you’re good to go!
TWEETABLEMake sure that the yogurt you buy is not heat-treated after fermentation—this kills the beneficial active cultures. Click To Tweet
Kefir is another dairy product—not quite milk and not quite yogurt—that contains a lot of probiotics. Kefir is made by adding kefir grains to cows’ milk or goats’ milk.
Kefir contains more probiotics than yogurt, and is linked to bone health and gut health. It is also tolerated well by people who are lactose intolerant.
This is a great food to add to your diet if you’re looking to increase your probiotic intake, as it contains varied strains of healthy bacteria and yeast.
Sauerkraut is cabbage that has been fermented by lactic acid and bacteria. It contains many nutrients including fiber, vitamins B, C and K, iron, and manganese. It is also a great source of antioxidants.
Many commercially available cans and jars of sauerkraut are pasteurized and prepared in vinegar instead of fermented in lactic acid. When choosing sauerkraut for probiotic benefits, make sure it’s unpasteurized, as the pasteurization process kills all that healthy bacteria.
Kimchi is a traditional Korean dish made from vegetables. Kimchi can be fermented or not, so make sure to get the fermented kind if you want the probiotics
Kimchi is fermented with lactic acid bacteria lactobacillus kimchii which benefits digestive health, and may even slim you down!
TWEETABLEKimchi is fermented with lactic acid bacteria lactobacillus kimchii which benefits digestive health Click To Tweet
Microalgae include the superfoods spirulina, chlorella, and other blue-green algae. These ocean plants do not contain probiotics, but they do act as prebiotics. In other words, they feed the probiotics that are living in your gut.
Prebiotics are just as important as probiotics, because they nourish probiotics, allowing them to properly do their job. Prebiotics like spirulina are vital for gastrointestinal health.
Natto is a traditional Japanese food made from soybeans fermented with Bacillus subtilis. This bacteria has many health benefits including boosting the immune system and supporting cardiovascular health.
Bacillus subtilis creates an enzyme called nattokinase which may have cancer-fighting benefits.
Natto is also rich in vitamin K2 which is vital to bone health. It is an excellent source of protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
7. Miso Soup
Speaking of traditional Japanese foods—miso is another Japanese staple full of great probiotics Lactobacilli and bifidus bacteria. Miso is made from fermented soybeans, barley, rye, or rice. A little miso paste in stock makes a quick miso soup.
There are many benefits to consuming miso. In addition to the great probiotics it has that improve gut health, miso can also lower blood pressure, fight cancer, and provide many nutrients including B vitamins, vitamin K, copper, phosphorus, and manganese.
TWEETABLEIn addition to the great probiotics it has that improve gut health, miso can also lower blood pressure, fight cancer, and provide many nutrients Click To Tweet
Kombucha is a fizzy drink made from black or green tea fermented with SCOBY, a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast.
Kombucha contains a lot of healthy probiotics that support gut health. It is also believed to increase your energy levels and overall wellbeing, as well as aid in weight loss.
Tempeh is another fermented soybean product—but this one originates from Indonesia. When the soybeans ferment with the yeast starter, they form a cake-like consistency that can be used as a meat substitute.
Since tempeh has a neutral flavor, it can be seasoned in many different ways. It is great for gut-health due to the probiotics it contains, but it also has plenty of protein, vitamins, and minerals that you can benefit from as well.
Pickles made with lacto-fermentation will contain lots of great probiotics. The problem is that many pickles you’ll find on the shelves are not fermented, rather just pickled in vinegar.
The best way to get probiotics from pickles would be to ferment them at home with a starter—that way you know they are not pasteurized.
11. Raw Cheese
Unpasteurized soft cheeses contain probiotics. The cheeses are made when lactic acid bacterial culture is added to milk which causes it to form curds and whey.
Cheeses that contain healthy bacteria include cottage cheese, Gouda, mozzarella, and cheddar. They also contain protein, calcium, vitamin B12, phosphorus, and selenium.
TWEETABLECheeses that contain healthy bacteria include cottage cheese, Gouda, mozzarella, and cheddar Click To Tweet
Kvass is a traditional Russian fermented drink made from rye bread. However, more recently, beet Kvass has hit the health-food stores as a probiotic-rich food for gut health. Beet Kvass is made with beets and whey which speeds the lacto-fermentation process.
Aside from its abundant array of probiotics, beet Kvass has other amazing benefits including liver detox and cancer prevention due to its powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
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A Final Word From Energetic Lifestyle
Poor gut health can affect so much more than your digestive tract. Did you know that over 40 diseases have been linked to bacterial imbalance?
With the widespread use of antibiotics today, good bacteria are being flushed out of our systems more than ever—when they are vital in maintaining our overall health.
In order to sustain healthy bacterial balance in your gut, eat the foods mentioned above, and you’ll benefit from a stronger immune system, improved digestion, increased energy, healthier skin, lower inflammation, and even weight loss!
Which of the probiotic-rich foods in our list is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!