11 Probiotic Foods You Should Be Eating

Digestion: the process responsible for absorbtion of all vital nutrients that the body requires. Digestive health is a commonly overlooked facet of overall well-being that deserves a bit more attention. Making sure your gut is operating well is crucial in optimizing all of your healthy eating habits. Without proper digestion, the nutrients you put into your mouth are not effectively utilized and assimilated. Thus, you’re wasting that energy potential.

Fortunately, the fix is simple: incorporate more probiotic foods into your daily diet and lessen the amount of junk-filled, empty calories foods you eat. There’s a wide range of foods that naturally contain probiotics and can help boost your digestive health with regular consumption. Check out this probiotic foods list:

What are the best probiotic supplements on the market? Find out here.

Kimchi

kimchi

Kimchi is a fermented cabbage dish, most popular in Korean cuisine. It has made its way into the western world's array of foods and is looked at as a healthy gut food. Kimchi is a relatively low-calorie food that can be served alongside a protein like chicken or beef for a healthy dose of probiotics, vitamins & minerals.

Kombucha

kombucha

Perhaps one of the tastiest fermented foods on this list, Kombucha is an elixir that improves upon your digestive health by increasing the amount of good bacteria in your stomach. Kombucha is a fermented tea that contains probiotics as a result of the tea fermentation process--which includes a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast). The texture of the culture itself can be unappetizing to some at first, but has no foul flavor or smell.

Effervescent in nature, this bubbly drink is a natural and healthful replacement for traditional, empty-calorie soda. It can be found in a multitude of flavors, is consumed chilled and makes for a great meal compliment.

Sauerkraut

sauerkraft

Better known as a hot dog topping, sauerkraut actually packs a hearty punch of probiotics. Sauerkraut boasts many health benefits, mainly because it contains cabbage--which is a nutrient rich vegetable.

This cruciferous vegetable has been shown to effectively combat various cancers as well as sooth digestive issues. The probiotic content of sauerkraut, or fermented cabbage, is significant and can help keep your digestive bacteria balanced.

Kefir

kefir

Though many find dairy products to induce sinus problems and digestive issues, kefir may work for some that don't normally consume dairy. Kefir is a fermented milk product that boasts an array of vitamins and minerals, as well as probiotics.

The fermenting process results in the milk proteins being partially broken down, making them more readily absorbed by your digestive system.

Can probiotics help with weight loss? See more here

Pickles

These salty, tart, sour snacks are perhaps an unexpected addition to this list. More often seen as a burger topping, it may come as a surprise that pickles contain a hefty dose of probiotics.

These fermented cucumbers provide your digestive system with a greater ability to assimilate nutrients and degrade anti-nutrients--or compounds that hinder proper nutrient absorbtion. Aim to shop for organic store bought pickles, or opt to make your own at home.

Tempeh

tempeh

Tempeh is a plant based food made of fermented soybeans. You can normally find tempeh in dense, bread-like form. Tempeh contains stomach-healthy probiotics, a high amount of fiber as well as compounds that provide cardiovascular benefits. It can be eaten atop a salad, mixed into a stir-fry or consumed as a side dish.

Unlike miso soup, another one of these probiotic foods using soybeans, tempeh contains a low amount of sodium--making it suitable for individuals with high blood pressure.

Related- Can Taking Too Much Probiotics Be an Issue?

Dark Chocolate

Unarguably the most appealing and tasty fermented food, dark chocolate contains a naturally occuring amount of probiotics. It's important to look for organic, raw cacao bars that contain at least 70% cacao. Generic chocolate bars found at your local convenience store will not offer you the same health benefits. Most store bought chocolate has been processed and heated, which denatures and depletes most of its nutritional value.

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Poi

poi made from taro roots

Poi is a dish native to Hawaii and comprised of fermented taro root. Taro has been deemed toxic when ingested raw. Thus, poi is not a raw food. Its texture is smooth and soupy, and can be served several different ways. Poi can serve as a substitute for those with dairy milk allergies, as well as eaten with a spoon as a side dish.

It provides you with good bacteria from its probiotic content and can also please a delicate stomach. The taro plant is a sacred entity in Hawaiian culture, making this dish a staple in their diet.

Natto

Natto is another fermented dish comprised of soybeans. Rich in vitamin K (responsible for regulating blood clotting), vitamin C as well as probiotics, this food provides digestive, cardiocascular and immune health benefits. Natto is a fantastic plant-based source of protein, especially for those following a vegan or vegetarian diet.

As with all soy products, it truly behooves you to invest in organic. This is important with soy because it is one of the most commonly genetically modified crops. Buying organic will insure that the soy has not been treated with pesticides and has not been genetically modified.

Miso Soup

miso soup

A conglomerate of fermented soy bean paste and water, with optional onions and seaweed added to it. You can sip and slurp your way to digestive health by enjoying a bowl of miso soup.

Due to its high salt content, miso soup shouldn't be digested too frequently. Consuming it a few times a week is sufficient in delivering you the health benefits that it offers.

Microalgae

Microalgae

Taken in powder form and in small amounts, microalgae is one of many sea vegetables that is phytonutrient dense and powder packed. It also contains significant amounts of probiotics that feed the good bacteria in your intestines and stomach. Microalgae is one of a few ocean-based probiotic foods that you can find in the supplement section of most health food stores.

Do Probiotics Have Side Effects? Find out here.

Conclusion

As for every one of these fermented foods, look to buy organic when it's available. Making this small investment every time you shop will enable you to gain the digestive health benefits and keep your pesticide exposure low. Organic foods also contain higher levels of nutrients and cancer-starvning antioxidants.

In all of this, don't feel like you need to run to the store and buy every last fermented food to have healthy digestion. Simply incorporate a few of these foods a few times a week to receive their benefits. You can boost the health of your gut by limiting processed and junk-filled foods. Look to whole, real foods to fill your tank.

Jesica Salyer
 

Jesica Salyer graduated from Midwestern State University with a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology. She has experience in assistant volleyball coaching, four years working in fitness training and coordination and experience playing collegiate volleyball for Rutgers University.
She also created RunOnOrganic.com and co-founded FurtherFasterForever.com