Probiotics have been gaining attention within the world of nutrition recently due to their suspected ability to help maintain healthy gut flora. These “good” bacteria are found in food and are similar to those already located in your intestinal tract. And, while the digestive system has a greater number of bacteria than there are cells in the body, the harmony among within this microbiome can be thrown off easily with antibiotics, environmental toxins, and poor diet. Left unaddressed, a balance that becomes altered can lead to symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea, and fatigue. It is even suspected that when the ratio of good-to-bad gut bacteria is off, it could result in chronic inflammatory conditions like arthritis, allergies, and inflammatory bowel disease.
Luckily, there’s a simple way to begin promoting gut health. In fact, in as little as 24 hours, you can create a new microbiota by simply changing what you eat. In addition to following a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and lean protein, you can also begin to incorporate probiotics into your meals. While yogurt is commonly thought of as the go-to choice for consuming healthy-gut bacteria, there are plenty of other options to choose from. Explore some of the most popular alternatives below.
Kefir is a sour-tasting fermented drink made from the milk of cows, goat, or sheep. Its origins can be traced to the Caucasus Mountains of West Asia. The drink is fermented with kefir grains and is considered to be even healthier than yogurt. While low in calories, kefir also has many macro and micronutrients, including protein, calcium, vitamin B12, and phosphorus.
Kombucha seems to be everyone’s power beverage of choice these days, and for good reason. The fermented tea isn’t just replete with probiotics; it also has bountiful antioxidants. Kombucha made from green tea is especially beneficial, as it shares many of the same health benefits of the tea, including the ability to support weight loss and blood sugar control.
When we think of foods high in nutritional value, olives aren’t typically the first things to come to mind. Yet, these salty salad toppers are bursting with helpful bacteria. Like many of the other foods on this list, the fermentation process which olives undergo is responsible for their high content of probiotic bacteria. They’re also high in healthy unsaturated fats and have antioxidant properties.
Hailing from Indonesia, tempeh is a soy product known for its versatility. While it is less popular than tofu, it acts as a great substitute for the vegan staple for anyone looking to add some probiotics to their plate. Many versions also contain grains, flavorings, or beans. Tempeh holds its shape well and has a nutty taste, as well as a consistency that holds oils well. Consider incorporating it into a stir frstir-fry it on a skewer, or throw it into a salad.
If you’re lactose intolerant or have eliminated dairy from your diet for other reasons, you can still get your yogurt fix through the coconut version. Coconut yogurt can be eaten plain and packs a powerful serving of probiotics. Or, you can incorporate it into smoothies, overnight oats, and any other meal or snack as you see fit.
You don’t have to rely on yogurt alone to consume a healthy blend of probiotic-rich foods. When combined with other all-natural food products, these probiotics may help you maintain optimal gut health while also supporting your overall wellness.