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5 Natural Probiotic Foods For A Healthy Gut And Stronger Immunity

Probiotic Foods For Healthy Gut

Considered a superfood, probiotics are food products fermented by lactic acid bacteria. They play a major role in modulating the gut flora, thereby managing many gut disorders. Yogurt, buttermilk, tempeh, miso, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, and cheese are some probiotics that provide various health benefits. It's easy to make them at home.

Benefits Of Probiotics


  • Improves immunity by boosting the good gut bacteria
  • Helps manage acute and chronic gut disorders1
  • Relieves lactose intolerance symptoms
  • Shortens diarrhea caused by rotavirus2
  • Relieves ulcerative colitis and pouchitis (inflammation of an artificial rectum)
  • Improves symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome

Your gut is a complex network of gastric acid, bile, intestinal microflora, and some good and bad bacteria. So you want to make sure that there’s more of the good bacteria that can help you maintain a balance. That’s where probiotics come in. Probiotics comes from the fusion of two Greek words – “pro” meaning for and “biotics” meaning “life.”

Probiotics have been the buzzword among the health conscious for quite some time now. Touted as a superfood, probiotics which are food products fermented by lactic acid bacteria, have a lot to offer, including protection against cancer.

Today, stores are flooded with probiotic products – we even have probiotic ice-cream. Live cultures are being added to a variety of foods to make them gut-friendly. But rather than trying supplements, try these 5 natural probiotics you can make at home.

1. Yogurt

  • Just add about 5 tablespoons of leftover yogurt to 500 ml of warm (not hot) milk.
  • If you want to make it from scratch, squeeze a lemon into warm milk and let if ferment overnight.

With a diet rich in yogurt, you can be assured of a healthy gut as it balances the intestinal flora. Several studies even report that the natural probiotics in yogurt have a role to play in inhibiting tumor formation.3

It is also useful in chronic liver disease as well and also has a cholesterol-lowering effect.45

2. Cheese

  • Boil full-fat milk.
  • While it is still hot, add enough lemon juice to curdle the milk.
  • Chunks of cottage cheese will appear.
  • Drain the leftover fluid and tie the cottage cheese tightly in a muslin cloth or cheesecloth to bind it.

There is good news for cheese lovers. Indulging in this food can give you a probiotic boost. Cheese is a great delivery vehicle for probiotic cultures. It is also loaded with conjugated linoleic acid and bioactive peptides that have health benefits.6

But all cheeses might not do the trick. Aged cheeses like Gouda, mozzarella, and cheddar are good sources. Cottage cheese also packs in probiotics and can be easily made at home.

3. Sauerkraut

  • Mix 1.5 spoons of salt to shredded cabbage (medium-sized) and toss for a few minutes.
  • Leave it for about 10 minutes or till it starts leaving some water.
  • Flavor it with caraway seeds (optional).
  • Cram the cabbage tightly into mason jar along with the water it released.
  • Forget about it for 3 days and enjoy it afterward.

If you are vegan or have sworn off dairy products, sauerkraut might just be your thing. Another wonderful non-dairy source of probiotics is sauerkraut prepared from shredded cabbage fermented by lactic acid. Fermented products like sauerkraut can serve as carriers of probiotic microorganisms.7 It also carries a punch of vitamin C from the cabbage.

It is widely relished in European countries as a side dish, alongside burgers and on top of sausages. It has a sour-salty taste.

4. Kefir

  • In 1 glass of whole milk add 1 tsp active kefir grains.
  • Cover the glass with a cheesecloth or paper napkin, and secure it with a rubber band.
  • Store it at room temperature away from sunlight for 12–48 hours.
  • Strain out the kefir grains (they can be reused) and drink up.

The word for the fermented drink comes from Turkish and means “pleasure” or “good feeling.” It’s quite good for the health too! Studies have shown that kefir has antimicrobial, antitumor, anticarcinogenic, and immunity-modulating activity. It also improves lactose digestion.8

In postmenopausal rats, kefir has also shown improved bone mass and microarchitecture, which are key to bone quality.9

5. Kimchi Salad

  • Mix in together 1 cabbage (cut lengthwise), 1/4 cup salt, and 4 cups of water. Let it sit 3 hours or overnight.
  • Drain the cabbage and rinse with cold water.
  • To the cabbage, add julienned radish, scallions, and grated ginger.
  • Add a thick paste made with 1 tbsp water, sugar, pepper flakes, and nori.
  • Mix it in and place it in a glass jar in sunlight. Your kimchi should be ready in 24 hours.

This pungent and spicy Korean salad works as a side dish and is mostly made by fermenting cabbage. It is a good source of lactic acid bacteria, that helps in digestion.

Kimchi is anti-cancer, anti-obesity, anti-aging, and anti-constipation. It promotes immunity, brain, and colorectal health and reduces cholesterol.[ref]Park, Kun-Young, Ji-Kang Jeong, Young-Eun Lee, and James W. Daily III. “Health benefits of kimchi (Korean fermented vegetables) as a probiotic food.” Journal of medicinal food 17, no. 1 (2014): 6-20.

These are some healthy probiotic foods that you can include in your diet. You can choose them according to your taste.

References   [ + ]

1. Fooks, L. J., and G. R. Gibson. “Probiotics as modulators of the gut flora.” British Journal of Nutrition 88, no. S1 (2002): s39-s49.
2. Ouwehand, Arthur C., Seppo Salminen, and Erika Isolauri. “Probiotics: an overview of beneficial effects.” Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek 82, no. 1-4 (2002): 279-289.
3. Lourens-Hattingh, Analie, and Bennie C. Viljoen. “Yogurt as probiotic carrier food.” International dairy journal 11, no. 1 (2001): 1-17.
4. Liu, Jun-E., Yan Zhang, Jing Zhang, Pei-Ling Dong, Ming Chen, and Zhong-Ping Duan. “Probiotic yogurt effects on intestinal flora of patients with chronic liver disease.” Nursing research 59, no. 6 (2010): 426-432.
5. Ataie-Jafari, Asal, Bagher Larijani, H. Alavi Majd, and Farideh Tahbaz. “Cholesterol-lowering effect of probiotic yogurt in comparison with ordinary yogurt in mildly to moderately hypercholesterolemic subjects.” Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism 54, no. 1 (2009): 22-27.
6. Hayes, M., M. Coakley, L. O’sullivan, and C. Stanton. “Cheese as a delivery vehicle for probiotics and biogenic substances.” Australian Journal of Dairy Technology 61, no. 2 (2006): 132.
7. Heller, Knut J. “Probiotic bacteria in fermented foods: product characteristics and starter organisms.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 73, no. 2 (2001): 374s-379s.
8. Leite, Analy Machado de Oliveira, Marco Antonio Lemos Miguel, Raquel Silva Peixoto, Alexandre Soares Rosado, Joab Trajano Silva, and Vania Margaret Flosi Paschoalin. “Microbiological, technological and therapeutic properties of kefir: a natural probiotic beverage.” Brazilian Journal of Microbiology 44, no. 2 (2013): 341-349.
9. Chen, H-L., Y-T. Tung, C-H. Chuang, M-Y. Tu, T-C. Tsai, S-Y. Chang, and C-M. Chen. “Kefir improves bone mass and microarchitecture in an ovariectomized rat model of postmenopausal osteoporosis.” Osteoporosis International 26, no. 2 (2015): 589-599.

Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.