Probiotics have been getting much attention in the news these days, and it seems more and more supplements are hitting the market claiming to give your digestive system the good bacteria it needs. But the best option is always the most natural, and it makes the most sense to get your probiotics covered from the foods you eat, rather than from a supplement. 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 because of the spiciness of it. In Korea a meal rarely goes by where some form of kimchi isn’t available as a side dish. It’s a staple of the culture and is often cited as the reason for low rates of digestive disorders. It’s even been credited as the reasons why SARS didn’t become widespread in Korea at the time it was hitting other parts of Asia. 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 juices.
Yogurt has been known for a long time as having live and active cultures, and for the help it can bring 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. The claims being made on these specialty yogurts were challenged with a lawsuit and there was a settlement made due to false advertising. You don’t have to get fancy, just stick to your basic yogurt and enjoy the benefits it provides.
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 probiotic food. It also contains antioxidants, something that milk chocolate doesn’t provide. When choosing your dark chocolate you can narrow it down by percentages. Opting for a higher percentage means that more of it is actual chocolate. The higher percentages are often used only in cooking, and might not be suitable to the palate if you’re using it mostly for a probiotic effect. Also, it’s best to eat your probiotic foods at the beginning of the meal, so having dark chocolate as a dessert misses the window a bit.
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” is used to make “babies” so that one batch of kombucha sets itself up for the next. 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..
Bananas have so many other health properties to them that it often goes unmentioned that they help with digestion by providing digestive 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 probiotic 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.
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.
10. Whole Grain Bread
Here’s another reason to switch from white bread to a bread made from whole grains. 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. There are also certain brands of whole wheat bread that you can buy that have been fortified to be a probiotic.
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.