Certain live bacteria and yeasts, also known as probiotics, are the good cops that are beneficial for your digestive health. It is said that 70% of the human immune system resides in the gut. Probiotics help move food through the gut. Besides, probiotics are also therapeutic against postoperative complications and inflammatory bowel diseases.
They also exert anti-bacterial and anti-cancer properties in the gut, due to the ability to lessen the effect of the immune system.1 Many probiotic foods available in the market today. They are usually lactic acid producing bacteria that are in the form of yogurt, or fermented milk.
Since 1900, a lot of research has taken place to understand the role of fermented dairy products and their benefits. Probiotics works along with the intestinal microbes aiding food digestion. The best thing is that we can consume probiotics in the natural form without having to resort to supplements.2 Here are some of the best probiotics available out there.
In many cultures, a meal is not complete without a cup of fresh homemade yogurt and they were right. Most of the initial research on probiotics was on the basis of fermented milk and yogurt. Dairy products like yogurt play a predominant role as probiotic carriers.
Also, with advanced technology, many of the fermented items have been optimized for greater survival. While several flavored yogurts are available to cater to all palates, even consuming plain yogurt is good for you, especially with diseases like diarrhea and stomach infections.3
Kefir is a fermented milk beverage produced by the symbiotic association of bacteria and yeasts in kefir grains. It is a traditional product of the Caucasus region and derived from the Turkish word “keyif”, which translates to feeling good. A large number of microorganisms present in kefir make it a natural probiotic.
Kefir is said to have nutritional and therapeutic features that help in the treatment of gastrointestinal problems, hypertension, and allergies. Studies conclude that kefir has healing, anti-inflammatory, and anti-tumoral properties, which promote resistance of the mucosa to intestinal infections. It may be ideal to include this natural probiotic in your diet.4
3. Korean Kimchi
A traditional Korean dish prepared by fermenting vegetables, predominantly with probiotic lactic acid bacteria, and the Napa cabbage is the main ingredient in kimchi. It is essentially a vegetable probiotic, and its effects are said to be similar to that of yogurt. Many cruciferous vegetables and other healthy, functional foods such as garlic, ginger, and red pepper powder are added to flavor and season the kimchi.
This makes kimchi a very healthy lunch option. Research has concluded that the therapeutic properties of kimchi include anti-cancer, anti-obesity, anti-constipation, colorectal health promotion, probiotic properties, brain health promotion, immune promotion, and skin health promotion. Even though you may find it a bit difficult to get used to the unique taste, Kimchi is well worth the effort.5
4. Dark Chocolate
While you may be surprised to find the inclusion of dark chocolate on this list, it is indeed a suitable probiotic carrier. A study conducted to develop a chocolate product incorporating a potential probiotic lactobacillus plantarum (a lactobacillus) isolated from fermented cocoa beans, successfully showing the presence of probiotic bacteria. The only thing to keep in mind is to not eat this as a dessert or an occasional probiotic boost as it is high in calories.6
5. Japanese foods
Many traditional Japanese foods are fermented foods containing non-toxic probiotic micro-organisms. Examples are black rice vinegar (kurosu), soy sauce (shoyu), soybean-barley paste (miso), natto, and tempeh. Scientific research conducted on these foods has proven their effects on metabolism and/or immune system in animal and/or human cells. So, it may not be a bad idea to explore Japanese cuisine for the sake of good health and of course great taste.7
So there you have it, the best probiotic foods out there. These foods are not just great for your digestive system but also help strengthen your immune system by fighting the bad bacteria.
|↑1||Parvez, S., Karim A. Malik, S. Ah Kang, and H‐Y. Kim. “Probiotics and their fermented food products are beneficial for health.” Journal of applied microbiology 100, no. 6 (2006): 1171-1185.|
|↑2||Fung, Wai-Yee, Huey-Shi Lye, Ting-Jin Lim, Chiu-Yin Kuan, and Min-Tze Liong. “Roles of Probiotic on Gut Health.” In Probiotics, pp. 139-165. Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 2011.|
|↑3||Heller, Knut J. “Probiotic bacteria in fermented foods: product characteristics and starter organisms.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 73, no. 2 (2001): 374s-379s.|
|↑4||Leite, Analy Machado de Oliveira, Marco Antonio Lemos Miguel, Raquel Silva Peixoto, Alexandre Soares Rosado, Joab Trajano Silva, and Vania Margaret Flosi Paschoalin. “Microbiological, technological and therapeutic properties of kefir: a natural probiotic beverage.” Brazilian Journal of Microbiology 44, no. 2 (2013): 341-349.|
|↑5||Park, Kun-Young, Ji-Kang Jeong, Young-Eun Lee, and James W. Daily III. “Health benefits of kimchi (Korean fermented vegetables) as a probiotic food.” Journal of medicinal food 17, no. 1 (2014): 6-20.|
|↑6||Foong, Yei Jin, Shoo Thien Lee, Nazaruddin Ramli, Yen Nee Tan, and Mohd Khan Ayob. “Incorporation of potential probiotic Lactobacillus plantarum isolated from fermented cocoa beans into dark chocolate: bacterial viability and physicochemical properties analysis.” Journal of Food Quality 36, no. 3 (2013): 164-171.|
|↑7||Murooka, Yoshikatsu, and Mitsuo Yamshita. “Traditional healthful fermented products of Japan.” Journal of industrial microbiology & biotechnology 35, no. 8 (2008): 791.|