6 Probiotic Foods: Benefits & How to Consume Them

Updated in July 2022

Probiotic foods are considered to be very beneficial for your health, as they contain vitamins and minerals that are important for fueling the body, as well as bacteria and fermentation properties that help to maintain health. Probiotic foods promote optimal digestion and help to prevent illnesses like diabetes, gastritis or high blood pressure. 

To take advantage of all the benefits that probiotic foods have to offer, you should eat at least one of these foods every day. 

Fermented cheese, yogurt and milk are some examples of probiotic foods. Their benefits vary depending on the type and quantity of microorganisms present within them. 

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1. Yogurt

Yogurt is a probiotic food with an acidic flavor. It is made from fermented milk and can also contain fruit or other ingredients. This food is rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals and additionally contains lactobacillus and bifidobacteria, which are microorganisms that are beneficial to the body. 

Benefits: Due to its high level of protein, yogurt helps to curb appetite, which helps with weight loss. The microorganisms present in yogurt help with the growth of good bacteria in the intestines, helping with constipation and vitamin or mineral absorption. Having healthy gut bacteria helps with the digestion of milk products, making it a great option for those with lactose sensitivities.  
Yogurt also boosts the immune system by preventing cold and flu infections. It is also used to promote general bone and tooth health as it is rich in calcium. 

How to consume it: Yogurt can be eaten on a daily basis. There are many options available for purchase, however you should opt for sugar-free yogurts without food coloring or additives. Yogurt should be stored in the fridge and can be consumed for breakfast or as a snack. You can even add fruit to yogurt, as the fiber in fruit can help to keep you fuller for longer. 

2. Kefir

Kefir is a fermented drink with an acidic flavor. It is considered to be a complete probiotic food, as it is rich in calcium and B-complex vitamins, which contribute to optimal intestinal health. 

Benefits: Kefir contains even more good bacteria than milk, making it a great option for people with lactose intolerant. It helps to keep gut bacteria balanced and can be used to prevent or treat diarrhea, constipation or other intestinal inflammatory diseases. Kefir is an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant food and can help to boost the immune system during colds, flus, cancer treatment and other illnesses.

How to consume it: It is possible to find kefir in natural health products and restaurants. There are many options available in terms of the type of milk used during fermentation (cow or goat milk for example). Some kefir products are used in smoothies or you can purchase kefir grains to make it yourself. Many interest groups online organize kefir swaps or donations for anyone wanting to prepare it at home. 

3. Kombucha

Kombucha is a drink that is prepared by fermenting green or black tea with sugar. It has a sweet, refreshing taste, similar to a cider. This drink is rich in microorganisms that help to boost immunity, fight fungal and bacterial infections, and prevent many other health problems. Learn more about the benefits and preparation methods of kombucha

Benefits: Because it is made from black or green tea, it kombucha is naturally rich in antioxidants that strengthen the immune system. It can prevent cold or flu infections, heart disease, diabetes and cancer. It also improves intestinal function and decreases the growth of harmful bacteria in the stomach, which can help with the prevention gastritis or stomach cancer. Some studies show that due to its high amounts of good bacteria, kombucha can help with the treatment of type 2 diabetes and weight loss. 

How to consume it: Kombucha is usually found in natural health stores, but it can also be sold at restaurants. There are many flavors available, ranging from different fruits or spices. Kombucha can be consumed every day during any meal. It should be kept in the fridge. 

4. Sauerkraut

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Sauerkraut is a probiotic food that is made by fermenting cabbage with salt. It has a more acidic flavor profile, and contains high amounts of lactobacillus, minerals, and vitamins A, B, C and K. It is also low in calories.

Benefits: Sauerkraut is a probiotic food that has high fiber, bacteria and yeast content which can prevent constipation or diarrhea and promote optimal digestion. In addition, this food is rich in antioxidants which help to prevent many illnesses like some types of cancers, colds and the flu. Some studies show that daily consumption of sauerkraut can lead to improved intestinal flora levels and reduced symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. 

How to consume it: The recommended daily quantity of sauerkraut is between 7 and 10 g. It can be added to salads, sandwiches and other meals. 

5. Food made from fermented soybeans

There are many foods that are made from fermented soybeans, like miso, tempeh, misoshiru and natto. 

Benefits: These foods improve intestinal health, as fermented soybeans are known to combat constipation, prevent diarrhea and promote the absorption of nutrients. These foods are rich in antioxidants and strengthen the immune system. They can also be used to prevent diseases like diabetes, stomach cancer, prostate cancer and high blood pressure. Some studies show that foods like miso, tempeh and natto that are used during treatment can help to improve indigestion and reflux. One study found that daily intake of foods made from fermented soybeans improved total cholesterol levels. 

How to consume it: Miso is a soybean paste that is used as a base to prepare miso soup, which is also made with seaweed, mushrooms, onion and pumpkin. This soup can be eaten as a starter for lunch or dinner. Tempeh can be baked or grilled on the barbeque, and is typically eaten as an appetizer, a snack or main dish. Natto is a food that is mixed with cooked rize and seasoned with onion, cilantro and is usually eaten for breakfast. 

6. Kimchi

Kimchi is a probiotic food that is made from fermented vegetables and salt. The most popular type of kimchi is prepared with cabbage, radish, red pepper flakes, garlic, ginger, anchovies, sugar, onion and salt. Kimchi is rich in vitamin C and B-complex vitamins, minerals and fibers. It is very low in calories and is considered to be one of the healthiest foods in the world. 

Benefits: Because it is rich in nutrients like vitamin C, fibers and minerals, kimchi is a food that can promote optimal intestinal function and improve immunity. It can prevent many types of illnesses, like cancer, obesity and heart disease. Kimchi also slows down aging, as it decreases free radicals in the body, which are are molecules produced from natural chemical reactions in the body. 

How to consume it: Kimchi is usually prepared at home and is served a side dish during meals. It is prepared by washing the cabbage and allowing it to dry completely. After adding the other ingredients, it is mixed well and fermented for at least 3 days in the fridge.