While you may typically associate probiotics with a little pill you keep in the fridge, there are plenty of probiotic-rich foods out there, too. Probiotics are strains of living organisms that, when eaten, can help promote the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut, according to the Mayo Clinic.
It may be unsettling to know that your stomach is full of bacteria, but the ecosystem in your gut (your gut microbiome) plays a big role in your health from your mood to your immune system. Filling your diet with these recipes may help improve your gut-friendly bacteria while adding a tangy twist to any meal.
1. Autumn Kimchi Slaw
This kimchi slaw is a unique twist on traditional Korean food. Kimchi is a plant-based probiotic food, made by fermenting vegetables with probiotic lactic acid bacteria, according to a January 2014 article published in the Journal of Medicinal Food.
Kimchi is not only incredibly tasty but highly functional as a probiotic food, which helps increase the healthy gut bacteria in your body. The fermented veggie dish is even linked to promoting healthy immune function, anticancer benefits, healthy digestion and antiaging benefits, the study notes.
Get the Autumn Kimchi Slaw recipe and nutrition info here.
2. Fruity Kefir
Kefir is a fermented probiotic beverage that you can sip alone or add to smoothies. While it's a dairy-based beverage, kefir can actually improve lactose digestion for those that are lactose sensitive, according to an October 2013 article published in the Brazilian Journal of Microbiology.
For those looking to fight inflammation, this recipe is a great addition. Not only is kefir recognized for its potential abilities to reduce inflammation, but the antioxidant content in the recipe's berries can add an extra inflammation-fighting boost, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Get the Fruity Kefir recipe and nutrition info here.
3. Asparagus, Shiitake and Tempeh Stir-Fry
Alongside its ability to promote the growth of healthy gut bacteria, soy-based tempeh is an excellent source of protein, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. Unlike other plant-based protein sources, soy is a complete protein, which means that it contains all nine essential amino acids that your body cannot produce by itself.
Get the Asparagus, Shiitake and Tempeh Stir-Fry recipe and nutrition info here.
4. Brovada (Italian Wine-Soaked Turnip Sauerkraut)
While you can definitely top a hotdog with sauerkraut, you're better off trying this wholesome recipe. This fermented cabbage is considered a "probiotic superfood" due to its high levels of natural colony-forming units (CFU), which is the unit used to estimate amounts of bacteria or fungus, according to a 2016 article published in Functional Foods in Health & Disease.
The lactic acid bacteria found in sauerkraut is also known for its ability to help treat conditions like constipation, diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) — and it's even linked to promoting a healthy immune system and lactose digestion.
Get the Brovada recipe and nutrition info here.
Read more: 10 Prebiotic Foods to Add to Your Diet Today
These days, bottles of kombucha line most supermarkets' beverage aisles. While a store-bought option will definitely provide probiotic benefits, you can make your own right at home in just 45 minutes. Typically, kombucha tea is made by combining a colony of bacteria with sugar and tea, according to the Mayo Clinic. The end result is a carbonated tea containing vinegar and B vitamins.
While kombucha is praised for its abilities to help treat certain health issues, there isn't any firm evidence to prove these claims, according to the Mayo Clinic. However, there has been limited research that has shown probiotic-like benefits, such as immune system support and promotion of regular digestion. Plus, the fizzy drink is a great way to finally kick your soda habit.
Get the Kombucha recipe and nutrition info here.
- Journal of Medicinal Food: " Health Benefits of Kimchi (Korean Fermented Vegetables) as a Probiotic Food"
- Brazilian Journal of Microbiology: "Microbiological, technological and therapeutic properties of kefir: a natural probiotic beverage"
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: "What is an Anti-Inflammatory Diet?"
- Polish Journal of Microbiology: "Evaluation of Bean and Soy Tempeh Influence on Intestinal Bacteria and Estimation of Antibacterial Properties of Bean Tempeh."
- Harvard School of Public Health: "Straight Talk About Soy"
- Functional Foods in Health & Disease: "Sauerkraut: A Probiotic Superfood"
- Mayo Clinic: "What is Kombucha Tea? Does It Have Any Health Benefits?"
- Mayo Clinic: "Prebiotics, Probiotics and Your Health"