Kelli Foster is the author of the forthcoming cookbook, The Probiotic Kitchen, which includes 100+ everyday recipes using probiotic foods, like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, tempeh, and kombucha. She is also the author of Buddha Bowls, an editor at Kitchn, and her work has appeared in Triathlete, Chicago Athlete, and Greatist.
In an effort to work more probiotics into your day, Greek yogurt has become your breakfast staple. Some days you partner it with fruit and a few spoonfuls of granola, others you blend it into your smoothie for a boost of probiotics and protein. Perhaps, tangy milk kefir is more your style, and you gulp some down everyday. Or maybe fermented veggies are your love language, and you’re busy putting kraut and kimchi on everything. What I’m trying to say is – you found your favorite probiotic food. You’re on top of your gut health game, getting a daily dose of probiotics from real food. So you’re good, right?
Well, not so fast. If you really want to maximize the gut health benefits you get from eating probiotic foods, you’re going to want to remember this one small, but very important tip.
Treating your gut to probiotics from one, even two foods is a good start. But you want to think bigger. The key to maximizing the benefit is including a variety of different probiotic foods in your diet. So rather than only reaching for that Greek yogurt or kefir, it’s helpful to add other sources of probiotics to your diet, like miso, sauerkraut, fermented pickles, or tempeh. This ensures you’re getting a mix of different probiotic strains which in turn, treats your body to a bigger variety of benefits.
You see, it’s not a one size fits all solution. Different foods can contain different strains of probiotics, and each probiotic strain has a different effect on your body. While some can give your immune system a boost, others get top marks for limiting the growth of harmful bacteria in your gut, and some do their best work by helping your body better absorb nutrients.
It’s also worth noting that many of these gut-friendly foods also offer other nutritional benefits. Made from fermented soybeans, tempeh, for example is also a good source of protein and magnesium, while fermented dairy products, like yogurt, milk kefir, and cultured cottage cheese are packed with calcium and potassium.