Probiotics are live microorganisms offering amazing health benefits on consumption. These are beneficial bacteria that are known to improve your digestive health, promote heart health and reduce depression. There is even evidence claiming it to offer skin benefits for people who consume it regularly.
However, there has always been a debate on what kind of probiotic foods should you consume for getting the maximum benefits. We have brought you the most popular and advantageous probiotic foods that will keep you healthy.
Best Probiotic Foods
The first one on the list is yogurt, which is considered as one of the most efficient source of probiotics. It is prepared from milk fermented by friendly bacteria, particularly bifidobacteria and lactic acid bacteria.
Eating yogurt regularly provides several health benefits such as improved bone health, controlled blood pressure, etc.
When consumed by children, yogurt helps in reducing the symptoms of diarrhea caused by antibiotics. It can also relieve the symptoms of IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome).
In addition to these benefits, yogurt can also be very suitable for lactose intolerant people as the bacteria turns a proportion of lactose into lactic acid, which is also the reason behind its sour taste.
However, it is important to note that all kinds of yogurt do not contain live probiotics. There are cases when the live bacteria dies in the process of making yogurt.
So, one must ensure the yogurt they consume is rich in live or active cultures. Also read the label on the package well before you buy it as it might be full of large amounts of added sugar.
Not many people know about this probiotics food, but Kefir can be an excellent source of the live microorganisms. It is a fermented probiotic milk drink, prepared by mixing kefir grains to goat’s milk or cow’s milk.
Do not confuse kefir grains with cereal grains. They are cultures of yeast and lactic acid bacteria that are very similar to cauliflower in appearance.
The word kefir comes from ‘keyif’, a Turkish word meaning ‘feeling good’ post eating. Kefir is known to provide several health benefits like improving bone health, protecting your body against infections and help recovering some digestive issues.
Kefir consists of various major strains of friendly yeast and bacteria, which makes it a potent and diverse probiotic.
Same as yogurt, kefir can also be a good source of probiotic for lactose intolerant people.
Sauerkraut is a well-shredded cabbage fermented by the lactic acid bacteria. It is among the oldest foods, which is still prevalent in most countries, mainly in Europe.
Usually used top sausages and sometimes as a side dish as well. The taste is sour and salty and it sustains for long, when stored in an airtight container.
Additionally, it is rich in fiber, Vitamin C, vitamin B and vitamin K. It is rich in sodium and also consists of manganese and iron.
Sauerkraut contains various antioxidants like zeaxanthub and lutein, which works great in improving eye health.
Note: You must choose unpasteurized sauerkraut because pasteurization kills the active and live bacteria, which eliminates its probiotic content. You can easily purchase raw sauerkraut online.
Tempeh is a kind of r=fermented soybean product which makes for a good patty with a nutty and earthy flavor, much similar to mushroom. It found its origin in Indonesia, but has eventually become popular across the world as a substitute for high-protein meat.
Its fermentation process results interestingly on its nutritional composition. Soybeans are generally high in phytic acid, which is a plant compound, impairing the absorption of iron and zinc.
Fermentation of tempeh, lowers the total amount of phytic acid and boosts the amounts the minerals our body can absorb from the food. Its fermentation also releases some vitamin B12 that soybeans usually lack. VitB12 is mostly found in meat, eggs and fish dairy.
So, tempeh makes the best choice for people who are vegetarians and anyone who is looking forward to adding a nutritious probiotic food to their daily diet.
Kimcho is a Korean side dish, spicy and fermented. Flavored with a combination of seasonings like ginger, garlic, red chili pepper flakes, salt and scallion.
The main ingredient in Kimchi is cabbage, but it also includes other healthy vegetables.
It consists of Lactobacollus kimchii, a lactic acid bacteria and other similar kind of bacteria that helps in digestion. Kimchi prepared with large amount of cabbage us rich in minerals and vitamins, which includes riboflavin, vitamin K and iron.
Miso is one of the most healthiest Japanese seasoning, which is traditionally prepared by fermentation of soybeans with kohi, a type of fungus and salt. It can also be prepared by combining soybeans with other healthy ingredients like rice, rye and barley.
The paste or seasoning can be used in miso soup, a popular dish for breakfast in Japan. It tastes salty. You can easily find it in different varieties like yellow, white, brown and red.
Miso is a great source of fiber and protein, It is high in several minerals, plant compounds and vitamins, which includes manganese, copper and vitamin K. The Japanese seasoning is related to some amazing health benefits.
In a study, Experts reported that regular intake of miso soup can lower the risk of breast cancer in mid-aged women in Japan.
In another study, the women eating a lot of this dish had lower risk of strokes.
It is another fermented probiotic food, like fermented green or black tea. Manufacturers ferment the tea by friendly yeast and bacteria. It is a popular drink in many regions of world, mainly Asia. You can easily get it online.
There are so many health benefits of Kombucha found on the Internet.
However, strong evidence on its health benefits is still not found. The existing studies are the test-tube studies and the ones made on snails. It is doubtful, if these will apply the same way for humans.
Nevertheless, its fermented form does have healthy benefits linked to the probiotic properties it possesses.
Also known as gherkins, pickles are generally cucumbers pickled in a solution of water and salt. The combination is left to ferment for some time, using the lactic acid bacteria present in the solution. The process of fermentation makes them sour in taste.
Eating pickled bacteria is an amazing source of probiotic food or probiotic bacteria that helps in improved digestive health. Pickles are rich in vitamin K and low in calorie. It is a significant nutrient for blood clotting. They are also high in sodium.
Note: Pickles prepared using vinegar lack live probiotics.
Buttermilk links to a variety of fermented dairy drinks. There are two main types of buttermilk – cultured and traditional.
The leftover liquid while you make butte is known as traditional buttermilk. This is the only form that consists of live probiotics and is also known as ‘grandma’s probiotic’.
Mostly people in Nepal, India and Pakistan consume buttermilk.
Talking about the cultured buttermilk type, it is mostly found in America and have no probiotics benefits.
Buttermilk is low in calories and fat, but consists of various essential minerals and vitamins, like riboflavin, phosphorous, calcium and Vitamin B12.
We have yet another fermented soybean product on the list of probiotic foods, Natto, much like miso and tempeh. It is a fermented soybean product having a bacterial strain Bacillus subtilis. Natto is a staple food in Japan, typically combined with rice and had as a breakfast food.
It has a strong flavor, slimy texture and different smell. It is rich in vitamin K2 and protein that helps in improving cardiovascular and bone health.
In a study on older Japanese adults, scientists inferred that frequent natto intake can help in increasing the bone mineral density. It is because of its high content of vitamin K2.
Several other studies indicated that it can help prevent the condition of osteoporosis in women.
Types of cheese
Even though most cheese types are fermented, not all of them are rich in probiotics. So, it becomes essential to find the ones with active and live cultures on their labels.
The good bacteria in these types of cheese survive the ageing process. Examples of such cheeses include mozzarella, cottage, Gouda and cheddar cheese.
Cheese is an amazing source of protein and s high in nutrients. It is rich in essential minerals and vitamins, like vitamin B12, calcium, selenium and phosphorous.
When you consume cheese moderately, it can probably lower the risk of osteoporosis and cardiac disease.
Probiotics foods are highly beneficial for your health
Foods high in probiotics have several health benefits. Some of the main probiotic foods include vegetables, dairy and fermented soybean products like tempeh, miso and natto. We have mentioned the 11 most popular probiotic foods above. Still, there are a lot more you can consume for a balanced and healthy lifestyle.
If you won’t or can’t eat these healthy foods, you can always opt for the probiotic supplements available in different forms and flavors. You can easily get it online.
Probiotics, when consumed both in form of food or supplement, works wonderfully in maintaining your health.
Probiotics Side Effects
Although probiotics offer a wide range of health benefits, there are a few side effects that you might encounter on consumption of the foods high in probiotic properties. Some of the most common probiotics side effects are:
When some foods high in protein are fermented, they may lead to production of biogenic amines like tryptamine and antihistamine.
In some studies, experts suggested that these biogenic amines can have adverse affects on your CNS (central nervous system). It fluctuates the blood flow, either increases or decreases it that causes migraines or headaches.
How to handle the situation: Get probiotics from its supplement forma d not in form of fermented foods.
If you notice nay allergy symptoms after consumption of any probiotic foods, there’s nothing to worry. It doesn’t always mean that you are allergic to probiotics on a whole. It could just be the histamines you are sensitive to.
Certain bacteria strains can boost the histamine levels in the GI tract, which makes the body, react the way it does against an allergen. With an excessive consumption of histamine, you might see reactions like itchy eyes, runny nose or shortness of breath.
How do handle the situation: If you are highly allergic to histamines, avoid fermented form of probiotic foods like kimchi, yogurt and kombucha. You can try other bacteria strains to see what works best for you. You can talk to your health and fitness expert for helpful advice.
If you already know the benefits of probiotics, you must find it ironical. How can a product cause side effect, which it actually helps to cure? Probiotics helps in curing chronic diarrhea. However, when you first try taking probiotics, your body takes a week to adjust with the new product, but you will soon be back to a normal life.
How to handle the situation: Try taking the probiotic supplement on an empty stomach to help eliminate the problem of diarrhea. And do drink plenty of water.
Gas and bloating
If you are facing gastrointestinal issues after including probiotic foods to your diet, you are not the only one. Called as the Herxheimer Reaction, which is not as scary as it sounds. It states that your gut has to work overtime to get accustomed to the inclusion of new bacteria and thus, things get a little gassy. Sorry, but you will be okay in a few days.
How to handle the situation: Drink plenty of water. Include anti-inflammatory foods in your diet. Avoid drinking alcohol and always dry brush your body. You will also feel a lot better by getting into those stretch pants, giving up the skinny jeans for a while.
The Bottom Line
Probiotics are live organisms that you can have in form of food products or supplements, both being equally beneficial for your health. Probiotic foods such as fermented soybean products, yogurt, traditional buttermilk, etc, are some with amazing health benefits.
Tell us how these probiotic foods worked for you in the comments.