Myth #3: Only Yogurt contains Probiotics
Yogurt is probably the best known and widely consumed food source of probiotics, but there are other sources to consider.
For example Kefir, which is a fermented milk product, contains several major strains of friendly bacteria, such as Lactobacillus Caucasus, Leuconostoc, and Acetobacter species, as well as some beneficial yeasts that aren’t found in yogurt. Kefir is made by adding kefir grains to milk, which causes a unique fermenting process to occur.
While both yogurt and kefir are cultured milk products, they contain different strains of bacteria, with some Kefir brands containing as many as 12 strains.
Dairy-based probiotics appear to retain their active cultures the best, and they are also great sources of calcium and protein (as long as you stick with plain or vanilla options, which are lower in sugar than many of the blended fruit flavors). So if you can tolerate dairy, then yogurt or Kefir are your best sources of probiotics.
For those who prefer non-dairy sources, the Korean product kimchi is an option.
Kimchi consists of spicy fermented vegetables like cabbage and carrots mixed with seasonings such as hot pepper flakes, ginger, and salt.
Since this is often used as a condiment and is known to be hot, it’s often used as a topping with other dishes in smaller quantities.
Like kimchi, sauerkraut (fermented cabbage but without the spicy kick) is considered to be a good source of probiotics.
Plus, it’s also a great source of vitamin C and digestive enzymes.
Another source of probiotics you can try are fermented soybean products like tempeh, miso, and natto.
Last but not least, there's kombucha tea, which is made by placing a kombucha mushroom in sweetened black tea. As a traditional medicinal food, kombucha is believed to be another good source of probiotics.
Today, probiotics are being added to everything from nutrition bars, to chocolate, to pizza crusts, to various drinks.
But buyer beware, that due to the limited shelf life of probiotics, there may not always be the amount of active cultures in the food that it says on the label.
Additionally, keep in mind that adding a probiotic to an unhealthful food does not magically make it healthy.
So try the natural sources of probiotics like Kefir or Kombucha tea first!
And take a look at the rest of our Gut Busters series!
Lindsey Getz. A Healthful Dose of Bacteria — Yogurt Is the Best Probiotic Source, but Clients Do Have Other Options. Today’s Dietitian.2011. 13(10): 46.
Vijaya Kumar B, Vijayendra SVN, Reddy OVS. Trends in dairy and non-dairy probiotic products - a review. Journal of Food Science and Technology. 2015;52(10):6112-6124. doi:10.1007/s13197-015-1795-2.