Probiotics Rich Foods

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probiotics rich foods

Probiotics are live microorganisms that confer health benefits on human beings when consumed in adequate amounts.  They are referred to as “good” or “friendly” bacteria because they can help maintain the balance of bacteria in the gut and other parts of the body.

Why are they important?

Gut Health

Probiotics are important because they play a critical role in maintaining a healthy gut microbiome, which is important for proper digestion and absorption of nutrients, as well as immune system function and overall gut health.

Benefits elsewhere

Research has also suggested that a healthy gut microbiome may be linked to a range of other health benefits, such as improved mental health, reduced inflammation, and a lower risk of certain diseases, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.

What to consume to get sufficient probiotics?

This article is all about that question. I am Dr. Tun Min, working as a GP at NHS UK. Many patients used to ask me what to consume to get sufficient probiotics and it is implied that there has been an increase in the awareness of probiotic consumption these days. I will try to elaborate on some probiotics-rich foods and their health benefits on several aspects of our body.


What do they contain?

It is regarded as the most effective and accessible probiotic that contains live and active cultures of friendly bacteria, specifically Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. These bacteria ferment the milk sugar in the milk to produce lactic acid causing the milk to thicken and become yogurt.

How do they work?

The live and active cultures of bacteria in yogurt multiply and create more of themselves. When consumed, these healthy bacteria can easily multiply inside your gut and maintain the health of your whole digestive tract.

What to consider when choosing yogurt?

In order to obtain a full probiotic benefit from yogurt,  it’s important to choose a variety that contains live and active cultures and has not been heat-treated or pasteurized since the latter processings can kill off the beneficial bacteria.  


What is Kefir?

It is a fermented milk drink made by adding kefir grains to any milk. Kefir grains are not cereal grains, but rather cultures of lactic acid bacteria and yeast that look a bit like cauliflower.

Contains multiple strains of different probiotics

The bacteria and yeast in kefir grains can vary, but they often include strains of Lactobacillus, Streptococcus, and Bifidobacterium, which are known to improve gut health and boost the immune system. Kefir also contains beneficial yeast, such as Saccharomyces kefir, which can help to balance the gut microbiome.

Additional benefits

Since Kefir is high in protein, calcium, and other vitamins and minerals, it can support gut health, bone health, and overall well-being.


Processing Matters

Pickles can be a good source of probiotics if they are fermented using live cultures. It is a process of preserving vegetables in a vinegar or brine solution, and traditionally, this was done using fermentation to create a sour taste and preserve the vegetables.

Create friendly bacteria and kill the enemy ones

During the process, beneficial bacteria break down the sugars in the vegetables and produce lactic acid. This lactic acid not only gives the pickles their distinctive sour taste but also creates an acidic environment that helps to preserve the pickles and inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria.

Make yourself at home

It is important to note that not all pickles contain probiotics or live cultures. Some ready-made pickles are treated with vinegar and even some preservative that contains no probiotics

Therefore, the best way to make probiotic-rich pickles is to make them at home by using fresh vegetables, salt, and water.  


Mutiflavoured, Multi Probiotics

It is also a form of pickle which is a traditional Korean dish made by fermenting vegetables, usually cabbage or radish, with a variety of seasonings such as chili flakes, garlic, ginger, and fish sauce. During the fermentation process, beneficial bacteria, or probiotics, “Lactobacillus plantarum and Lactobacillus kimchi” are produced. These bacteria break down the sugars in the vegetables and produce lactic acid, which helps to preserve the kimchi and gives it its sour taste.

Beneficial for overall gut health

The beneficial bacteria in kimchi can help to improve gut health by promoting the growth of other beneficial bacteria in the gut, and by inhibiting the growth of harmful bacteria. Additionally, kimchi is high in fibre and antioxidants, which can also support gut health and overall wellness.

Always look for how the fermentation process was undergone

However, it’s important to note that the probiotic content of kimchi can vary depending on how it’s made and stored. For the best probiotic benefits, look for kimchi that is made using traditional fermentation methods and has not been pasteurized or heated, as heat can destroy the beneficial bacteria.


Which kinds of cheese are rich in probiotics? 

Although not all types of in-store cheese are rich in probiotics, some kinds of cheese that stick to the traditional method of processing without being pasteurized or heat preservations usually contain probiotics. 

Cheeses that are typically fermented using live cultures and may contain probiotics are Cheddar cheese, Gouda cheese, Cottage cheese, Feta cheese and Blue cheese.

Some unwanted side effects

Most cheeses are rich in calories and salt. Therefore it is recommended not to consume in excess amounts since there are several means to get probiotics from the diet. 

Tips for choosing probiotic-rich foods

  • Always check for labels that say “contains live and active cultures.” It is an indicator of food containing probiotics.
  • Choose fermented foods which are processed minimally.  Because heat-treated or pasteurized foods will not provide you with the full benefits of the probiotics.
  • It is advisable to Incorporate a variety of probiotic-rich foods into your diet. Since different types of probiotics can be found in different foods, it’s important to eat a variety of fermented foods to get a broad range of probiotics.
  • Try to make your own fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, kombucha, and kimchi. It is not only cost-effective but also can avoid unnecessary processing of commercial products.
  • Check for added sugars and calorie content since some food can contain high amounts of added sugars and calorie content despite the fact that they are rich in probiotics. 
  • It is better to store your prepared or purchased probiotic foods in the refrigerator since extreme temperatures can kill the living beneficial cultures or bacteria

Are there any precautions on consuming probiotics? 

Although probiotics offer many potential health benefits, it’s crucial to be aware of some precautions when consuming them. 

  • Talk to your doctor if you have a weakened immune system: While probiotics are generally considered safe for healthy individuals if you have a weakened immune system or are undergoing medical treatment, always declare your doctor before starting to consume probiotics.
  • Start slowly: If you’re new to consuming probiotics, start with a small amount and gradually increase your intake over time. It helps to adjust your gut to be familiar with healthy bacteria compromising potential side effects
  • There may be some side effects: Although generally regarded as safe, some individuals may experience mild side effects like bloating, gas, or diarrhea. Should you have any symptoms like that, it is recommended to consult a healthcare provider.
  • Choose reputable sources: When purchasing probiotic supplements, try to search for reputable brands that have been tested for purity and potency. 

Conclusion: Making Probiotic-Rich Foods Part of Your Healthy Diet

In conclusion, incorporating probiotic-rich foods into your healthy diet is a great way to support your gut health and overall well-being. Fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, kimchi, and kombucha are all excellent sources of probiotics and can be easily added to your meals or snacks.

By making probiotic-rich foods a regular part of your diet, you can help support a healthy gut microbiome, improve digestion and nutrient absorption, and potentially reduce the risk of certain diseases as well as some additional benefits for your overall well-being. So why not start adding some delicious fermented foods to your meals and snacks today? Your gut will thank you!

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Dr Tun Min is s GP working in NHS UK and writing articles about supplements and vitamins based on personal clinical experience and clinical research.

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