Probiotics have long been known for their amazing health benefits, and it seems more and more supplements are hitting the market claiming to give your digestive system the good bacteria it needs. While supplements are a great way to get in the probiotics you need, you can also get your good bacteria from food. Here are some of the best foods to consume to help your digestion and provide the intestinal bacteria needed to properly break down food.
This is one probiotic food that might take a little getting used to, but it’s well worth your time. It consists of spices and fermented vegetables, such as radishes and cabbages, which are already good for your gut. When you add in the fermented part, you get even better results! Research shows that the intake of kimchi was associated with improved cholestrol as well as fasting blood glucose levels in healthy adults. You can find kimchi available in some supermarkets, and in any Asian food mart in the refrigerated section.
Sauerkraut is made up of cabbage which has been fermented with specific bacteria, and is often brought up in talks about probiotic foods. This is a popular side dish in Germany as well as many other European countries, and comes in many different styles. In America, you may find it on a hot dog cart and is most often used to top a bratwurst on a bun. But of course, it can also be used as an accompaniment to any meal, and provides a sour taste that will get your saliva glands going as well as your digestive juice.
Yogurt has been known for a long time as having live and active cultures, and for the help, it can improve a sluggish digestive system. These days manufacturers are really pushing it as a digestive aid, and have increased the amount of bacteria in it to amplify the effects in brands like Activia. We recommend finding a brand of yogurt that comes from pasture-raised cows without the use of antibiotics or hormones. You can also try Greek yogurt if you’re sensitive to dairy. Just make sure your yogurt contains the good bacteria that you need to help improve your digestive health.
4. Dark Chocolate
This might be one of the tastiest items on our list, and it’s a surprise to many to find out that dark chocolate is a prebiotic food, which means that it feeds the good bacteria (probiotics) in your gut. It also contains antioxidants such as polyphenols that are helpful for reducing inflammation and eliminating free radical toxins. When picking out chocolate, also go for raw cacao. This means that the chocolate has not been processed and stripped of its good nutrients.
5. Miso Soup
This is a Japanese staple and is made from fermented soybeans, in most cases. You might find this served up with your sushi at a Japanese restaurant, but there are miso soup kits you can buy to make it at home, or you can try to make it following a traditional recipe if you’re so inclined. Since this is delivered in the form of a hot soup, it is an excellent choice to have before you start your meal so that your digestive system can be nourished and ready to go for the upcoming meal.
This has got to be one of the strangest items on our list of probiotic foods, and is made by growing a colony of bacteria in a jar, and then drinking the tea that is used to make it. The “mother” refers to the good bacteria that you get from the tea. This is why it’s important not to buy processed brands of tea as they don’t contain this important ingredient. If you don’t want to take on the risk of making it yourself, there are plenty of pre-made kombucha drinks you can buy and enjoy. Just be sure not to get one with too much added sugar as this defeats the purpose of trying to heal your gut.
Bananas have so many other health properties to them that it often goes unmentioned that they help with digestion by providing digestive prebiotic bacteria. What’s actually happening is that they’re feeding the bacteria already present, allowing it to thrive and multiply. These are the bacteria located in the colon, so in addition to the fiber that bananas provide, they are also helping to improve the health of your colon, which is a main part of your digestive system and can cause trickle down problems if it isn’t properly maintained. Bananas have made it onto several of our lists, including being a low glycemic food.
The fermentation process makes kefir a better option than ordinary milk, and it’s a food source that can be used to help provide probiotic benefits to the body. A recurring theme of many of the foods on our list is that they’ve been fermented and contain specific types of bacteria, and kefir is no different. Kefir has been studied and researched and is being posited as a complex probiotic. Research shows that you can use it to improve lactose digestion, boost immunity, and protect against microbial agents in the gut.
Tempeh is often featured in vegan and vegetarian cuisine has a reliable replacement for meat, but since it has been fermented is also providing digestive benefits. Because the fermentation process turns it into patty form, it often resembles a meaty loaf or a burger patty, which is why it is often a stand in. Research shows that tempeh increases the amount of lactobacillus in the gut, which has antibacterial properties to boost immune health.
10. Sourdough Bread
Here’s another reason to switch from white bread to a bread made from with sourdough. In addition to the added nutrients and protein, you’re getting a bread that provides your digestive system with what it needs to function at its best. When focusing on probiotics, it’s good to also limit your intake of foods that can strip away healthy bacteria, such as white bread. This is why sourdough is the perfect way to have your bread and eat it too. In addition to providing a good source of lactic acid bacteria (which contributes to the bread’s low pH levels), sourdough also contains a good source of minerals.
11. Pickled Vegetables
An ordinary pickle can help in providing good bacteria to your digestive system. The brine that’s used to do the pickling contains certain bacteria in it. You can also turn to other pickled vegetables, like beets and other veggies that have gone through the pickling process.