Probiotics are often called “friendly bacteria” or “good bacteria” due to the many health benefits they offer. Probiotics help to keep your body, specifically the gut, healthy. There are plenty of probiotic supplements on the market, but if you prefer to stick to natural foods to get your fill, here are 8 probiotic foods that can improve digestion.
Most yogurt brands in the United States contain probiotics, but the organisms should be added after heat processing in order to reap the health benefits. If the label says “live and active cultures,” it’s a safe bet for probiotics.
Kefir is a fermented milk drink, made by adding kefir grains to cow or goat milk. It contains probiotics and it’s been credited with various health benefits. It has been shown to help with digestive problems and protect against infection.
Not only does it contain probiotics, it’s rich in fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin B and Vitamin K. Sauerkraut also contains iron and manganese, along with antioxidants that are important for eye health. Look for unpasteurized sauerkraut as the pasteurization process kills the good bacteria.
Tempeh is made from fermented soybeans, and it has somewhat of a nutty taste. While soybeans are high in phytic acid, a compound that impairs the absorption of minerals, the fermentation process lowers the amount of phytic acid so the body can successfully absorb the minerals in tempeh.
Kimchi contains a lactic acid bacteria known as Lactobacillus kimchii, along with other lactic acid bacteria that may benefit digestive health. It is typically high in vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin K, Vitamin B2 and iron.
Miso is a good source of both protein and fiber, and it’s high in various vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Miso contains Vitamin K, manganese and copper.
Pickles are cucumbers that are left to ferment in a solution of salt and water, using their own lactic acid bacteria to sour. Pickled cucumbers are a great source of healthy probiotic bacteria, which has been shown to improve digestive health.
Similar to tempeh and miso, Natto is another food made from fermented soybeans. It contains a friendly bacteria called Bacillus subtilis. It aids in both bone health and cardiovascular health, it’s rich in protein and Vitamin K2, and some studies suggest that it may help prevent osteoporosis in women.