Gut health is a vital component of a healthy life. It has caught enough attention lately, which is a good thing.
You should not take it lightly. It is as essential as your heart and brain.
Few steps like enough dietary fiber, a balanced diet, and probiotics keep your gut healthy. Talking about probiotics, they are living bacteria.
But they are not your foe but rather your friend. They aid in digestion and keep your gut health sound. Not only this, they are great for the skin, heart, and brain.
Probiotics have been in the limelight through commercials. Supplements and products having probiotics are widely marketed to keep the gut healthy.
This might make you wonder if these products are the only way to increase probiotics in your body. Luckily, the answer is no.
A healthy diet with foods rich in probiotics is sufficient to meet your body’s needs. This article will focus on those food items to consider as a source of probiotics.
Make your way to the end to find suitable ones to secure a spot in your diet plan.
List Of Best Probiotics Foods
The reasons for yogurt appearing as one of the best probiotic foods are accessibility and popularity. It is common across the globe and is usually available at affordable prices.
Besides that, what makes it top the list is the presence of a good amount of probiotics in it.
When milk is fermented by Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus, it sets to yogurt.
During fermentation, lactose is converted into lactic acid. Therefore, it is usually suitable for lactose intolerant people.
It is essential to take note of probiotics in your yogurt. Not all of them meet the requirements.
According to the study, at the manufacturing time, live cultures should be 100 million per gram of yogurt.
If frozen, it should be 10 million cultures per gram. Take into account the sugar value on the label as well. It should be under 15 grams.
Moreover, opt for plain yogurt. Ones with fruits mixed have more sugar. You should instead add fresh fruits yourself when consuming.
Idlis And Dosas
Fermented foods are the most common foods to get probiotics. Not only fancy food items but even Indian dishes offer probiotics.
Both idlis and dosas are part of South Indian cuisine. They are made by fermentation of rice and lentils overnight.
They are extremely nutritious and rich in live cultures. These good bacteria benefit the gut. Along with a few calories, they are easy to digest.
Fermentation increases the bioavailability of several nutrients. Thus, the nutrient profile is enriched by such fermented foods.
Kefir is a popular drink that is easy to prepare. Generally, it is made by adding kefir grains to milk. However, a water substitute is also possible.
Since the kefir-making process also involves fermentation, it is enriched in probiotics. It has lactic acid bacteria and yeast that are gut-friendly.
Moreover, it has antibacterial properties. It might shock, but it is a better source of probiotics than yogurt.
Some Varieties Of Cheese
Cheese is another dairy product rich in probiotics. However, you must be mindful of choosing cheese as a probiotic source.
Not all varieties offer probiotics. Some cheeses manage to sustain good bacteria during fermentation. Some examples are mozzarella cheese and cottage cheese.
Cottage cheese is claimed as heart-healthy. Some other probiotic-rich cheeses are cheddar, Swiz, and Edam.
Pickles involve a series of steps and ingredients that contribute to the growth of good bacteria. Probiotics are produced when pickles are brined(salt and oil) and rest in the sun.
During the natural fermentation process, naturally-present bacteria turn the pickle sour.
These pickles can be made from cucumber(salt+ water), raw mango, garlic, and Indian gooseberry.
Other ingredients present, like turmeric and mustard, increase antibacterial properties. Pickles are not only taste enhancers but also good for digestion.
But like all good things take time, so does the process of making pickles. If you use vinegar for making instant pickles or packaged ones, you will miss out on the benefits of live cultures.
It is better to go for the homemade pickle recipe from your grandma.
Buttermilk is another flavourful feast fermented dairy drink. Its roots can be traced back to Asian countries, specifically India and Pakistan.
It is watery in consistency. Hence, it is hydrating and rejuvenating. When milk or its products are fermented, buttermilk is obtained.
It is also leftover after butter is churned from cream. Some added salt and roasted cumin powder add the perfect twist to buttermilk.
Its local names exist with slight variations. You might also be familiar with either lassi or chaas. Both sweet-thick and salty-watery variations have probiotics in them.
Again, the traditional buttermilk contains live cultures and is also beneficial for your health.
Korean food has enraptured the food market recently. Several traditional recipes and takes are flooding the internet.
It is normally a cabbage-based dish. It has a strong smell of spices and is mouthwatering. Spices like chili flakes, garlic, salt, and pepper are added to the cabbage.
Then it is fermented, which aids in enriching probiotic content. Lactobacillus and other good bacteria are present in kimchi.
It is also a rich source of iron, vitamin K and many other nutrients.
Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has been marketed as healthy and weight loss friendly. You might find other benefits related to it are healthy skin and blood sugar management.
Studies back some benefits while others lack evidence. However, apple cider vinegar is indeed fermented.
The longer and slower the process is, the more nutrient profile enriches. Some gut-friendly bacteria flourish due to acetic acid.
Therefore, apple cider vinegar is counted as a probiotic food. One should not sip in apple cider vinegar directly. You can consider adding it to foods.
Over the years, old and new benefits of eating olives have emerged. They are considered for any type of diet plan.
Olives may help beat oxidative stress and the possible damage it can cause otherwise. In all this, the probiotics factor of olives generally remains hidden.
The study suggests that green olives have lactic acid bacteria. Both brined and fermented varieties of olives offer probiotics.
These gut-friendly bacteria might make olives digestion-friendly. Therefore, they might be pro-choice for your gut.
One of the Japanese food items extending probiotics is miso. It is usually made by fermentation of soybeans using salt and koji.
This paste is the base of a typical soup of the staple Japanese diet called miso soup. It is salty and comes in different colors.
Miso seasoning is also rich in fiber, vitamin K and proteins. According to research, it might have extended benefits in treating breast cancer.
Sourdough making process also involves fermentation. During this time, lactic acid bacteria improve the probiotic content of sourdough.
Not only are gut-healthy bacteria produced, but there are also more. Phytic acid present in wheat is reduced.
This acid is known to reduce the amount of nutrient absorption. Therefore, sourdough is gut friendly in two ways.
It improves good bacteria and increases the chance of better nutrient absorption, as per the study.
Kvass is predominantly a drink of Eastern Europe. Traditionally it is made with beet and sea salt without adding yeast.
Natural lactic acid bacteria ferment this beverage making it an excellent probiotic shot. It tastes similar to beer, but the difference is it is non-alcoholic.
It generally has just 0.5-1.5 % alcohol content. If fermented for longer, it has around 2.5% alcohol. It can be consumed by all age groups, unlike alcoholic drinks.
For faster fermentation, yeast is added but might change the taste. All over, it is a refreshing and nutritious beverage.
It has a good amount of vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, and calcium. It is believed to boost immunity, strengthen digestion and fight cancer.
The drink’s sweet, salty, and tangy flavors are accompanied by billions of probiotics.
Probiotics are essential for humans and naturally present in our bodies. They are also called good bacteria or live cultures.
They sustain the digestive system by increasing nutrient absorption. Their absence becomes a breeding ground for colds, skin problems and poor digestion.
In case the foods do not provide enough probiotics, you can try probiotic supplements. Although it is always advisable to ask your doctor before its use to avoid any side effects on your body.
Working4Health prefers using primary and verified references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and our primary references include peer-reviewed research, academic, and medical institution studies.
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Alisha Matthew has been a practicing nutritionist since 2016. She holds a master’s degree in nutrition from the University of IOWA. She is a staunch believer in improving the human health index by educating people about nutrition and the importance of nutrition in leading a healthy and happy life. Her long-term goal is to keep educating people on general health and keep herself updated with the latest trends in the field of health.