Happy guts: 5 probiotic foods for better digestive health

Updated on July 19 2017

Like vitamins and essential amino acids, probiotics have been neglected in modern society after the rise of fast food giants and convenience stores. Bloating, indigestion and irregular bowel movements have been the woes of many living in modern societies, and while we’re not suggesting to completely lay off the McNuggets, maybe it’s time to start thinking about your digestive health with the help of probiotic foods. This is because a healthy gut determines whether you absorb nutrients optimally, which in turn affects your immune system.

The lack of probiotics can cause an influx of problems such as digestive disorders, skin issues, autoimmune diseases, candida, and a greater tendency to catch colds and the flu. Before refrigerators became a common kitchen utility, the only way to keep foods edible was by fermentation. Obviously, this practice has slowly vanished from many cultures thanks to the plethora of easier, more convenient food choices out there. To make things worse, pesticides and soaking agriculture with chlorine to make it last longer, actually end up killing whatever good bacteria you have left in your body.

Which is why we’re recommending 5 probiotic foods to get you back on the gut-healthy track. The benefits are seemingly endless, but they include healthier skin, a stronger immune system, improved digestion and if you’re consistent — weight loss.

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1/5

Kimchi

The pickled vegetable dish has been a staple on Korean dining tables for a very long time, and for a good reason. Besides adding a zing to dishes, kimchi can contain a mixture of different species of gut-loving bacteria, as opposed to regular supplements which usually contain only one strain. It’s also a good alternative for people who are lactose intolerant and can’t get their fix from yogurt or other dairy products.

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Kefir

The fermented product has a texture similar to drinkable yogurt, and is widely known for its tart and refreshing flavour, as well as its abundance of beneficial yeast and friendly probiotic bacteria. It can be made from any type of milk — cow, goat, sheep, coconut, rice or soy — and is slightly fermented to help the colonisation of bacteria. It also boasts a range of minerals, vitamins, phosphorus, calcium and magnesium, and is one of the few supplements which is a complete protein.

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Kombucha

Known to have originated in the Far East around 2,000 years ago, kombucha has been widely known to provide a host of nutrition naturally. Slightly fizzy, the beverage is the result of fermentation from black tea and sugar, and produces a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast known as SCOBY. Besides a generous dose of probiotics, you’ll enjoy the benefits of enzymes, and acids (gluconic, lactic and acetic) that will improve digestion, provide immune support and speed up metabolism.

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Natto

We agree that this one is an acquired taste but get past its funky looks and funkier taste and you’ll understand how this dish has stuck around for so long. The Japanese fermented soybean dish is known to be the highest dietary source of vitamin K2, which is essential for cardiovascular and bone health. Japanese ladies also love this for its ability to restore skin elasticity while preventing wrinkles. The enzymes produced from the fermentation process have been widely used for treating gastrointestinal conditions and increasing the immune reaction of intestinal cells.

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Olives

Maybe it’s time to stop picking them off your pizza, because turns out olives soaked in brine are friends of your gut. The salt solution allows the probiotic Lactobacillus to thrive, while keeping the fruit’s nutrient-dense properties intact. Besides, the high levels of healthy monounsaturated fat are known to provide benefits to the heart, brain and waistline.