Probiotic Foods to Boost Your Digestive Flora

Fresh or Fermented Foods That Promote Digestive Health

Your digestive tract plays host to a diversity of "good" bacteria and yeasts that aid in digestion while preventing "bad" bacteria or yeast from causing harm. We refer to these microorganisms as probiotics.

You can support the healthy flora of your digestive tract by taking over-the-counter probiotic supplements that are easy to use and readily found in most major drug stores.

But pills aren't the only way to get probiotics into your diet. There are plenty of fresh and fermented foods with high probiotic value as well as prebiotic foods that contain fructooligosaccharides (FOS) known to promote probiotic growth.

Here are 10 you should know about:

1

Yogurt

Yogurt boosts your probiotics.
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Yogurt is probably the best-known dietary source of probiotics but is also beneficial for many other reasons. It is an excellent source of calcium, protein, and potassium and delivers an impressive nine grams of protein per six-ounce serving.

Depending on the brand, yogurt can contain anywhere from 90 billion to 150 billion CFU (colony forming units) of probiotics per gram.

2

Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut boosts your probiotics.
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Sauerkraut is an excellent source of probiotics, fiber, manganese, potassium, iron, calcium, and vitamin C. On the downside, it tends to be high in sodium, so it may not be the best choice if you are on a ​​low-sodium diet.

As a probiotic source, the concentration of lactobacillus bacteria in sauerkraut can reach well over one trillion CFU per gram.

3

Miso

Miso paste boosts your probiotics.
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Miso is a paste made from fermented soy and is used in many kinds of Japanese and Asian foods. Miso is high in iron and B-complex vitamins but also contains a lot of sodium, so it may not be good if you're cutting back on salt.

As with sauerkraut, the process of fermentation creates a bacteria-rich environment in miso, translating to no less than 100 billion CFU of probiotics per gram.

4

Kefir

Glass with kefir (sour-milk drink)
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Kefir is typically made from fermented cow's milk, so it is similar to yogurt and equally rich in calcium and protein. Kefir can also be made from sheep and goat milk and is often promoted as the healthier and more powerful version of yogurt.

While the volume of probiotics can vary, most quality kefir products will have no less than 70 billion CFU of lactobacillus bacteria per gram.

5

Kimchi

Kimchi boosts your probiotics.
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Kimchi, the Korean national dish, is made primarily with fermented cabbage and has a wonderfully spicy and tangy flavor. Kimchi is an excellent source of probiotics but is also rich in fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and the types of antioxidants commonly found in cruciferous vegetables.

From a probiotic standpoint, expect the same level of CFU per gram as sauerkraut.

6

Tempeh

Tempeh boosts your probiotics.
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Tempeh is made from cooked and fermented soy. It has a delicious nutty flavor and is used in many vegetarian and vegan dishes. Besides its probiotic value, tempeh is an excellent source of calcium, magnesium, potassium, and manganese. As a probiotic source, tempeh delivers around 10 billion CFU of probiotics per gram.

7

Kombucha

kombucha
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Kombucha is sweetened fermented black tea that contains both yeast and bacteria. It originated in China and has a slightly acidic taste that many find appealing. The fermentation process is robust due to the high sugar content and causes the formation of a thick gelatinous layer on top known as SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast).

In terms of probiotic value, kombucha has roughly 10 billion CFU per gram. While healthy, kombucha may not be the ideal probiotic source for people struggling with a Candida yeast infection.

8

Artichokes

Artichokes boosts your probiotics.
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Artichokes are not probiotic per se but can boost gastrointestinal flora as part of a probiotic diet. Artichokes are rich in the prebiotic FOS that digestive bacteria need to thrive. Moreover, they are high in magnesium, potassium, vitamin C, and manganese.

In addition to being rich in dietary fiber, artichokes contain a compound known as cynarin which increases the bile production in the liver and, in turn, rids cholesterol from the body.

9

Bananas

Bananas boosts your probiotics.
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Bananas are also rich in prebiotic FOS and contain pectin and resistant starch that further aid in digestion. In addition, they are an important source of copper, manganese, potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin B-6.

Bananas rank relatively low on the glycemic index (GI) and have next to no fat. From a dietary standpoint, a banana only contains around 100 calories and is mostly comprised of water and carbohydrates.

10

Asparagus

Asparagus boosts your probiotics.
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Asparagus is rich in dietary fiber, including prebiotic FOS which promotes probiotic growth. Asparagus is also high in just about every vitamin and mineral imaginable while being super low in calories.

If there is a minor niggle to eating asparagus, it is that it contains a sulfurous compound called mercaptan which, when broken down during digestion, gives urine a characteristic pungent odor.

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