Probiotics are the “good” bacteria in our gut that have been recognized to help strengthen immunity and fight against germs and viruses, promote bowel regularity, produce vitamins B and K; as well as improve the absorption of essential minerals. With so many health benefits associated with their consumption, it’s no wonder why probiotics have become so popular.
While most people typically opt for probiotic supplements, there are a variety of tasty foods that you can try adding to your diet for a food-first approach to a healthier gut. Here are some of my top picks:
1. Miso Paste
Miso paste is soybean-based and offers excellent versatility in the kitchen. You may be familiar with miso soup, but in addition to being used in this authentic Japanese dish, miso paste can also be added to salad dressings or used as a vegan substitute for mayonnaise.
Although all yogurts contain some degree of living, active cultures, not all yogurts contain significant quantities of probiotics, nor the particular strains that have been observed to provide substantial health benefits. For an optimal probiotic punch, look for yogurts with additional probiotics added to them. Yogurt is great to enjoy as a base for parfaits, in smoothies or as a marinade.
Kefir is a fermented beverage that mostly resembles yogurt, but has a more fluid-like consistency. Traditionally, kefir is dairy-based, but non-dairy alternatives such as coconut kefir are also available on the market. Kefir can be enjoyed similarly to how yogurt is but offers the added benefit of a more varied probiotic profile, as well as, higher protein content.
4. Fermented Vegetables
The process of fermentation has been around for centuries as a means to extend the shelf life of foods. This preservation technique has been found to produce probiotics and also add other nutrients to foods.
Whether in the form of sauerkraut or kimchi, cabbage is particularly a commonly fermented vegetable. Globally, fermented cabbage is most popularly enjoyed as a side dish or condiment for sandwiches and wraps.
Important to note however is that fermented/pickled vegetables are typically very high in sodium. To enjoy these foods in moderation, consider incorporating them into meals as a substitute for table salt or other high-sodium ingredients.
Last but not least is kombucha, which is a fermented, sugar-sweetened tea with quite the culinary history. Since its recent rise in popularity over the past couple of years, a variety of kombucha products have become available on the market and so finding a favourite flavour is not as difficult as it once used to be.
Be wary of their serving size and sugar content, however, as some are sweetened more than others.
From savoury to sweet, probiotics can be found in a variety of foods. Are any of these foods already a staple in your diet? Which are you interested in trying out next?