I’m not a big fan of yogurt– but I am a big fan of probiotics, both for myself and my family members. Probiotics are forms of bacteria that are helpful, rather than harmful, to the human body. Our bodies are loaded with natural probiotics: they keep our digestive systems, urinary tracts, and reproductive systems safe from harmful bacteria. The National Institutes of Health acknowledges the many therapeutic and health-boosting benefits of L. acidophilus, a form of probiotic most famously found in yogurt… But yogurt isn’t the only food that contains probiotics! Here are five sources of probiotics you may not know about.
1. Breast Milk
Breast milk is the first and most important source of probiotics we encounter in life. Studies have found that these friendly bacteria are extremely important to the health of infants and toddlers, especially during times of illness. If you have a young child who could benefit from probiotics, consider increasing the amount of breast milk in his diet.
A fermented product made from soy, tempeh is an excellent alternative to tofu for people who want a delicious meat substitute that also offers a boost of friendly bacteria. Because it’s fermented in friendly bacteria like L. acidophilus, it has many of the same health benefits traditionally associated with yogurt.
Very similar to yogurt, kefir is a dairy beverage extremely rich in probiotics. Traditionally made with sheep or goat’s milk, this rich drink contains more probiotics than most yogurt and is delicious when mixed into granola or consumed as a small-serving drink.
Kimchi is a flavorful Korean dish made from cabbage cultured in probiotics. Often made with fish oil, peppers and garlic, kimchi is so alive with friendly bacteria that its juices tend to be fizzy and tart-a result of the fermentation process caused by L. acidophilus and other friendly bacteria found in the food. Add a little kimchi to your diet if you want to boost your probiotic intake.
A fermented tea containing a culture of friendly bacteria and yeast compounds, kombucha has a delightful flavor that combines tartness, sweetness and the gentle, familiar taste of tea. Many forms of kombucha tea offer higher levels of health-supporting probiotics than yogurt and other more common sources of probiotics.
Unfortunately, not all foods containing probiotics are entirely safe. Mayo Clinic notes, for example, that homemade kombucha tea is sometimes made in unsterile environments, where it can be contaminated with bad bacteria. The same problem exists for other homemade cultured foods. As a precaution, buy your probiotic foods from a trusted source and talk to your doctor about any concerns you may have regarding your health or diet.