Top 10 Probiotic Foods To Support Gut Health

Longevity 120 is a community-supported website. We may earn a small commission on purchases made through our links. Learn more.

Probiotics are typically fermented foods that have good bacteria and support your gut health. You can get them from acidophilus milk, buttermilk, yoghurt, sourbread dough and soft cheeses. You can also get them from kimchi, sauerkraut, tempeh, kefir, miso and sour pickles.

One of the things that gets worse even without the added kick of aging is your gut health. Don’t take good care of it and you’ll end up with problems while you’re still in your 20s. Luckily, you can avoid all that by just eating right. But I’m going to tell you why before jumping into the list of things to add to your diet.

Top 10 Probiotic Foods To Support Gut Health

The human body has about 100 trillion microbes which are good bacteria. A lot of them are in your gut helping your digestive system do its job. Needless to say, you need to feed them so that they can keep the engine running smoothly.

That means eating veggies and fruits with fibres like beans, lentils, chickpeas and so on. But from time to time, your gut can benefit from probiotics, since they have those live microorganisms that are good for your gut.

Apart from that, they are also good for your heart health and can keep depression at bay. Here’s a list of 10 probiotics.

1. Yoghurt

This one can be made at home and has a lot of friendly bacteria that are good for your digestive system. It’s made of milk but undergoes a fermentation process when bifidobacteria and lactic acid bacteria get added to it.

Yoghurt is also good for your bones and helps regulate blood pressure as well. Kids also benefit from yoghurt if they’re on antibiotics for some reason and experiencing diarrhoea. And adults with irritable bowel syndrome will also feel better after consuming some yoghurt.

Now, if you’re lactose intolerant, it shouldn’t be a big problem since the lactose in the milk actually gets converted to lactic acid while it’s fermented.

The only thing to remember is that not every type of yoghurt has these helpful microbes because some of them get killed while they’re being processed. So, be sure to check the label before buying commercial brands. Plus, plenty of them are pumped with sugar even when they’re labelled fat-free or low-fat.

The label should mention something about “active and live cultures for your gut to benefit.

2. Kimchi

This is a Korean seasoning that is made by fermenting cabbage. It can also be made with other veggies. And thanks to the fermentation, it has a lot of lactobacilli which is a type of lactic acid bacteria that’s good for your gut. Kimchi also has other types of lactic acid bacteria.

And those who love spicy food will thoroughly enjoy kimchi as a side to their main course. It also has other seasonings like salt, scallion, ginger, garlic and chilli pepper flakes to quite literally spice up the side dish.

And since it is mostly made of cabbage, you will also get iron, vitamin B2 or riboflavin and vitamin K.

3. Sauerkraut

Cabbage lovers are in luck because sauerkraut is another item that’s made from shredding this leafy vegetable. This one is also a side dish that contains lactic acid bacteria which is good for your gut.

Sauerkraut is a popular food item in many parts of the world but they’re big fans, particularly in eastern Europe. You can also store it in an airtight container for months on end, which makes things a bit easier.

Apart from probiotics, sauerkraut also has vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium and iron. Sauerkraut is also rich in zeaxanthin and lutein which are antioxidants that boost the health of your eyes. But it also has a lot of sodium which is something to look out for.

If you’re looking especially for probiotics, make sure you get unpasteurised sauerkraut because that’s the one that has active and live bacteria. Unfortunately, a lot of supermarket brands put it through pasteurization which means you might have to search a little harder.

Or, you could just make it at home.

4. Soft Cheeses

If you want to promote gut health and have a little fun at the same time, don’t skip the gouda. It’s a soft cheese that undergoes fermentation after which it becomes both tasty and healthy.

The same is true for parmesan and cheddar as well. In fact, some say soft cheeses do more good than yoghurt when you’re focussing on getting probiotics to your gut.

5. Kefir

Next up on the list is another fermented milk drink. This one is called kefir and it is made by adding grains of the same name to goat’s or cow’s milk. These grains have yeast and lactic acid bacteria.

Interestingly, the word kefir is said to have Turkish origins which translated to “feel good after eating” and the drink has a lot of science-based health benefits. Apart from gut health, it’s also good for your bones and can act as a shield against infections.

Kefir is better than yoghurt if you’re looking for good bacteria to aid your digestion. it  is known for its potency as a probiotic and is more diverse than yoghurt. Plus, it’s a good option for those who are lactose intolerant.

Kefir has a tangy taste and its texture is creamy and thick.

6. Sourdough Bread

Here’s one that’ll cheer up those who were looking for bread since they came across the word yeast. Sourdough bread is a good pick for your next sandwich if you’re a fan of cheese and cold cuts.

7. Acidophilus Milk

If you’re looking for simple solutions, it really doesn’t get simpler than acidophilus milk. This is fermented milk with good bacteria just like good old buttermilk.

8. Miso Soup

Soybeans, a fungus named koji and salt might not be anyone’s favourite ingredients. But miso, the Japanese seasoning, packs all of them and does wonders for your digestion. Sometimes, miso also has rye, rice and barley, which should make it sound a bit more appealing.

But we’re not in this for the glory but for the gut, right? Most of the time, miso is available as a paste that is commonly used to make the famous miso soup, a popular Japanese breakfast food. The paste comes in brown, red, yellow and white and has a salty taste.

Apart from aiding your gut health, miso is also rich in antioxidants, fibre, protein, vitamins B and K, along with minerals like copper and manganese. It also doesn’t have too many calories. And there’s some evidence to show miso soup helped middle-aged women from Japan reduce the risk of breast cancer and stroke.

9. Tempeh

Speaking of soybeans, here’s an Indonesian patty that’s famous for being a natural antibiotic. It’s good when you need to fight some types of bacteria. Obviously, it’s on this list because it has good bacteria thanks to its base which is made by cooking and fermenting soybeans. 

Apart from gut health, tempeh is also rich in protein content which is why a lot of people are now using it as a substitute for meat. Tempeh is also prepared in such a way that its phytic acid content is reduced greatly. As a result, the plant compound becomes less active and your body can absorb more minerals like zinc and iron.

Tempeh is also rich in vitamin B12 content which soybeans don’t have but this is the result of fermentation. So, vegetarians who don’t eat eggs, fish or meat can get B12 from tempeh.

10. Sour Pickles

And finally, we have sour pickles like gherkins. These are great probiotics if the fermentation isn’t done with vinegar. That means they were pickled in a solution of water and sea salt which enables the growth of good bacteria.

Typically, they’re left to ferment for a while which is also why they’re a bit sour in taste. Pickles also have vitamin K, which promotes blood clotting, and they have a low calorie count as well.

But they have a lot of sodium which you should be careful of.

Rosemary Richards