If you’re looking for a list of the best probiotic foods to eat for gut health, we’ve got you covered!
Probiotics are living microorganisms that live in certain foods. They’re created during the fermentation process, and are similar to ‘good bacteria’ that naturally occur in your digestive system. And since 70% to 80% of our immune system is located in our gut, a diet rich in probiotic foods will help with everything from indigestion and irritable bowl syndrome to arthritis and cancer.
Read on for more information on how probiotic foods can improve your health!
What Are Probiotic Foods?
WebMD defines probiotics as…
‘…live bacteria and yeasts that are good for your health, especially your digestive system. We usually think of these as germs that cause diseases. But your body is full of bacteria, both good and bad. Probiotics are often called “good” or “helpful” bacteria because they help keep your gut healthy.’ (SOURCE)
It may be weird to think about eating living foods or supplements, but probiotics are really important to have in our bodies. From supporting our immune health and helping to decrease inflammation, to improving our digestion and increasing our energy levels, probiotics are more important than many of us realize.
What Are the Health Benefits of Probiotics?
As mentioned above, probiotics offer a lot of health benefits, including:
- Improved immunity
- Better digestive health
- Prevention/relief from diarrhea
- Improved symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress
- Prevention/relief from allergies and symptoms of eczema
What’s Better: Probiotic Foods or Supplements?
If you’re wondering if it’s better to consume probiotic foods versus supplements, the answer is dependent on various factors, including food allergies and preferences, budget restraints, and whether you are trying to treat a specific health complaint (i.e. diarrhea).
PROs of Probiotic Foods:
- Have a high concentration of CFUs (colony forming units) compared to supplements
- Contain other important vitamins, nutrients, minerals, and enzymes not found in supplements
- Less expensive than probiotics
- Probiotic supplements aren’t always regulated, so their safety and efficacy isn’t guaranteed
PROs of Probiotic Supplements:
- Certain formulas are designed to help with specific complaints (i.e. diarrhea, immune health, etc.)
- Many probiotic foods are dairy- and soy-based, whereas supplements are free of allergens
- Food processing/storage can kill off live bacteria in probiotic foods
- More convenient
10 Probiotic Foods to Eat for Gut Health
If you’re looking for a list of probiotic foods to eat for gut health, there are tons of options available to meet different dietary restrictions and food preferences.
Probably the most recognizable food on this list of probiotic foods to eat for gut health, yogurt is a great source of good-for-you bacteria. When buying yogurt (soy or regular) look for the words ‘live and active cultures’ to ensure a high probiotic content. Eat it straight, with granola and fruit, or put it into your smoothies for a healthy kick.
2. Raw cheese
Raw and unpasteurized cheeses, like cheddar, Gouda, Emmental, and Gruyere offer another delicious source of probiotics as well as calcium, vitamin B12, and other important vitamins and minerals. Cheese is also high in protein, making it an excellent food to incorporate into your diet to boost your gut health. Just be sure to check for words like, ‘raw’, ‘probiotic’, and ‘live cultures’ on food labels before buying.
Kombucha is made by fermenting sweetened tea, making it bubbly and refreshing, and is referred to as the ‘Immortal Health Elixir’ by the ancient Chinese. It provides detoxification for your liver, aids digestion and gut health, and even has arthritis treating properties. We’ve written an entire post about kombucha, along with tips to make your own and our favorite recipes, which you can read HERE.
Made by fermenting and pickling cabbage and other veggies, kimchi is a tasty way to get your probiotic kick. It also contains vitamin B, which boosts your energy levels and immune system.
If you’re looking for a list of probiotic foods to eat for gut health, sauerkraut is another great option to consider. It’s made from fermented cabbage and other probiotic vegetables, and it’s high in vitamin C and digestive enzymes. When making sauerkraut, the fermentation process creates optimal conditions to promote the growth of good bacteria to boost your immune system and improve digestion. Pile it on top of a hot dog – it tastes amazing!
6. Apple Cider Vinegar
The acetic acid in apple cider vinegar contains properties that boost your metabolism, suppress your appetite and lower water retention. ACV is full of enzymes and good bacteria, and has been found to help with diabetes, cholesterol, and stomach issues like constipation. On a day to day basis, it helps increase stamina and energy, improve digestion and even defeat bad breath! CLICK HERE for 8 of our favorite apple cider vinegar drinks to improve your immunity!
Miso a Japanese seasoning made by fermenting rye, barley or rice, and it packs lots of benefits. It’s high in vitamin B12 and contains trace levels of minerals including zinc, copper and manganese, which are important for your overall health.
Kefir is a health drink made by adding kefir grains to milk and letting the mixture ferment. The fermentation of the milk breaks down lactose, but you can also find non-dairy kefir using coconut water and fruit juice. It also packs a hefty dose of protein and is great for an on-the-go breakfast.
A popular breakfast food in Japan, natto is fermented soybean that’s high in protein, fiber, and vitamin K2 (which helps increase calcium absorption). Natto is really sticky and slimy, so if you can tolerate soybeans, consider adding it to rice or spreading it on top of a piece of whole wheat toast to make it easier to eat!
If you’re looking for probiotic foods to eat for gut health that don’t contain dairy or soybeans, pickles are a great option to consider as you can add them to a sandwich, burger, or salad, fry them, or enjoy them on their own. Pickles have been said to reduce the symptoms of anxiety, PMS, and bloating, and since they are rich in probiotics, they can improve digestion and prevent stomach ailments as well. When buying pickles, make sure to buy refrigerated options that have words like ‘live’ and ‘active cultures’ printed on the label.
Whether you’re trying to boost your immunity, get your allergies and/or eczema under control, improve your digestion, or treat the symptoms of depression and/or anxiety, I hope this list of probiotic foods to eat for gut health proves useful to you!