Including probiotics in our diet is a great way to support our gut health and can also help resolve many other health issues.
As part one of this feature explains, there are many probiotic supplements available that can offer some health benefits – but there is also an abundance of natural sources. Here, we look at six more sources that are easy to incorporate into daily life and have many other benefits.
This fermented soybean past is popular in Asian cuisine, particularly in Japan. The paste can be used to make a soup or broth, as well as incorporated into dishes as a seasoning. As well as being rich in probiotics, miso is high in vitamin B12 and contains trace elements of zinc, copper and manganese.
Like miso, natto is a popular traditional Japanese dish made from fermented soybeans – but these ones are left whole. It contains the probiotic strain bacillus subtilis, giving dish a stringy or sticky consistency. Natto is also high in protein and vitamin K.
Pickling has been popular with cultures all around the world for centuries, but it’s only recently that people have become more aware of its benefits as a probiotic food. Traditionally, pickle is fermented using salt and water or vinegar, which reacts with the natural sugars in the vegetables to produce a number of probiotic strains (most commonly varieties of lactobacillus that grow from lactic acid created through the fermentation process). Pickle also retains vitamins and minerals from the vegetables used.
This traditional European pickled cabbage dish is now known to be one of the best natural sources of probiotics – and can have trillions of good bacteria in just one serve. It’s also easy to make, either traditionally or with the support of a starter culture that can lead to a more probiotic-rich version.
Yet another fermented soybean food, tempeh is known as a great plant-based source of protein. It’s also rich in probiotics, and minerals including manganese, magnesium, calcium and iron.
Yoghurt is one of the most well known sources of probiotics around. The key thing to remember about yoghurt is that the probiotic levels vary significantly depending on the type of yoghurt that’s made or bought. Look for natural, unflavoured varieties that also list the probiotic strains to get the most benefit from probiotics in yoghurt.
As awareness of the benefits of probiotics grows, so too does the research behind it and the foods that contain it. So you can expect to hear a lot more about all these natural sources of probiotics, as well as many others, in the future.