5 Probiotic-Rich Foods to Try

5 Probiotic-Rich Foods to Try

Probiotics refer to live microorganisms, mostly bacteria, that are beneficial to our health. They contribute to the colony of good bacteria in our bodies while helping to fight off the bad bacteria, and in doing so can aid with several bodily functions.

Probiotics are best known to improve gut flora and digestive processes, which could be useful to some who suffer from chronic conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). These microbes also assist with heart and skin health and can help some individuals with mental health conditions feel better.

While probiotics can be consumed as supplements, this is not recommended unless prescribed by a healthcare practitioner. It is preferable to get probiotics from food sources, as you would other nutrients. Many fermented foods (though not all) are great sources of probiotics, some containing between one million to a trillion live microbes per gram. 

Here’s a list of the top probiotic-rich foods that you can add to your diet for an overall wellness boost. As with all things, remember that moderation is key and no one food should be consumed in high amounts.

1. Yoghurt

A regular inclusion in most diets and easily available, yoghurt is high in lactic acid bacteria and bifidobacteria. Although a dairy food, many who are intolerant to milk can still eat yoghurt as it is low in lactose. However, not all yoghurts contain the same amount or quality of live bacteria, so make sure to select those that have active cultures in them.

2. Kimchi

This Korean spiced side dish is made of fermented cabbage and other vegetables, along with seasoning like chilli, salt, ginger and garlic. Apart from being a probiotic, cabbage kimchi is high in iron and vitamins K and B2. Its popularity as a health food means that kimchi is usually available at many supermarkets and international food stores.

3. Kombucha

This fermented tea, which has been brewed for centuries, packs in the benefits of both antioxidant-rich tea and probiotics. It’s made through a week-long fermentation process, after a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) and sugar are added to black or green tea. While kombucha lovers tend to prepare the beverage at home, it is also available at stores like Kibsons and Spinneys.

4. Miso soup

A thick-paste condiment made from soybean, salt and a koji starter, it is most widely enjoyed in the form of a Japanese miso soup. It is loaded with vitamins and minerals, and some varieties are considered a complete protein as they contain all the essential amino acids. The process used to ferment miso ensures that its nutrients are well absorbed by the body.

5. Kefir

Possibly the most beneficial on the list for gut health, kefir (traditionally pronounced ‘kuh-fear’) is high in nutrients and probiotics. A fermented drink typically made from cow’s milk and starter grains, kefir is similar to yoghurt or buttermilk but often considered to be a healthier choice. The beverage also has bioactive compounds like peptides which contribute to health. Non-dairy kefir alternatives are also available, like those made from coconut milk and coconut water.

Other probiotic foods you can try are sauerkraut, pickled cucumbers, traditional buttermilk, sourdough bread, tempeh (a soybean product) and cheeses like Gouda, cottage cheese and cheddar.

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