The scientific link behind probiotics, their role in preserving and promoting good gut health, and general physical and mental wellness are fairly well known by the public.
In fact, probiotics are one of the most lucrative and popular markets among nutritional supplements – both online and in stores.
That’s because good gut health helps regulate hormones which in turn help proper brain activity that can stave off depression or anxiety.
But pre-packaged probiotics can cost you an arm and a leg and really aren’t necessary if you are eating the right foods. And the good news is that it doesn’t have to come in the form of yogurt or kefir (the most popular go-tos)! This is great news particularly if you lead a dairy-free lifestyle or are lactose intolerant.
Here are some flavorful and unique food alternatives that really pack a punch when it comes to digestive health and good gut bacteria:
Who doesn’t love pickles? When cucumbers have been pickled in salty water and fermented, they contain probiotics. They are also low in calories and high in vitamin K. But keep in mind that pickles made with vinegar do not have probiotics. (Delicious, though they are).
Kombucha is a fermented tea that is known to have a wide range of health benefits including probiotic activity. But be forewarned – the taste isn’t for everyone, as it can be very bitter. Definitely not for the fair at heart (or stomach).
Popular as an Asian side dish, Kimchi is a spicy Korean food usually derived from fermented cabbage. Its lactic acid bacteria may promote positive digestive health. But again, kimchi is a flavor not suited for everyone.
Not as common as the others, Miso is a traditional Japanese seasoning that is made with soybeans. Miso is fermented and rich in several important nutrients. It may even reduce the risk of cancer and stroke, especially in women.
Similar to miso, tempeh is also a fermented soybean product and a perfect protein for vegetarians and vegans. It also contains Vitamin B12.
Less heard of than the others, natto is yet another fermented soy product that is a staple in Japanese kitchens and is used with side dishes like rice. It contains a high amount of vitamin K2, which may help prevent osteoporosis and heart attacks.
Of course, it may be easier to just buy probiotics out of the bottle (because let’s be honest…. how easy is it to find natto at your local grocery store?) However, as with any kind of supplement or vitamin, they just don’t work as well as eating directly from the food source.
Try introducing some of these foods into your diet and see if you don’t feel better, happier, and healthier in just a few weeks!