Improving gut health is so important given its connection to overall wellbeing, and probiotics play an integral role in enhancing healthy bacteria in the gut. While probiotics can be taken in supplement form, there are healthy and delicious foods that are rich in these natural immune-boosting microbes that will benefit your diet.
Here’s a list of 10 probiotic-rich foods to consider:
- Yogurt – Probably the most widely-known and frequently consumed probiotic food is yogurt. It is easily found in any grocery store and can safely be eaten by people of all ages on a daily basis to help add beneficial bacteria back into the gut.
- Sauerkraut – Another food rich in probiotics that is widely available in stores is sauerkraut. Made simply from cabbage and salt, it’s incredibly easy to make yourself. It contains more beneficial lactobacillus bacteria than yogurt and is said to have anti-cancer properties.
- Kimchi – Filled with probiotic lactic acid bacteria, this traditional food is eaten with gusto by Asian cultures and has been gaining popularity in North America. In addition to its probiotic properties, the Journal of Medicinal Food notes that kimchi provides a number of health benefits including: anti-cancer, anti-obesity, anti-constipation, cholesterol reduction, fibrolytic effect, antioxidative and anti-aging properties, and promotes colorectal, brain, immune, and skin health.
- Dark Chocolate – Because dark chocolate is a fermented food, it contains beneficial probiotics. There are also several compounds in cocoa that research has shown to help with everything from boosting skin health and blood flow, to reducing inflammation, blood pressure, and risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Kombucha – Kombucha has become a mainstream drink choice thanks to its high level of probiotics. Several flavors can be found in most major retailers, but it’s another food that’s easy to make yourself. Those who are immunocompromised should steer clear though due to a slight alcohol content and potential for food safety issues.
- Miso – This staple of Asian cultures is rich in flavor and probiotics, due to being made from fermented soybeans. Miso also contains a number of trace vitamins and minerals including vitamins E, K, and B, as well as copper and zinc.
- Kefir – Similar to yogurt, kefir is a fermented dairy food that has a consistency perfect for drinking. It packs a powerful probiotic punch and has a slightly effervescent mouthfeel, thanks to the 10-20 different bacteria strains that are typically used in its production.
- Tempeh – Another soy-based food, tempeh is a popular protein choice for vegetarians and has been a traditional food of Asian cultures for generations. It’s also an excellent non-dairy source of iron and calcium.
- Pickles – You probably eat them all the time without realizing that fermented pickles are a food source of probiotics. Thanks to the vinegar used in the pickling process, both the pickles and their juice can help increase levels of healthy bacteria in your gut.
- Sourdough bread – Not only does sourdough contain beneficial probiotic bacteria, but the unique fermentation process that occurs in its production allows it to be more easily digested by those with gluten sensitivities.