Our Gut Microbiome & Probiotics
Every single day, our body works to keep us going; breathing, heart beating, eating… the list can go on and on! It’s crucial that we take care of the one body that we’ve got for the rest of our lives! And something that we can do without much effort is watching what we put into our bodies… in specific, our stomaches! Our digestive tract needs to be able to digest all our foods properly, and so it relies on trillions of bacterial cells, known as our gut microbiome.
Not only do we need our gut microbiome to be in tip-top shape for digestion, but also for our day to day lives! Studies have linked a healthy gut to good mental health (1, 2)! And it doesn’t stop there… our gut microbiome is responsible for helping out our immune system (3, 4), enhancing anti-inflammatory properties (5, 6), aiding digestion and nutrient absorption (7, 8, 9), and much more!
Our gut microbiome is made up of good bacteria, known as probiotics, which consists of bacterias like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. And I know what you might be thinking, isn’t bacteria a bad thing? Well, not exactly, as there is both good and bad bacteria in our stomach. Not all bacteria is bad, and we want there to be many more good bacterias in our gut than bad ones. At least that’s how it should be… which is why eating probiotics is so important to maintain a healthy balance of good bacteria to bad!
All of those good bacterias, including the ones that come from consuming probiotics, that live in your gut microbiome are living organisms! And just like anything else that’s living, they need “food” to survive! And that’s exactly where prebiotics come into play. Prebiotics are non-digestible carbs, like dietary fibers, starches, etc., that promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in our gut. To put it simply, prebiotics are the “foods” that probiotics need in order to live and provide us with all of these wonderful health benefits!
Top 6 Probiotic Foods for a Healthier Gut
As we mentioned above, the importance of a healthy gut is evident. The combination of probiotics and prebiotics come with numerous health benefits, from treating IBS, managing diabetes, improving mental health and much more. This is exactly why our bodies need good bacteria in our gut. Let’s talk about some of the top probiotic foods for a healthier gut!
A popular staple throughout many cultures around the world, yogurt has been around for centuries. When milk is fermented with good bacteria, yogurt is made. Sometimes during the processing portion, the millions of good bacteria may be killed. So, make sure you get yogurts that have live cultures, as those are millions of good bacteria that can help your gut microbiome.
Studies have linked yogurt with all of the wonderful health effects of a healthy gut, including better digestion, reduced inflammation, improved lactose tolerance and more (10, 11, 12). Other studies have linked yogurt to improvements in IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), reducing digestive issues (13, 14). The probiotic benefits in yogurt also help with type 2 diabetes, relieving diarrhea (15, 16) … need we go on?
Similar to yogurt, kefir is a fermented yogurt drink, containing millions of beneficial probiotic bacterias. Kefir is made from fermenting milk (typically goat’s milk) with kefir grains (typically bundles of good bacteria), producing a thicker, tart yogurt drink. Kefir is more popular outside of the US, and for good reasons too. Kefir has more beneficial bacterial cultures per gram, as well as a broader range of those good bacterias (17).
Multiple studies have shown that kefir has many beneficial probiotic benefits, including an overall increase in gut microbiome composition (18, 19). Other studies have shown that kefir has anti-inflammatory properties, aiding in overall immune health (20, 21). Talking about immune health, kefir has also been linked to antimicrobial properties, boosting your immune system (22).
You’ve probably heard of this popular fizzy tea drink, served in many health cafes and restaurants. Kombucha is made from mixing black/green tea with symbiotic colonies of bacteria and yeast (or SCOBY for short) and some sugar. The tea then ferments overtime, producing natural carbonation and good probiotic bacteria.
This popular drink has been linked to having anti-inflammatory effects, as well as aiding a noticeable increase in beneficial gut bacteria (23, 24). Another study saw an increase in radical-scavenging agents after kombucha consumption, aiding cancer-fighting cells (25). Something to watch out for is the amount of sugar that’s added into kombuchas. Some companies add a lot of excess sugar, sweetening the taste, but that comes at the cost of the negative effects of sugar. Keep an eye out for low-sugar, organic kombuchas!
Kimchi is a spicy, fermented Korean cabbage dish, also usually made with radish, scallions, and spices. It is served as a side dish, typically with a bowl of rice and vegetables. The lactic acid bacteria found in kimchi is the main source of the probiotic benefits that have been linked with kimchi.
Studies have seen kimchi have cancer-fighting agents due to its probiotic bacteria (26, 27). Kimchi also has been linked to boosts in antioxidant levels, as well as positive increased immune response (28, 29). On top of promotion of digestive health (30), kimchi has been linked to anti-allergic activities, as well as promoted hair growth (31, 32).
Originating as a Japanese seasoning, miso is made from fermenting soybeans, barley, rice or rye, or a combination of all those ingredients. Typically, they are fermented with a good bacterium, known as koji, and typically mixed into miso soup, as well-known dish in Japan. Since miso is made from soybeans, it also is a healthy source of plant protein.
Numerous studies have linked the beneficial probiotic bacteria in miso to improvements in inflammatory bowel disease and IBS (33, 34). Other studies have linked miso to anti-cancer properties (35, 36), as well as immune-boosting agents (37). Another study linked miso to improvements in brain health, as well as reduced chances of heart attacks (38).
Similar to kimchi, sauerkraut is made from chopped cabbage, salt and lactic acid bacteria, creating a fermented condiment. Popular on hot dogs, sauerkraut is a healthy alternative to a vegetable topping. On top of probiotic benefits, sauerkraut has many vitamins and minerals to aid in your overall health.
Sauerkraut has been linked to improvements in IBS and aids in digestive relief due to improvements in the gut microbiome (39). The probiotics found in sauerkraut have also been linked to improvements in brain function, as well as helping prevent mental decline (40). Regular consumption also was linked to anti-inflammatory effects, as well as anti-carcinogenic effects (41).
How To Get More Probiotic Foods In Your Diet
With all of these foods, making a fun meal couldn’t be easier! And when you combine them with chicken or beef bone broth, these meals can be packed with all the probiotic gut benefits that you need! Both bone broth and collagen have tons of gut health benefits, like supporting our intestinal lining, aiding digestion, reducing IBS and more (42, 43, 44, 45, 46).
Here are a couple recipes that include some of the probiotic foods mentioned above!
You can fill up on some wonderful soups and salads that are made with our much-loved bone broths, packed with gut-healing nutrients. And to add some worldwide fun, you can mix in some sauerkraut with your bratwurst stew! To finish it all off, a refreshing parfait and kombucha that are filled with probiotic goodness!
Give some of these meals a try and let us know how you have incorporated probiotic foods into your lifestyle!