Probiotics are small, live microorganisms (bacteria & yeast) naturally found in foods such as yogurt, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, or taken as supplements (pills or powder form). There are many types of bacteria that are classified as probiotics but most commonly they come from two groups, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. Probiotics are often linked with better gut health but now studies are exploring their potential health effects on brain health, metabolic disease, oral health, autoimmune conditions, anxiety and so on.
Each person has an unique microbiota so it makes it really challenging to specify how much probiotics one needs on a daily basis, or which probiotic is best for one’s health and wellness. Also, remember that the specific microbes in fermented foods vary by manufacturer, batch and location. If you are just starting out with probiotics, I would say eat 1-2 probiotic-rich foods on a regular basis and see how you feel. It is recommended to eat small amounts of different probiotic-rich foods regularly for microbial diversity vs. eating just one kind of probiotic-rich food.
Live probiotic cultures are destroyed at around 115°F so if you are looking for probiotic-benefits, use them at the end of cooking, enjoy as a topping or a side dish. You can also stir into soups or sauces at the last minute. If buying store-bought, opt for raw and unpasteurized probiotic products because the process of pasteurization heats up foods to kill both harmful and good bacteria. However, fermented foods still contains enzymes, vitamins, and minerals and have a better digestibility so there are nutritional benefits, just not probiotic-benefits.
Smoothie with Milk Kefir
Milk kefir is a fermented milk beverage really close to drinkable yogurt. Compared to yogurt, milk kefir contains more strains of probiotics.
Add milk kefir in smoothies instead of yogurt for a change. I like kefir in my Mango Cardamom Kefir Lassi.
Chia seeds are packed with nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and many micronutrients. They make a refreshing breakfast pudding, which you can make overnight with yogurt/kefir, milk and chia seeds in a bowl, give it a stir, and place it in the refrigerator.
I have recipes from the blog, both made with milk but I’d suggest adding 1/2 milk and 1/2 yogurt or trying it out with kefir.
Breakfast Toast with kimchi or sauerkraut
Stock up on probiotic-rich condiments
Probiotic-rich condiments such as as lacto-fermented hot sauce & cultured-butter are a wonderful addition to your breakfast table. Use hot sauce on your eggs or hash brown, or spread cultured butter on your toast to start your day with little probiotics.
43 Fermented & Probiotic-Filled Condiments
Lunch + Dinner Ideas
Sandwich/Wrap with lacto-fermented condiments
Probiotic bowl is a DIY type bowl, including your carbohydrates (grains like farro, rice, bulgur, quinoa etc), loaded with protein and veggies of your choice, toppings and condiments like sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt-based dressings etc. Here are some inspirations for you:
Salad Loaded with Probiotics
Just like with probiotic bowls, salad is a great place to incorporate different probiotics such as:
Make salad dressing with yogurt, kefir, lacto-fermented hummus, or lacto-fermented mustard
Chop saeurkraut and kimchi as a topping
Juice of sauerkraut, kimchi, or leftover lacto-fermented brine can be used in vinaigrette. Try Gut-Friendly Kachumber – Easy Chopped Salad
Drizzle lacto-fermented hot sauce on top or use them in dressing/vinaigrette
Snacks + Beverage Ideas
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If you are interested to learn more about fermentation, I’d highly recommend you check out this book, The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Katz.
I often do workshops on gut health & fermentation and currently, have a pre-recorded class on Kimchi Making – 2 Ways which you can watch at your own pace and learn how to make homemade kimchi.
I hope this post will inspire you to incorporate more probiotic-rich foods on a daily basis. If you have a favorite meal or a recipe with probiotics, please leave a comment below.