13 Great Probiotic Foods You Should Be Eating

13 great probiotic foods - Dr. Axe

Are you getting enough probiotic-rich foods in your diet? Chances are you’re probably not. Probiotics are good bacteria that primarily line your gut and are responsible for nutrient absorption and supporting your immune system.

Probiotics are essential for your digestive health, but did you know there are hundreds of other health benefits of consuming probiotic-rich foods that you might not be aware of?

In this article I want to cover the 13 probiotic foods you should consider adding to your diet today and how they can benefit you.

What are Probiotics?

If you don’t have enough probiotics, the side effects can include: digestive disorders, skin issues, candida, autoimmune disease and frequent colds and flus.

Historically, we had plenty of probiotics in our diet from eating fresh foods from good soil and by fermenting our foods to keep them from spoiling.

However, today because of refrigeration and dangerous agricultural practices like soaking our foods with chlorine, our food contains little to no probiotics and most foods today actually contain antibiotics that kill off the good bacteria in our bodies.

By adding more probiotic foods into your diet, you could see all of the following health benefits:

  • Stronger immune system
  • Improved digestion
  • Increased energy from production of vitamin B12
  • Better breath because probiotics destroy candida
  • Healthier skin, since probiotics improve eczema and psoriasis
  • Reduced cold and flu
  • Healing from leaky gut and inflammatory bowel disease
  • Weight loss

Sound good? If you want all of these benefits, then it’s time to start consuming these probiotic foods for better health. In fact, you should eat a variety of types of probiotics as each one offers a different type of beneficial bacteria to help the body in a variety of ways.

7 Types of ‘Friendly’ Bacteria

  • Lactobacillus acidophilus
  • Lactobacillus bulgarius
  • Lactobacillus reuteri
  • Streptococcus thermophilus
  • Saccharomyces boulardii
  • Bifidobacterium bifidum
  • Bacillus subtilis

13 Great Probiotic Foods

1. Kefir – Similar to yogurt, this fermented dairy product is a unique combination of milk and fermented kefir grains. Kefir has been consumed for well over 3,000 years; The term kefir originated in Russia and Turkey and means “feeling good.” It has a slightly acidic and tart flavor and contains anywhere from 10 to 34 strains of probiotics. Kefir is similar to yogurt, but because it is fermented with yeast and more bacteria, the final product is higher in probiotics.  

2. Cultured Vegetables (Sauerkraut and Kimchi) – Made from fermented cabbage and other vegetables, sauerkraut is not diverse in probiotics but is high in organic acids, which give food its sour taste and support the growth of good bacteria. Sauerkraut is extremely popular in Germany today. Kimchi is a cousin to sauerkraut and is the Korean take on cultured veggies. Both of the fermented formulas are also high in enzymes, which can aid digestion.

 

 

3. Kombucha –  Is an effervescent fermentation of black tea that is started by using a SCOBY, also known as a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast. Kombucha has been around for over 2,000 years, originating around Japan. Many claims have been made about kombucha, but its primary health benefits include digestive support, increased energy and liver detoxification.

4. Coconut Kefir – Made by fermenting the juice of young coconuts with kefir grains,  this dairy-free option for kefir has some of the same probiotics as traditional dairy kefir but is typically not as high in probiotics. Still, it has several strains that are beneficial for your health. Coconut kefir has a great flavor, and you can add a bit of stevia, water and lime juice to it and make a great-tasting drink.

5. Natto – A popular dish in Japan consisting of fermented soybeans. Natto contains the extremely powerful probiotic bacillus subtilis, which has been proven to bolster your immune system, support cardiovascular health and enhance digestion of vitamin K2. Also, Natto contains a powerful anti-inflammatory enzyme called nattokinase that has been proven to fight cancer.

6. Yogurt – Possibly the most popular probiotic food is live cultured yogurt or greek yogurt made from the milk of cows, goats or sheep. Yogurt in most cases can rank at the top of probiotic foods if it comes from grass-fed animals and has not been pasteurized. The problem is there is a large variation on the quality of yogurts on the market today. It is recommend when buying yogurt to look for three things: first, that it comes from goat’s or sheep’s milk, second, that it is grass-fed and third, that it is organic.

 

13 great probiotic foods - Dr. Axe

7. Kvass – Has been a common fermented beverage in Eastern Europe since ancient times. It was traditionally made by fermenting rye or barley, but in more recent years has been created using beets, fruit along with other root vegetables like carrots. Kvass uses lactobacilli probiotics and is known for its blood and liver-cleansing properties and has a mild sour flavor.

8. Raw Cheese – Goat’s milk, sheep’s milk and A2 cow’s soft cheeses are particularly high in probiotics, including thermophillus, bifudus, bulgaricus and acidophilus. Always buy raw and unpasteurized cheeses if you want to receive any probiotics.

9. Apple cider vinegar  Great for controlling blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes and even weight loss, apple cider vinegar is a great daily addition that will bring many benefits including providing probiotics. Drink a small bit each day or use it as a salad dressing.

10. Salted gherkin pickles  These fermented tasty treats are also a little recognized source of probiotics. Choose a smaller food manufacturer that uses organic products. If you can find a local maker, you’ll be getting some of the best probiotics for your health.

11. Brine-cured olives Olives that are brine cured are an excellent source of probiotics too. Like with salted gherkin pickles, be sure to select a product that is organic first. Next, be certain that your olives aren’t made from a huge manufacturer. Choose a smaller company that advertises probiotics. Also make sure that your olives don’t contain sodium benzoate.

12. Tempeh  Hailing from Indonesia, this fermented soybean product is another source of probiotics. Tempeh is created by adding a tempeh starter to soybeans. The product is then left to sit for a day or two. The result is a cake-like product.

You can eat tempeh raw or by boiling it and eating it with miso. It can also be used as a substitute for meat in a stir fry meal. Tempeh is commonly deep fried before eating, but, beware, this can greatly reduce its nutritional value.

13. Miso – Miso is a traditional Japanese spice found in many of their traditional foods. If you’ve ever been to a Japanese restaurant, you may have seen their miso soup.

It is created by fermenting soybean, barley or brown rice with koji. Koji is a fungus, and the fermentation process takes anywhere from a few days to a few years to complete.

Miso can be made into a soup, spread on crackers, in place of butter or just about anywhere you want.

If you want learn even more probiotics rich foods and the best probiotic supplements check out this article on Probiotic Benefits.

What is your favorite probiotic food?  Have you experienced health benefits from taking probiotics?

Read Next: 10 Proven Probiotic Yogurt Benefits & Nutrition Facts


From the sound of it, you might think leaky gut only affects the digestive system, but in reality it can affect more. Because Leaky Gut is so common, and such an enigma, I’m offering a free webinar on all things leaky gut. Click here to learn more about the webinar.


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  1. Anke-Margriet Geurts says:

    I have a histamine-intolerance and all the above mentioned probiotic foods are a problem for me. Do you have any recommendations/alternatives?

  2. Louisa says:

    I also am intolerant to histsmine but have read so e conflicting reports about bacillus subtillis . Do you think they Could they worsen an already leaky gut ?
    Many thanks

  3. Heather says:

    My 10 year old son just got done with 5 days of intense IV antibiotics for a ruptured appendix. What probiotics or foods would be best to help replace the good bacteria in his digestive tract?

  4. Helen says:

    If I have a yeast infection or candida, are probiotic foods advisable? Seems like I’ve read that in this case it is not good to eat sauerkraut or any other fermented food. What’s your opinion?

  5. Lindy J. Combs says:

    I have struggled with systemic yeast infection for EIGHT YEARS…AND taken probiotics from various companies. I sometimes consume high quality, non-gmo plain yogurt. There are, however, always statements from companies about the stomach acid killig the good bacteria, and therefore they coat their products and capsules with something that prevents the bacteria from being released until it gets beyond the stomach. Please comment, Dr. Axe?. It does not make sense to me that fermented foods like sauerkrat’s bacteria would be destroyed by the stomach acid.

  6. Ana_D says:

    I have noticed that 100ml of kefir has about 4 grams of sugar, and if you drink about a cup, you get up to 10 grams of sugar.
    Where is this sugar coming from? I have just been in Germany and all their organic and standard brands have the same amount of sugar. Is this naturally occurring milk sugar or is it added to enhance flavor? I have tasted an organic brand from London’s Whole Foods, which had barely any sugar in it, but since I don’t live there I have no access. What can you do about reducing the sugar in kefir or is it just what it is?

  7. Fred C says:

    Hi, Dr Axe,
    I’ve just recently started using kefir in a breakfast smoothie. I’ve modified your recipe for the super greens powder and whey protein powder drink. I use about a cup of frozen blueberries, 1 cup of kefir, 1 cup of almond milk. 1 scoop of super greens, 2 scoops of chocolate whey powder, 1 tsp of amla fruit powder and sometimes I’ll throw in 2 or 3 organic prunes I’ll have to admit when I first started doing this I wasn’t exactly overwhelmed by the flavor, not that it tasted bad or unpleasant, just wasn’t anything I was used to. Now though, I look forward to it every morning and sometimes when I’m pressed for time, I’ll make another one instead of cooking lunch or supper. I’ve been following your advice pretty closely, not everything you recommend is to my liking or fits what I’m striving for of course, but since I began following your advice, I’ve begun feeling better and better all the time. That’s physically, mentally and emotionally. I’ve lost 65 pounds since last September and am now half way to my goal. Thanks for the inspiration and the practical advice.

  8. Michelle says:

    I make my own Kombucha tea and kefir and drink both daily now. I have struggled with Candida my whole life and it doesn’t bother me anymore now. The initial die-off was very bad though and I was sick for a few weeks during that time. Now I am doing great!!

  9. Eva says:

    My comet is about yogurt. in the article is mention about greek yogurt, I think that the world need to be educated that the name greek yogurt is actually a thick kind of yogurt artificially made to have this thick texture, and actually the best yogurt is not greek, is BULGARIAN YOGURT, and popularity of yogurt actually start from BULGARIAN YOGURT. Here is a little history taken from Wikipedia :

    Stamen Grigorov (1878–1945), a Bulgarian student of medicine in Geneva, first examined the microflora of the Bulgarian yogurt. In 1905, he described it as consisting of a spherical and a rod-like lactic acid bacteria. In 1907, the rod-like bacterium was called Bacillus bulgaricus (now Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus). The Russian Nobel laureate and biologist Ilya Ilyich Mechnikov (also seen as Élie Metchnikoff), from the Institut Pasteur in Paris, was influenced by Grigorov’s work and hypothesized that regular consumption of yogurt was responsible for the unusually long lifespans of Bulgarian peasants. Believing Lactobacillus to be essential for good health, Mechnikov worked to popularize yogurt as a foodstuff throughout Europe.

    I think that the people NEED TO KNOW that when they are looking good yogurt they need to look for yogurt which contain LACTOBACILLUS BULGARICUS.
    I will really appreciate if you can help of popularization the truth about the REAL HELTY BULGARIAN YOGURT.

    • wingedshadowwolf says:

      That is cool and good to know. Also, Greek yogurt is basically regular yogurt with the whey drained out. Lowfat varieties seem to have more thickeners and fillers. A lot of regular yogurts have many strains of good bacteria added and the types are usually listed on the package.

  1. Anke-Margriet Geurts says:

    I have a histamine-intolerance and all the above mentioned probiotic foods are a problem for me. Do you have any recommendations/alternatives?

  2. Louisa says:

    I also am intolerant to histsmine but have read so e conflicting reports about bacillus subtillis . Do you think they Could they worsen an already leaky gut ?
    Many thanks

  3. Heather says:

    My 10 year old son just got done with 5 days of intense IV antibiotics for a ruptured appendix. What probiotics or foods would be best to help replace the good bacteria in his digestive tract?

  4. Helen says:

    If I have a yeast infection or candida, are probiotic foods advisable? Seems like I’ve read that in this case it is not good to eat sauerkraut or any other fermented food. What’s your opinion?

  5. Lindy J. Combs says:

    I have struggled with systemic yeast infection for EIGHT YEARS…AND taken probiotics from various companies. I sometimes consume high quality, non-gmo plain yogurt. There are, however, always statements from companies about the stomach acid killig the good bacteria, and therefore they coat their products and capsules with something that prevents the bacteria from being released until it gets beyond the stomach. Please comment, Dr. Axe?. It does not make sense to me that fermented foods like sauerkrat’s bacteria would be destroyed by the stomach acid.

  6. Ana_D says:

    I have noticed that 100ml of kefir has about 4 grams of sugar, and if you drink about a cup, you get up to 10 grams of sugar.
    Where is this sugar coming from? I have just been in Germany and all their organic and standard brands have the same amount of sugar. Is this naturally occurring milk sugar or is it added to enhance flavor? I have tasted an organic brand from London’s Whole Foods, which had barely any sugar in it, but since I don’t live there I have no access. What can you do about reducing the sugar in kefir or is it just what it is?

  7. Fred C says:

    Hi, Dr Axe,
    I’ve just recently started using kefir in a breakfast smoothie. I’ve modified your recipe for the super greens powder and whey protein powder drink. I use about a cup of frozen blueberries, 1 cup of kefir, 1 cup of almond milk. 1 scoop of super greens, 2 scoops of chocolate whey powder, 1 tsp of amla fruit powder and sometimes I’ll throw in 2 or 3 organic prunes I’ll have to admit when I first started doing this I wasn’t exactly overwhelmed by the flavor, not that it tasted bad or unpleasant, just wasn’t anything I was used to. Now though, I look forward to it every morning and sometimes when I’m pressed for time, I’ll make another one instead of cooking lunch or supper. I’ve been following your advice pretty closely, not everything you recommend is to my liking or fits what I’m striving for of course, but since I began following your advice, I’ve begun feeling better and better all the time. That’s physically, mentally and emotionally. I’ve lost 65 pounds since last September and am now half way to my goal. Thanks for the inspiration and the practical advice.

  8. Michelle says:

    I make my own Kombucha tea and kefir and drink both daily now. I have struggled with Candida my whole life and it doesn’t bother me anymore now. The initial die-off was very bad though and I was sick for a few weeks during that time. Now I am doing great!!

  9. Eva says:

    My comet is about yogurt. in the article is mention about greek yogurt, I think that the world need to be educated that the name greek yogurt is actually a thick kind of yogurt artificially made to have this thick texture, and actually the best yogurt is not greek, is BULGARIAN YOGURT, and popularity of yogurt actually start from BULGARIAN YOGURT. Here is a little history taken from Wikipedia :

    Stamen Grigorov (1878–1945), a Bulgarian student of medicine in Geneva, first examined the microflora of the Bulgarian yogurt. In 1905, he described it as consisting of a spherical and a rod-like lactic acid bacteria. In 1907, the rod-like bacterium was called Bacillus bulgaricus (now Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus). The Russian Nobel laureate and biologist Ilya Ilyich Mechnikov (also seen as Élie Metchnikoff), from the Institut Pasteur in Paris, was influenced by Grigorov’s work and hypothesized that regular consumption of yogurt was responsible for the unusually long lifespans of Bulgarian peasants. Believing Lactobacillus to be essential for good health, Mechnikov worked to popularize yogurt as a foodstuff throughout Europe.

    I think that the people NEED TO KNOW that when they are looking good yogurt they need to look for yogurt which contain LACTOBACILLUS BULGARICUS.
    I will really appreciate if you can help of popularization the truth about the REAL HELTY BULGARIAN YOGURT.

    • wingedshadowwolf says:

      That is cool and good to know. Also, Greek yogurt is basically regular yogurt with the whey drained out. Lowfat varieties seem to have more thickeners and fillers. A lot of regular yogurts have many strains of good bacteria added and the types are usually listed on the package.