We often associate bacteria with various illnesses. But the thing is not all bacteria are harmful to our health. Some of them do wonders for our bodies, and they are called probiotics.
Probiotics are live friendly bacteria and yeasts that support our digestive systems. Otherwise called the “helpful” or “good” bacteria, probiotics aid in digestion, and promote gut health.
Doctors often recommend consuming probiotics to people suffering from digestive problems. But, where can you find probiotics?
Probiotics are present in a range of supplements, but they can be found in certain foods, too. Luckily, we can consume probiotics-rich foods if we want to keep our gut healthy and reap the other benefits that come with them.
If you want to maintain a healthy gut, you can start adding these top ten probiotic foods to your diet.
1. Cottage cheese
Cheese lovers, rejoice! It appears that cheeses are not only great sources of protein and other key nutrients but good bacteria as well.
Some types of cheese such as cheddar, Gouda, mozzarella, and cottage cheese contain probiotics. Cottage cheese, for instance, is recommended to be a part of a healthy diet.
Cottage cheese is a soft, creamy white cheese that has a mild flavor. Unlike other cheeses, cottage cheese is not fermented, which explains why it’s often considered a “fresh” cheese.
It is derived from the curds of pasteurized cow’s milk, having different amounts of milk fat, ranging from regular to reduced-fat and non-fat. Cottage cheese is incredibly low in calories and rich in other essential vitamins and minerals.
Why is cottage cheese good for your gut?
Cottage cheese boasts a rich nutritional profile. It contains calcium, protein, and vitamin B12. Aside from these nutrients, cottage cheese is also packed with probiotics, which promote a healthy gut.
A small study even revealed that this could also positively affect your blood cholesterol levels.
How to add cottage cheese to your diet:
Cottage cheese makes a great base for savory and sweet treats and snacks. You can add it to your morning smoothie, mix it with fruits and nuts for a healthy grub, and use it as a substitute for ricotta cheese in your lasagna.
Kefir is fermented milk traditionally produced using the milk of a goat or cow. To make kefir, “kefir grains” are added to the milk.
These grains are not cereal grains, though, but cultures of yeast and lactic acid bacteria that closely resemble a cauliflower. Kefir is said to improve bone and digestive health and guard the body against infections.
Why is kefir good for your gut?
Kefir possesses several strands of probiotics, including some that are not present in yogurt. It is also rich in calcium and protein and contains low levels of lactose.
Because of this, people who are lactose-intolerant may even be able to enjoy kefir. Although it is best if you will begin with small ounces of kefir especially if it’s your first time to try it.
How to add kefir to your diet:
You can drink a glass of kefir straight up or add it to your smoothies.
Kimchi is a Korean staple that is made through lacto-fermentation (lactic acid fermentation), a process that turns cabbage, radishes, and other veggies into a side dish with a spicy, pungent flavor.
This traditional Korean side dish is packed with vitamins A, B, and C. But it is highly regarded for the healthy bacteria it contains called lactobacilli.
Why is kimchi good for your gut?
Kimchi contains probiotics that help keep your gut healthy. It is also found to help prevent the risk of cancer.
How to add kimchi to your diet:
You can add this Korean side staple to any of your dishes for an extra kick of flavor. Mix it with your rice or enjoy it as it is. You can search for kimchi recipes so you can make your own at home or buy from your local grocery store.
Kombucha is a fermented tea drink that is said to offer a range of health benefits. It is made by fermenting tea with the use of a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY).
Kombucha also has trace amounts of alcohol, which is why it’s best to consume just one bottle a day.
Why is kombucha good for your gut?
Kombucha is not only rich in probiotics but antioxidants as well, which are good for your immune system.
Experts advise sipping kombucha in moderation, though as it contains lactic acid, which when taken in large quantities, may cause damage to your health.
How to add kombucha to your diet:
You can simply enjoy a bottle of kombucha. It comes in various flavors, too.
Miso is a traditional Japanese seasoning made by fermenting soybeans with a type of fungus known as koji, and salt.
Miso can also be produced by combining soybeans with other ingredients such as rye, rice, and barley. This paste has a salty flavor and comes in many varieties such as white, yellow, brown, and red.
Miso also contains significant amounts of fiber and protein, and other essential nutrients, and plant compounds, including choline, potassium, and calcium.
Why is miso good for your gut?
While miso contains high amounts of sodium, it is still a great source of lactobacilli. This gut-healthy paste also possesses magnesium, iron, and phosphorus.
How to add miso to your diet:
Miso paste can be added to your soups. You can also mix it with other ingredients such as sesame oil, soy sauce, and vinegar to make a tasty marinade.
Pickles or pickled cucumbers are produced by fermenting cucumbers with vinegar, brine or other solution. It is best to choose pickles that are made with brine, though, as some made with vinegar don’t offer the friendly bacteria.
Should you decide to make your own pickle at home, it’s recommended to naturally culture cucumber and other veggies such as carrots, beets, and green beans using water, salt, and other spices.
Why is pickle good for your gut?
Just like the other fermented foods, cucumber pickles also offer healthy bacteria. They also contain vitamins A and K, which are essential vitamins for blood and cellular health; and potassium, which contributes to heart health.
Just remember to consume pickles in moderation as they contain high amounts of sodium, too.
How to add pickles to your diet:
You can dash your potato salad with some chopped pickles or add it to your lunch wraps. To make sure you’re getting the good bacteria, purchase pickles that are brined in salt water, not vinegar.
Tempeh is made with fermented soybeans, often formed into a cake-like shape. The fermentation process helps make the soy carbohydrates more digestible, preventing indigestion and gas.
Tempeh has a nutty flavor and a very firm texture. It is also a great source of protein and iron.
Why is tempeh good for your gut?
Tempeh is found to be especially rich in probiotics aside from protein and other important nutrients.
Several compounds found in this probiotic food are also said to have anti-tumor and anti-inflammatory effects. Tempeh also contains healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.
How to add tempeh to your diet:
Since tempeh is also a rich source of protein, you can use it as a meat substitute. You can also add it to stir-fries with veggies, side dishes, and salads.
Sauerkraut or “sour cabbage” is a cabbage finely shredded, and fermented by various lactic acid bacteria. Sauerkraut became a known condiment and side dish in various cultures, especially in Germany.
Due to the fermentation process that it goes through, sauerkraut provides a range of health benefits.
Why is sauerkraut good for your gut?
This popular side dish contains probiotics that promote bacterial balance in the gut. Like other fermented foods, sauerkraut is also packed with enzymes, which aid in digestion and improve nutrient absorption.
How to add sauerkraut to your diet:
The easiest way to incorporate sauerkraut into your diet is by using it as a condiment. You can pair a forkful or two of sauerkraut with almost any dish.
It can also be tossed in a salad, mixed with your eggs for that extra zing, and used as a topping for your sandwiches.
9. Sourdough Bread
Sourdough bread is made by fermenting dough using lactobacilli and yeast. It does not make use of sweeteners nor oils. Mostly made of wheat flour and water, sourdough bread gets its tangy flavor from the live yeast cultures.
Why is sourdough bread good for your gut?
Sourdough bread benefits your gut due to the probiotics it contains. It also makes great food for people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Celiac Disease as its healthy bacteria and wild yeasts help pre-digest starches.
How to add sourdough bread to your diet:
Switch your regular bread with the more nutritious sourdough.
Rounding up the list is no other than the most popular probiotic food: yogurt! Whether it’s Greek, full-fat or low-fat, if it’s got “live active cultures” on the label, it’s great for your gut health.
While plain yogurt is deemed the best choice as it contains less added sugar, experts give a green light to flavored yogurts as well provided you aim for less than 15 grams of added sugar per serving.
It is essential to note that sugar can feed your gut’s bad bacteria.
Why is yogurt good for your gut?
Yogurt is a rich source of probiotic cultures that boost your digestive system.
How to add yogurt to your diet:
You can consume plain yogurt on its own or add seeds and fresh fruits for a hearty breakfast or afternoon snack.
While this article includes ten of the best probiotic foods for gut health, there are many other probiotic-rich foods available out there. Eating probiotic foods for healthy gut may benefit your overall wellness.
If you find it difficult to add these foods to your diet, you can take probiotic supplements instead. Probiotics, whether consumed from supplements or foods, can do wonders for your health.