The top 4 probiotic-rich foods to improve gut health

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kombucha(NaturalHealth365) “All disease begins in the gut,” was wisdom given by Hippocrates nearly 2,500 years ago. While the medical community has denied it for decades, researchers are now proving substance in that statement.

Did you know that your intestines are home to approximately 100 trillion bacteria? That’s about three pounds worth! Some bacteria are good but others can be detrimental to your health.

Why is Western medicine ignoring good science?

Over the last year, researchers have determined the more good bacteria you have in your gut, the better you are. According to a report published in BMC Immunology,

“The gut microbiota makes up the majority of the human bacterial population, and although the gut microbiota resides in the intestines, it is able to exert systemic effects. Therefore, many diseases and conditions could be impacted by the gut microbiota when its composition is imbalanced, otherwise known as dysbiosis.”

Evidence based science is finally catching up with ageless wisdom as disease of all kinds – not just gastrointestinal disorders – are being healed by treating the gut naturally with probiotic supplements and foods.

Simply put, if your doctor is not telling you about the value of probiotics – he/she is NOT reading the science. (time to get another doctor)

What exactly are probiotics?

Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for your health, especially your gut health. While they are naturally found within your body, they are destroyed on a daily basis with poor diet, antibiotics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), stress, and more.

They can be replaced through probiotic supplementation. However, a nutrient-dense diet filled with non-genetically modified vegetables, fruits, and beans can help flourish your gut with healthy microbes. Even more, there are a few foods that are trillions of times more potent than any probiotic supplement you can buy on the market which are discussed further in this article.

Recent studies show many positive benefits of probiotics

Probiotics are essential in assisting your body with nutrient absorption, and the overall result provides you with a healthier gut which leads to health and overall vitality. Following are a few positive benefits of probiotics proven by new research in 2015 and 2016:

  • Enhances immune system
  • Prevents severe infections following abdominal surgery
  • Suppresses malignant cancer cells (breast, colon, prostate, and more)
  • Acts as a co-treatment with radiation therapy for cancer
  • Counters and improves digestive diseases (acute and chronic diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and colorectal cancer)
  • Demonstrates cholesterol-reducing potential
  • Halts and treats obesity-related metabolic diseases (type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and certain cancers)
  • Curbs autoimmune response (Celiac disease, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, thyroiditis, and more)
  • Inhibits and improves allergies (food, dermatitis)
  • Halts aging (restores acidic skin pH, alleviates oxidative stress, attenuates photo aging, improves skin barrier function, and enhances hair quality)
  • Boosts brain health (cognition, memory, mood, and more)

Discover the top 4 probiotic foods

While it may not sound as nice as sipping down a delightful glass of wine, certain fermented foods can provide you with probiotics. By eating them, you naturally detoxify your body and optimize your overall health. Below are a few probiotic foods that are trillions of times more potent than any probiotic supplement on the market:

1. Kimchi: A popular Korean side dish, kimchi is a very spicy pickled cabbage. Aged kimchi has a plethora of probiotics as well as vitamins and calcium. In 2014, the Journal of Medicinal Food reports kimchi’s many research-proven health benefits. They include “anticancer, anti-obesity, anti-constipation, colorectal health promotion, probiotic properties, cholesterol reduction, fibrolytic effect, antioxidative and antiaging properties, brain health promotion, immune promotion, and skin health promotion.”

2. Sauerkraut: Traced back to the fourth century BC, sauerkraut is one of the most common and oldest forms of preserving cabbage. Made from fermented cabbage and sometimes other vegetables, sauerkraut is extremely rich in probiotics and vitamins.

3. Kombucha: Used for centuries, Kombucha is a sweetened black tea that has been fermented for the high amount of healthy gut probiotics it produces. A 2015 study showed that Kombucha enhances biological function by enhancing antioxidant and antibacterial activities. Kombucha tea may also contribute healing agents to gastric ulcers. Try it hot or cold.

4. Pickles: While homemade pickles are a better source than commercial brands, most have some microbial value. Just be careful on your consumption of them as pickles can have a high sodium content that can lead to high blood pressure.

Take care of your gut health to maintain optimal health.

With more and more research proving that your microbiome (gut health) is as important (if not more) than your DNA for wellness, try to include a diet rich in alkaline and probiotic foods. It has been proven to be more effective than antibiotics and other conventional medicines, and it may just be more economical than conventional medicine.

Plus, let’s not forget the most important thing, you’ll feel great!

About the author: Abby Campbell is a medical, health, and nutrition research writer. She’s dedicated to helping people live a healthy lifestyle in all aspects – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Abby practices, writes, and coaches on natural preventive care, nutritional medicine, and complementary and alternative therapy.


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  • Phylis Torres

    I love Kimchi, now I even love it more. All I have to do is add homemade pickles and I should be good.

  • Jan Calabrese

    I had so many rounds of antibiotics, yet no one told me about the dangers. What I hope is that eating fermented foods will restore some of the good bacteria.

    • Valerie N

      I don’t think that most seem to know.-It’s all they’ve learned. The foods should be the best way, & making your own fermented vegetables & kefir, is not too difficult. You can also buy or order, on line. – Good luck.

  • Connie Roche

    After being diagnosed with autoimmune disorders, I traced it back to all the antibiotics I was given. I am on probiotics and still suffer from these conditions. Perhaps if I change my diet and include fermented foods I will finally see some improvements.

    • Greg Hill

      If you have taken a lot of antibiotics, there is a very good chance that you are also suffering from some combination of small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), increased intestinal permeability (“leaky gut”), and maybe even candidiasis (candida overgrowth). These can all contribute to autoimmune disorders. There is a lot of excellent information about these conditions on the internet.

      It would probably be a good idea to be checked out by some sort of holistic, functional medicine or other non-allopathic doctor who knows how to test for these conditions and can help you design a personalized recovery diet. There are also some good books available about using diet for treating the underlying causes autoimmune disorders, for example by Susan Blum or Amy Myers.

    • Vanessa

      GAPS reversed my anaphylactic allergic reactions to nearly everything. People used to say that I should live in a bubble. I am now not allergic to anything that I am aware of. I now follow the Nourishing Traditions diet by Sally Fallon, but I am not strict about it. I just go by it when I make my own food.

  • Greg Hill

    The room temperature sauerkraut and pickles found on the shelf in grocery stores has been processed to kill most if not all of the fermenting bacteria in order to prolong shelf life, so they aren’t really probiotics. In some grocery stores and most health food stores you can find real, live sauerkraut and pickles in the refrigerated section, near the kimchi (which always seems to be refrigerated). My own personal favorite brand for live probiotic sauerkraut and pickles is Bubbies, which has their own web site on the internet.

  • Elizabeth Williams

    I agree with the recommendations, except kombucha. Kombucha has a lot of sugar, some caffeine and isn’t a good blanket recommendation for everyone. I would replace that with kefir, especially homemade.

    • Tom

      Wished they respond to your statement

      • Valerie N

        I doubt that anyone does that. I agree, – it would be nice.

    • Esther Kaiser

      The sugar in kombucha feeds the scoby the finished product has very little residual sugar. Please do your research before doling out bad information.

    • Vanessa

      I have sensitive kidneys that are easily affected by sugar and caffeine. Yet, my digestion is so poor that I cannot eat a meal with out it or I feel tremendously hungry as if I didn’t eat. I have no problems from kombucha.

  • Elizabeth Fowler Howard

    I use Kombucha every day and recommend it; but I make my own contionuous brew using gunpowder green tea (my favorite organic tea, it’s fizzy) and organic cane sugar or coconut sugar. You also need to check and use only when fizzy, not taste of tea or sugar (which is for the SCOBY). This way you don’t get the sugar. You can always 2nd ferment using ginger, rosemary, lavender, goji berries, and/or raspberries. These are just a few of the additions.

  • lerlene lumpkin

    If you heat kombucha the beneficial bacteria will be destroyed. Also, commercial pickles and kraut are usually made with vinegar- they are not fermented so contain no probiotics. Bubbies is one brand that is truly fermented. This article is poorly written and researched. A mile-long list of references doesn’t change that.

  • Heather W.

    What? No Kefir???

  • Graceds

    Thanks for the tip.

    • Boris Ogon

      Thanks for the tip.

      Even though it’s demonstrably false? @disqus_1yIOCerOfc:disqus knows exactly nothing about kashrus, which is par for the course.

  • Boris Ogon

    Many jars of pickles like BICK’S have polysorbate 80 in them. Kosher don’t. Research polysorbate 80 and you’ll buy kosher.

    I hate to break this to you, but my jar of Claussen Hearty Garlic pickles lists polysorbate 80 on the label and bears an OU hechsher.