8 High-Probiotic Foods to Restore Gut Health (That Actually Taste Good)
“Gut health” is a topic that’s all abuzz right now. Nutritionists, doctors, and diet influencers are talking all about the importance of probiotics, prebiotics, and micronutrients to boost your gut.
As functional medicine doctors, we’ve been talking about and addressing gut health for years. You could say, “we told you so.”
Thanks to the highly-processed American diet, most of us need a good dose of foods that heal the gut. But it’s hard to know where to start. When we hear “probiotics,” most of us picture jars of food that have been pickling for hundreds of years. That doesn’t sound appetizing in the least!
We’ve got your back. Here are 8 foods high in probiotics that restore gut health… and that taste amazing.
What’s the Deal with Your Gut?
Your gut is involved in the entire digestive process—from the moment you chew and swallow a meal to when you make a bathroom trip hours later. But gut impact doesn’t stop there. We’re not exaggerating when we say that the gut impacts every other aspect of your health.
The gut regulates all the nutrients your body ingests from the food you eat and makes sure that the body gets the material it needs to function properly—and to flourish. When your gut doesn’t function properly, your cells don’t absorb the nutrients they need.
Did you know that the gut microbiome comprises over 75% of our immune system? Studies have also identified the gut as a “second brain,” and therefore the gut also influences our mental health. The gut produces huge amounts of neurotransmitters and serotonin, which affect our mood, sleep, and anxiety.
To make this long story short: the gut microbiome regulates our digestion, absorbs key nutrients for vitality, and impacts our mental health. Read more facts about gut health right here.
When Your Gut Is Off-Whack
Ideally, the gut microbiome is perfectly balanced with the right chemicals, nutrients, and bacteria to function properly. Your body absorbs all the nutrients it needs from food, produces the right amount of chemicals and hormones, and your immune system is snazzy.
For most people, the gut bacteria is off-kilter. This happens due to a variety of factors, from poor nutrition to chemical exposure to allergies to stress.
Without healthy gut bacteria, we don’t get the nutrients we need, and sometimes harmful bacteria leak into unwanted places. This results in a variety of health problems: malnutrition, anxiety or depression, bloating, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and more.
What are Probiotics and How Do They Restore Gut Health?
Many different types of foods contain probiotics, which are live bacteria that have a positive impact on gut health.
Probiotics have been shown to:
- Improve digestion
- Reduce gas / bloating
- Regulate weight
- Benefit the heart
- Boost the immune system
- Help with depression, anxiety, stress
- Improve chronic fatigue
- Clear the skin
Many people take probiotics via capsule, but fermented foods contain a boatload of probiotics that contain these health benefits. As functional medicine doctors, we encourage our patients to use food as their medicine!
Unfortunately, fermented foods don’t normally taste great. Good news is, there are a lot of ways you can make these foods not just palatable but delicious!
Restore Gut Health with These 8 High-Probiotic Foods
This high-probiotic food is a triple whammy—it’s tasty, easy to find, and a great soda replacement. Instead of throwing back a drink that’s loaded with sugar, high fructose corn syrup, or aspartame, kombucha is delicious and beneficial to gut health.
GT’s Kombucha is one of the most popular brands out there. If you’re reluctant to try kombucha, they’re sure to have a flavor you’ll love.
To make kombucha healthier and more affordable, consider making your own. Here’s a beginner’s tutorial for brewing your own kombucha tea.
Another tasty, accessible, and nutritious way to get in your probiotics! Yogurt is rich in probiotic cultures that ferment milk. Studies have also found yogurt to improve calcium levels, bone health, and digestion.
When selecting yogurt, make sure to choose options that contain live bacteria cultures and are low in added sugars. Some people find yogurt too sour, but there are many ways to make yogurt more palatable.
Yogurt makes a great meal or snack staple: scooped on top of oatmeal, with a side of fruit, or in a smoothie. Some people may prefer to use yogurt in savory recipes, such as dressings or spicy dips.
Yogurt bowls are popular and tasty ways to eat more probiotics. Check out our Paleo Sweet Potato Yogurt Bowl recipe.
A winner when it comes to probiotics—sauerkraut is rich in fermented bacteria, vitamin C, sodium, potassium, antioxidants, and vitamin K.
Most people pair sauerkraut with a tasty selection of meat or atop a favorite side dish. It’s an easy way to sneak in probiotics if you’re not a fan of the taste or texture.
When purchasing sauerkraut, choose an unpasteurized option. Bubbies Sauerkraut is popular and tasty, or you can make your own. And check out this Sauerkraut Bacon Potato Soup recipe to start using your sauerkraut!
A popular spice in Japanese cuisine, miso is high in probiotics, protein, fiber, and other vitamins and minerals. Miso is made by fermenting soy and has a salty taste.
If cheese is a staple in your house, look for a cheese that contains live or active cultures next time you shop. Gouda, mozzarella, cheddar, and cottage cheese are ones to look for.
In addition to being high in protein and healthy fats, it’s chock full of vitamin B12, selenium, and good bacteria to give your gut a boost.
Use cheese the way you normally would: on top of salad, pizza, with a side of veggies or fruit, or try a new recipe!
More High-Probiotic Foods
We couldn’t stop with only five high-probiotic foods to restore gut health, so here are six more foods you can incorporate into your diet!
Many of these foods are delicious on their own or can easily be incorporated into a new recipe to try!
How to Heal Your Gut in the Long Run
Sometimes it takes more than high-probiotic foods to restore gut health. At Five Journeys, we give our patients a personalized gut healing strategy based on their unique health situations. We offer functional medicine services and nutrition coaching to restore gut health and help our patients feel their best—inside and out. Book a free discovery call to get an assessment of your current health situation and see how we can help.