What are Probiotics..? They are the helpful bacteria that live inside of your body. By fighting against harmful bacteria they are able to create a healthy balance that keeps you feeling your best. These friendly bacteria are best known for their ability to prevent and treat indigestion, constipation and diarrhea. But they aren’t a one-trick pony!
Beyond just working in your gut and keeping your digestive system healthy, probiotics give your entire immune system a boost while even helping you to lose weight and manage stress!
It might sound too good to be true but a bacterial balance is truly at the core of good health. Studies have shown that probiotics have a huge range of benefits and can help you reduce allergies, eczema, oral health conditions, obesity, stress, diarrhea, upset stomach, lactose digestion, irritable bowel syndrome, urinary tract infections and inflammatory bowel disease.
Not bad, eh? Now that you know about what probiotics can do, you are probably itching to add more to your diet.
Well, here is a list of 11 probiotic foods that are super healthy!
Yoghurt is one of the best sources of probiotics, which are friendly bacteria that can improve your health. It is made from milk that has been fermented by friendly bacteria, mainly lactic acid bacteria and bifidobacteria. Eating yoghurt is associated with many health benefits, including improved bone health. It is also beneficial for people with high blood pressure.
In children, yoghurt may help reduce the diarrhea caused by antibiotics. It can even help relieve the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Additionally, yoghurt may be suitable for people with lactose intolerance. This is because the bacteria turn some of the lactose into lactic acid, which is also why yoghurt tastes sour.
However, keep in mind that not all yoghurt contains live probiotics. In some cases, the live bacteria have been killed during processing. For this reason, make sure to choose yoghurt with active or live cultures. Also, make sure to always read the label on yoghurt before you buy it. Even if it is labeled low-fat or fat-free, it may still be loaded with high amounts of added sugar.
Kefir is a fermented probiotic milk drink. It is made by adding kefir grains to cow's or goat's milk. Kefir grains are not cereal grains, but rather cultures of lactic acid bacteria and yeast that look a bit like cauliflower. The word kefir allegedly comes from the Turkish word keyif, which means "feeling good" after eating.
Indeed, kefir has been linked to various health benefits. It may improve bone health, help with some digestive problems and protect against infections.
While yogurt is probably the best known probiotic food in the Western diet, kefir is actually a better source. Kefir contains several major strains of friendly bacteria and yeast, making it a diverse and potent probiotic. Like yoghurt, kefir is generally well tolerated by people who are lactose intolerant.
Sauerkraut is finely shredded cabbage that has been fermented by lactic acid bacteria.
It is one of the oldest traditional foods and is popular in many countries, especially in Europe.
Sauerkraut is often used on top of sausages or as a side dish. It has a sour, salty taste and can be stored for months in an airtight container.
In addition to its probiotic qualities, sauerkraut is rich in fiber as well as vitamins C, B and K. It is also high in sodium and contains iron and manganese. Sauerkraut also contains the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which are important for eye health. So carrots aren't the only food that can help you see in the dark.
When purchasing make sure to choose unpasteurized sauerkraut, as pasteurization kills the live and active bacteria, or even better make your own at home.
Tempeh is a fermented soybean product. It forms a firm patty whose flavor is described as nutty, earthy or similar to a mushroom. Tempeh is originally from Indonesia but has become popular worldwide as a high-protein meat substitute.
The fermentation process actually has some surprising effects on its nutritional profile.
Soybeans are typically high in phytic acid, a plant compound that impairs the absorption of minerals like iron and zinc. However, fermentation lowers the amount of phytic acid, which may increase the amount of minerals your body is able to absorb from tempeh.
Fermentation also produces some vitamin B12, a nutrient that soybeans do not contain.
Vitamin B12 is mainly found in animal foods, such as meat, fish, dairy and eggs.
This makes tempeh a great choice for vegetarians as well as anyone looking to add a nutritious probiotic to their diet.
Kimchi is a fermented, spicy Korean side dish. Cabbage is usually the main ingredient, but it can also be made from other vegetables. Kimchi is flavored with a mix of seasonings, such as red chili pepper flakes, garlic, ginger, scallion and salt.
Kimchi contains the lactic acid bacteria Lactobacillus kimchii, as well as other lactic acid bacteria that may benefit digestive health.
Kimchi made from cabbage is high in some vitamins and minerals, including vitamin K, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and iron.
Miso is a Japanese seasoning. It is traditionally made by fermenting soybeans with salt and a type of fungus called koji. Miso can also be made by mixing soybeans with other ingredients, such as barley, rice and rye.
This paste is most often used in miso soup, a popular breakfast food in Japan. Miso is typically salty. You can buy it in many varieties, such as white, yellow, red and brown.
Miso is a good source of protein and fiber. It is also high in various vitamins, minerals and plant compounds, including vitamin K, manganese and copper.
Miso has been linked to some health benefits such as lower risk of breast cancer and reduced risk of stroke.
Kombucha is a fermented black or green tea drink. This popular tea is fermented by a friendly colony of bacteria and yeast. It is consumed in many parts of the world, especially Asia.
The internet abounds with claims about the potential health effects of kombucha. However, high-quality evidence on kombucha is lacking. The studies that exist are animal and test-tube studies, and the results may not apply to humans.
However, because kombucha is fermented with bacteria and yeast, it does probably have health benefits related to its probiotic properties.
Pickles (also known as gherkins) are cucumbers that have been pickled in a solution of salt and water. They are left to ferment for some time, using their own naturally present lactic acid bacteria. This process makes them sour.
Pickled cucumbers are a great source of healthy probiotic bacteria which may improve digestive health. They are low in calories and a good source of vitamin K, an essential nutrient for blood clotting.
Keep in mind that pickles also tend to be high in sodium. It is important to note that pickles made with vinegar do not contain live probiotics.
9. Traditional Buttermilk
The term buttermilk actually refers to a range of fermented dairy drinks. However, there are two main types of buttermilk: traditional and cultured.
Traditional buttermilk is simply the leftover liquid from making butter. Only this version contains probiotics, and it is sometimes called “grandma's probiotic.”
Traditional buttermilk is mainly consumed in India, Nepal and Pakistan.
Cultured buttermilk, commonly found in Western supermarkets, generally does not have any probiotic benefits.
Buttermilk is low in fat and calories but contains several important vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin B12, riboflavin, calcium and phosphorus.
Natto is another fermented soybean product, like tempeh and miso. It contains a bacterial strain called Bacillus subtilis. Natto is a staple in Japanese kitchens. It is typically mixed with rice and served with breakfast.
It has a distinctive smell, slimy texture and strong flavor. Natto is rich in protein and vitamin K2, which is important for bone and cardiovascular health.
A study in older Japanese men found that consuming natto on a regular basis was associated with higher bone mineral density. This is attributed to the high vitamin K2 content of natto .
Other studies suggest that natto may help prevent osteoporosis in women.
11. Some Types of Cheese
Although most types of cheese are fermented, it does not mean that all of them contain probiotics. Therefore, it is important to look for live and active cultures on the food labels.
The good bacteria survive the aging process in some cheeses, including Gouda, mozzarella, cheddar and cottage cheese, so be sure to add these to your meals.
Cheese is highly nutritious and a very good source of protein. It is also rich in important vitamins and minerals, including calcium, vitamin B12, phosphorus and selenium.
Moderate consumption of dairy products such as cheese may even lower the risk of heart disease and osteoporosis.
Probiotic Foods Are Incredibly Healthy
There are many very healthy probiotic foods you can eat. This includes numerous varieties of fermented soybeans, dairy and vegetables. 11 of those I have mentioned above, but there are many more out there. If you can't or won't eat any of these foods, you can also take a probiotic supplement. Probiotics, from both foods and supplements, can have powerful effects on health.