Whether you want it or not, the germs live in and around you all the time. They help you with your metabolism, immunity, and digestion, and without them, you become prone to allergies along with various autoimmune and chronic diseases.
If you think you should take supplements and eat yogurt to boost your probiotic intake, you’re mistaken. There are plenty of amazingly tasty and healthy probiotic rich foods that you can enjoy to the fullest.
Of course, live-cultured yogurt is a top source of natural probiotics. Unfortunately, most store-bought versions are loaded with sugars, additives, artificial flavors, and other chemicals that do more harm than good. It’s best to make your own yogurt at home and add honey or fresh berries to it, if you crave something sweet. If you don’t feel like making your own yogurt, look for organic unsweetened Greek yogurt. Apart from friendly bacteria, it contains calcium (18% of recommended daily intake in one container) that promotes bone health and keeps your teeth strong.
Sauerkraut is made from fermented cabbage and carrots and high in healthy live cultures. Not only does sauerkraut help to improve your digestive system and boost your immunity, but it can also reduce allergy symptoms. Apart from probiotics, sauerkraut is loaded with vitamins A, C, E, and B vitamins. Plus, it’s an abundant source of often forgotten vitamin K, which actually regulates normal blood clotting, decreases bone loss, and lowers the risk of bone fractures.
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Cabbage has been also shown to have high amounts of glucosinolate, a substance that helps to maintain normal cell development and growth. Furthermore, sauerkraut contains phytonutrient antioxidants that are responsible for keeping a healthy inflammatory response in the body. So much health benefits!
Miso soup is typically used in macrobiotic cooking as a powerful digestive regulator and it’s one the staples of traditional Japanese medicine. Miso soup is made from fermented barley, beans, rye, or rice, and must be consumed in moderation to avoid the side effects. To make this probiotic-rich soup, add a tablespoon of miso to a bowl of hot water with some veggies and parsley. Miso has powerful anti-cancer effects, reduces blood pressure, and reduces the risk for prostate, breast, colon, and lung cancers.
A form of fermented tea, kombucha is a huge source of healthy gut bacteria. Kombucha is believed to help enhance overall well-being, boost energy, and aids in weight loss. If you have problems with candida, though, it’s best to avoid kombucha and eat other, safer probiotic-rich foods, like kefir. Even if you don’t have any health problems, try to limit your kombucha consumption to one cup only.
Highly similar to live-cultured yogurt, kefir is a fermented dairy drink that is traditionally made of milk, but store-bought versions also include fermented kefir grains. Rich in Bifidus and lactobacilli bacteria, kefir is fortified with antioxidants too. Choose organic, low-fat version for maximum health benefits. If you have trouble drinking kefir (let’s be honest, it tastes not so good), consider using it as a base for your smoothies. Blend some fresh or frozen berries with kefir for an instant probiotic and antioxidant boost.
For those living in or traveling to Hawaii, poi must become a staple food as it’s a great source of probiotics. Poi contains more beneficial bacteria than store-bought yogurt and is packed with good germs that promote a good gut health. Unfortunately, you won’t find poi in your nearest grocery store, but you can try making your own version at home.
Often served alongside main meals, kimchi is an Asian kind of pickled sauerkraut. Unlike standard sauerkraut, kimchi is extremely sour and spicy, so moderation is a must. There are over 300 different varieties of kimchi to consider, so you can choose the one you like most. Kimchi is plentiful in probiotics as well as other nutrients like iron, calcium, beta-carotene, B vitamins, and vitamins A and C. If you have trouble handling the spice, try pickles or green olives instead.
Pickles and pickle juice are both great sources of natural probiotics. They have huge microbial value and help you improve your digestive health, increase energy levels, and enable your immunity to ward off diseases. Cucumbers contain an abundance of vitamin C, vitamin K (even before fermenting), pantothenic acid or vitamin B5, and essential minerals such as potassium, magnesium, and manganese. They also contain beneficial lignans and other phytonutrients that help to maintain healthy cell development and growth.
If you’re vegan or vegetarian, you may get probiotics from tempeh. Even though soy products are mostly GMO and unhealthy, tempeh has a different story. It’s a fermented, probiotic-high grain made from ordinary soy beans. Organic version of tempeh contains vitamin B12, protein, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, and vitamin B6.
Are you surprised? While dark chocolate is a renowned source of antioxidants, it’s a source of prebiotics and probiotics alike. The researchers from the American Chemical Society state that prebiotics in dark chocolate are a fuel for the microbes in the gut, which convert the chocolate into potent anti-inflammatory compounds. That’s because dark chocolate is a fermented food. Look for the bar with a cacao content of over 70 percent and eat no more than an ounce of it. You can also add two tablespoons of organic, raw cocoa powder to your yogurt for a double dose of probiotics.
Before you call it crazy, read till the end. Yes, green peas are among the top probiotic-rich foods out there. And it was scientifically proven. A report published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology (2014) stated that green peas contain a potent probiotic, Leuconostoc mesenteroides, which is often associated with fermentation at low temperatures.
Since those green olives undergo a natural fermentation, they do contain two strains of live cultures, namely Lactobacillus pentosus and Lactobacillus plantarum. These live cultures help to relieve and prevent bloating and balance the gut bugs, especially in individuals with irritable bowel syndrome. Lactobacillus plantarum is also an effective tool to get a flat belly.
Sourdough is the fermentation process where friendly bacteria and wild yeast break down the sugar and gluten in the wheat flour, turning it into healthy vitamins, minerals, and proteins. Since the starches from the grains are mostly predigested by the bacteria, sourdough bread is a lot easier to digest than other kinds of white breads.
Not all types of cottage cheeses contain probiotics, but if you make your own cottage cheese, you’ll definitely consume some live and active cultures. If cottage cheese isn’t your option, consider eating aged, soft cheeses, like gouda, cheddar, swiss, and parmesan, which are great sources of probiotics. The longer the soft cheese ages, the more friendly bacteria you get.
A traditional drink in India that’s traditionally enjoyed before dinner, lassi is made of water, yogurt, and fruit and contains plenty of probiotics. The majority of homemade lassi recipes feature sugar and other sweeteners, but if you watch your diet, it’s best to opt for a sugar-free version of lassi. You can even experiment a little bit and try making lassi out of Greek yogurt to increase your calcium intake at the same time.
Turning to healthy foods for fueling your gut with “good” or beneficial bacteria isn’t anything new these days. Yet, many people have turned to the supplement to increase their probiotic intake because they’re not aware of these 14 best probiotic foods. Most of these foods provide significant amounts of all-natural probiotics, reducing your needs of taking the pill. If you have digestive issues and weak immune system, consider incorporating some of these probiotic-rich foods into your weekly meal plan.