The Best Probiotic Foods For a Healthy and Happy Gut
If you’re looking to supercharge your health and transform your gut, look no further than incorporating powerful probiotics into your diet. These tiny superheroes of the digestive system are live microorganisms that work wonders inside our bodies. By introducing beneficial bacteria strains in adequate amounts into our gastrointestinal tract, probiotics promote a harmonious balance and help strengthen our gut system. Probiotics not only improve digestion and nutrient absorption, but they also help alleviate various digestive problems like bloating, irritable bowel syndrome, and ulcerative colitis.
According to the National Institute of Health, probiotics have indicated numerous beneficial effects on your brain, gut, and body. These benefits include improvement in skin health, improvement in symptoms of lactose intolerance, improving your digestion and gut health, strengthening your immune system, and reduction in symptoms of depression. Some of the most popular probiotic strains include: Lactobacillus reuteri, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus bulgaricus, Streptococcus thermophilus, Bacillus subtilis, Bifidobacterium bifidum, and Saccharomyces boulardii.
Although consuming probiotic supplements has become a popular way to get healthy gut microbiota, there are many ways to get probiotics naturally through fermented natural foods. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about how to get these powerful probiotics incorporated into your healthy diet.
If you have a busy schedule, finding time to shop for healthy probiotic foods can be challenging. Luckily, services like Hungryroot offer healthy groceries delivered right to your doorstep. With Hungryroot, you can say goodbye to the hassle of grocery shopping and hello to a wide selection of high-quality options. What sets Hungryroot apart is their personalized approach – take their quiz, share your nutrition goals, and get snack and recipe recommendations curated just for you. Let Hungryroot take care of your probiotic and nutritional needs, so you can focus on living your best life!
Best Probiotic Foods
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple Cider Vinegar is a type of vinegar made from fermented apple juice. It's created in a two-step process. First, apples are crushed or juiced and the liquid goes through a fermentation process with active yeast. The yeast converts the natural sugars into alcohol. In the second step, beneficial bacteria are added to the alcohol further fermenting it and transforming it into acetic acid, the main active compound in vinegar.
Apple cider vinegar is commonly used in cooking, baking, for salad dressings, and is a natural remedy for various health conditions. According to the National Institute of Health, Apple cider vinegar has been associated with many health benefits: improving cholesterol and insulin sensitivity and promoting weight loss. If you're looking for an easy way to incorporate probiotic bacteria naturally, consider incorporating apple cider vinegar into your daily meals.
Yogurt is one of the most popular ways to get probiotics! Yogurt is a dairy product made by fermenting milk with a bacterial yogurt culture, typically with lactic acid bacteria or bifidobacteria.
Consuming yogurt has been associated with multiple health benefits including promoting bone health and improving gut health. In a study done in 2014, researchers found that yogurt may protect against type 2 diabetes. Other studies have also suggested that probiotic yogurts can protect children and pregnant women against the effects of heavy metal exposure.
Yogurt is made by using fresh milk that’s fermented with live bacteria cultures that convert lactose, a natural sugar found in milk, into lactic acid which is what gives yogurt its unique flavor.
Alongside probiotics, yogurt is packed with essential nutrients like calcium, vitamins B6 and B12, potassium, and magnesium.
While yogurt is a nutrient powerhouse, some yogurts sold at grocery stores can contain added flavors, sugars, and preservatives. Additionally, not all yogurts come with live cultures. Make sure to look for a label that specifically states that the yogurt has active cultures and is an active probiotic product.
Some of our favorite probiotic yogurts include Ellenos Passion Fruit Greek Yogurt, Bellwether Farms Organic Blackberry Yogurt Cup, and Siggi’s Non-Fat Mixed Berry + Acai Yogurt.
Kefir is a fermented probiotic dairy product that's been consumed for centuries due to its numerous health benefits. It's made by fermenting milk with kefir grains, which are a combination of lactic acid bacteria and yeast cultures. The grains resemble small, gelatinous clumps and contain a symbiotic mixture of live microorganisms. During the fermentation process, the microorganisms in the kefir grains break down the lactose in milk and convert it into lactic acid which gives kefir its tart flavor. Unlike yogurt, kefir is fermented with more yeast and bacteria which results in a higher level of probiotics.
Kefir is well known for its probiotic content providing a rich source of beneficial bacteria that promote a healthy gut microbiome. Kefir has also been associated with improvement in bone health and its protective benefits against bacterial infections. This fermented drink is often enjoyed as a fun and nutritious alternative to regular milk and yogurt.
Tempeh is a mouthwatering culinary creation originating from Indonesia, where it has been cherished for centuries. Tempeh is a fermented soybean product that results in a unique texture, nutty and rich flavor, and an abundance of nutritional benefits. The fermentation process begins by mixing cooked soybeans with a tempeh starter culture that contains beneficial bacteria. This culture transforms the soybeans into a dense, cake-like structure. As a result, tempeh becomes a natural source of probiotics supporting a healthy gut microbiome.
Fermenting soybeans also produces additional Vitamin B12, a nutrient absent from soybeans alone. This makes tempeh an excellent Vitamin B12 alternative for vegetarians since Vitamin B12 is typically found in animal products.
Tempeh can be eaten raw or cooked in a flavorful sauce or seasoning to enhance its flavor and taste. Whether you’re a seasoned plant-based enthusiast or simply looking to increase your probiotic intake, tempeh is a great option to incorporate into your weekly meals.
Some of our favorite tempeh options include Lightlife Organic Smoky Bacon Tempeh Strips and Lightlife Organic Buffalo Tempeh Strips.
Kimchi, originating from Korea, is a vibrant and tart traditional dish that has gained global notoriety. At its core, Kimchi is a fermented vegetable medley, typically made from cabbage, radishes, and a variety of seasonings. The fermentation process begins by salting the vegetables, allowing the beneficial bacteria (typically lactic acid bacteria like Lactobacillus kimchii) to convert sugars into lactic acid to create a zesty flavor.
Kimchi is a powerhouse when it comes to its probiotic profile and is easy to incorporate into your daily diet. As a condiment, it can add a zesty punch to any meal, be it rice, noodles, or sandwiches. Its bold flavors can also be incorporated into stir-fries, soups, or stews. Whether you prefer it spicy or mild, kimchi offers a range of flavors to suit your taste buds and your gut microbiome!
Kvass, a traditional fermented beverage originating from Eastern Europe, holds a special place in the hearts of its enthusiasts. Kvass is traditionally made by fermenting rye bread or other whole grains with water and a starter culture. The starter culture consists of wild yeast and lactic acid bacteria. This unique combination of live microorganisms works together to transform the carbohydrates in the grains into lactic acid and carbon dioxide, giving kvass its distinct tangy flavor and texture.
Enjoy a glass of kvass similar to how you’d enjoy a glass of kombucha. Kvass has a mildly sour yet slightly sweet taste, with variations depending on the ingredients used. Some enjoy it as a chilled beverage while others use it as a base for cocktails!
Certain Types of Cheeses
It may come as a surprise, but most types of cheese are fermented and contain a host of probiotics and other nutrients. Although not all fermented cheeses contain probiotics, there are certain varieties where the beneficial bacteria survive the aging process.
If you’re a cheese lover, consider incorporating cheeses like gouda, mozzarella, aged cheddar cheese, and cottage cheese into your diet. In addition to probiotics, cheeses are nutritional powerhouses and are great sources of protein, calcium, vitamin B12, and phosphorus.
Miso, a beloved staple of Japanese cuisine, is a flavorful paste renowned for its umami-rich taste. Made from fermented soybeans, rice, or barley, and a special culture called koji, miso undergoes a fermentation process that yields its distinctive flavor. The koji culture, consisting of beneficial mold Aspergillus oryzae, is responsible for breaking down the complex carbohydrates and proteins in soybeans and grains, transforming them into a tasty, rich paste.
What sets Miso apart is its impressive probiotic profile. The fermentation process introduces various strains of bacteria, primarily Lactobacillus and Pediococcus. These probiotics give Miso its unique flavors, texture, and health benefits.
This versatile ingredient can be used in many ways adding depth and complexity to culinary dishes. From miso soup, a comforting classic, to marinades and dressings for vegetables and meats, miso brings a savory note to any meal.
Kombucha is a sparkling, zesty beverage that’s become popular in recent years amongst health enthusiasts. Kombucha starts its life as a sweetened tea infused with a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY). This magical SCOBY, resembling a jelly-like disc, works its fermentation magic by feeding on sugars in the tea, converting them into organic acids, vitamins, enzymes, and probiotics.
Some of the most prominent probiotic strains found in kombucha include Lactobacillus, Acetobacter, and Saccharomyces. Additionally, kombucha contains organic acids like acetic acid and gluconic acid, which provide potential antimicrobial and detoxifying properties.
With a range of flavors to explore, from tangy to floral to earthy, kombucha can be enjoyed straight from the bottle or used as a base for creative mocktails and spritzes. Our all-time favorite is Better Booch’s Morning Glory Black Tea Kombucha to start your day off right. It’s a unique and fun way to nourish your gut with beneficial probiotics.
Prebiotics vs. Probiotics
Probiotics are oftentimes confused with prebiotics. While probiotics are live microorganisms, like bacteria and yeast, prebiotics are non-digestible fibers found in certain foods. Prebiotics pass through your digestive system intact, reaching the colon, where they are fermented by beneficial bacteria. Excellent sources of prebiotics include foods like onions, garlic, bananas, oats, and asparagus.
Adding Probiotic Foods to Your Diet
Incorporating probiotic-rich foods into your diet is a powerful step towards cultivating a thriving gut microbiome and promoting overall health. These living microorganisms offer a wide array of benefits, from supporting digestion and nutrient absorption to boosting immune function and even influencing mental well-being.
By regularly consuming probiotic foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, and miso, you can introduce a diverse range of beneficial bacteria into your gut. These friendly microbes work symbiotically to maintain a balanced gut ecosystem, fostering optimal health from the inside out. So, embrace the wonders of probiotic foods and embark on a journey towards a healthier, happier you by nourishing your gut with the remarkable power of these beneficial microorganisms.
Ready to live a healthy lifestyle and incorporate more probiotic foods into your diet? Hungryroot offers a comprehensive selection of healthy groceries and probiotic treats delivered straight to your doorstep. With over 2,000+ chef-created recipes, you’ll discover a treasure trove of nutrient-rich dishes that’ll leave your gut craving for more. Take their personalized quiz to unlock snack and recipe recommendations tailored to your nutritional goals!