Think of probiotics and you probably think of yoghurt.
Live cultured yoghurt is indeed a good source of these beneficial forms of gut bacteria that help stimulate the natural digestive juices and enzymes that keep digestive organs functioning properly.
The clever live microorganisms are thought to help improve digestive and immune system health, aid weight loss, and lower blood pressure. So beneficial are they that many brands are including gut-friendly bacteria into their goods; one is Plenish, who have launched Plenish Water+, flavoured waters with bioactive cultures.
In the past, there were plenty of probiotics in fresh food grown in good soil, and in foods fermented to stop them going off. But today’s refrigeration and agricultural techniques mean a lot of food no longer contains appreciable amounts of probiotics.
However, some probiotic-rich foods are still available, and although yoghurt is the most well-known of these foods, there are a number of others that contain the bacteria if you’re not a big fan of dairy.
Here are some of them:
Look for the live, or bio, yoghurts which are labelled as having live active cultures with high numbers of active or live organisms. Aim for at least 10 million – in some countries, foods labelled as probiotic have to contain at least a billion colony-forming units (CFUs) of probiotics per serving. Live yoghurts tend to have less added sugar than the flavoured, non-live varieties.
2. Fermented cheeses
Some cheeses, including Gouda, cheddar, parmesan and Swiss, are made with lactic acid bacteria, which contains probiotics, although the content does vary.
Some types of dark chocolate, like Ombar, are enriched with probiotics. But don’t expect your usual chocolate bar to contain good gut bacteria – it’ll say on the label if it contains live cultures.
The green pickle is an excellent food source of probiotics, although not all pickles contain good bacteria. Look for those made with brine (salt and water) rather than vinegar, and labelled as containing live cultures.
Although much modern sauerkraut, which is a finely-cut fermented cabbage, is packed in a vinegar solution and doesn’t contain live, active bacteria, you can get probiotic power by eating fresh sauerkraut labelled as containing live cultures, or by making it yourself.
6. Sourdough bread
This slightly sour, chewy bread is made with a lactic acid that contains strains of lactobacillus, a ‘friendly’ bacteria that adds good microbes.
7. Non-dairy milks
If you're vegan or lactose intolerant, or you just don’t like dairy products, cultured soya milk, soya yoghurt, almond milk and coconut milk are non-dairy alternatives that contain live active cultures.
Do you try to include probiotics in your diet? Tell us in the Comments section below