The 11 Best Probiotic Foods

The 11 Best Probiotic Foods

Our diet plays a central role in our health. The gut is one of the main players in nutrient absorption and is colonized by trillions of microorganisms. The microbiome in our gut is essential for health and disease prevention. [1] Probiotic foods contain those living microorganisms. This article is aimed at anyone seeking science-based recommendations and presents the 11 best probiotic foods.

Blog Author Jris Health Coach at CARE
Jris Bernet

Health Coach EN

Published in Nutrition
7 min read · Feb 21, 2024

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What Are Probiotic Foods?

Probiotic foods contain live microorganisms, specifically bacteria and sometimes yeasts, that provide us with holistic health benefits. These microorganisms are similar or identical to those found naturally in the human gut flora, a complex ecosystem that plays a crucial role in our health. Among the most well-known representatives of these probiotic microorganisms are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species, which are found in many fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi. [1]

Probiotic foods have the ability to enrich and diversify our gut flora and positively influence our overall health. In view of these diverse health benefits, interest in probiotic foods has increased noticeably in recent years, not least among people who want to optimize their health actively. [1]

By combining current research findings with holistic advice, CARE offers sound guidance on effectively integrating foods that contain probiotics into the daily diet. Our aim is not only to provide a deeper understanding of the health benefits of probiotic foods but also to demonstrate how a targeted diet of probiotic foods can improve your well-being and quality of life.

11 Healthy Probiotic Foods

By incorporating probiotic foods into our diet, we can increase the diversity and density of beneficial bacteria in our gut, which in turn improves our digestive health, boosts the immune system, and can even affect our mental health. [1]

Once in the gut, the probiotic microorganisms in probiotic foods help to build and maintain a healthy gut flora. They compete with pathogenic bacteria for nutrients and attachment sites on the gut wall, reduce inflammation, promote the production of short-chain fatty acids (which are essential for gut health), and support the integrity of the intestinal mucosa. These multiple mechanisms help maintain the balance of microflora in the gut, which is crucial for maintaining good health. [1]

These 11 featured probiotic foods provide a rich source of these health-promoting microorganisms and can help promote our health in various ways. From boosting the immune system to improving digestive function and potentially supporting mental health, they offer an easy and natural way to improve well-being. [1].

In our probiotic foods list, all 11 foods contain specific probiotic strains linked to various health benefits in scientific studies, making them valuable components of a health-conscious diet.


Certain cheeses, especially fermented hard and soft cheeses such as Gouda, Cheddar, and Brie, are rich in probiotic cultures such as Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Bifidobacteria. These probiotic bacteria survive the ripening process and can improve gut health, support the absorption of nutrients, and strengthen the immune system. [1]


Yogurt is an excellent source of probiotic bacteria such as Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. These cultures support gut health, can help shorten the duration of antibiotic-associated diarrhea, and help strengthen the immune system. It is important to choose yogurt that explicitly contains "live and active cultures." [1]


Kefir contains a wide range of probiotic bacteria and yeasts, including Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum, as well as Saccharomyces kefir and Candida kefir. This diverse microflora surpasses the probiotic diversity of conventional yogurt, aids digestion and supports the immune system. [2]


This Japanese seasoning paste, fermented from soybeans with salt and the fungus Aspergillus oryzae (koji), harbors probiotic cultures such as Lactobacillus acidophilus. Miso supports intestinal health, has antioxidant properties and helps to strengthen the immune system. [3]


Natto is particularly known for its content of Bacillus subtilis, a probiotic bacterium that promotes gut health and may help prevent cardiovascular disease. Natto is also rich in vitamin K2, which is essential for bone health. [3]


This fermented soy product is made by fermenting soybeans with Rhizopus oligosporus or Rhizopus oryzae. Tempeh is a source of probiotic bacteria that can promote gut health, boost the immune system, and have antioxidant effects. [3]

Sauerkraut (unpasteurized)

Raw sauerkraut is rich in Lactobacillus plantarum and other Lactobacillus species. These probiotic bacteria can improve digestion, strengthen the immune system, and have anti-inflammatory effects. It is essential to choose unpasteurized sauerkraut to benefit from the live cultures. [4]


This Korean fermented vegetable contains a variety of probiotic bacteria, including Lactobacillus kimchii and other Lactobacillus species. Kimchi promotes gut health, boosts the immune system, and has antioxidant properties. [5]

Sourdough Bread

Sourdough bread, mainly that with a long proofing time, contains natural yeasts and lactobacilli, such as Lactobacillus sanfranciscensis. These probiotic microorganisms can help to improve digestion and support the absorption of nutrients. [1]

Bread Drink

Bread drink, a fermented beverage made from whole grain bread, is rich in probiotic bacteria such as Lactobacillus reuteri and other Lactobacillus species. These help promote intestinal health, support the immune system, and have anti-inflammatory effects. [1]


Kombucha, a fermented tea drink, is made by fermenting sweet tea with a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeasts (SCOBY). This drink is known for its content of various probiotic bacteria, including Gluconacetobacter kombuchae and Lactobacillus spp. which can support gut health. In addition, kombucha has antioxidant properties and can boost the immune system, making it a popular choice for health-conscious people. [6]

Ask your health coach for advice on probiotic foods.

What Does Fermentation Do in Probiotic Foods?

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Fermentation is a natural process in which beneficial microorganisms such as lactic acid bacteria in foods increase nutrient availability, reduce antinutrients, and thereby increase the digestibility of fermented foods. Fermentation means breaking down nutrients from food in a low-oxygen climate using bacteria or yeasts. The breakdown converts sugar into alcohol, lactic acid, or acetic acid. This changes the taste and extends the shelf life.

Longer Shelf Life

Fermentation is a method of preserving vegetables in brine to extend the shelf life of food. In the past, a lot of fermented vegetables were eaten in winter when no fresh vegetables were available.

Nowadays, the focus of fermentation is no longer on shelf life but on the positive effects on our gut flora, digestion, and general health. [1]

Better Digestibility and Nutrient Absorption

During fermentation, enzymes are produced that can make nutrients easier to digest. Fermentation makes foods such as cabbage and beans easier to digest, which usually gives many people a bloated stomach. During the fermentation process, lactose is converted into lactic acid. This reduces the lactose content, and the products are better tolerated by most people in our latitudes. [1]

11 Health Benefits of Probiotic Foods

These are the most common health benefits of probiotic foods: [1]

  1. Improved digestion: Probiotic foods promote the gut flora's balance, leading to more efficient food processing and nutrient absorption.
  2. Strengthening the immune system: Probiotics help improve the body's defense against pathogens by supporting healthy gut flora.
  3. Anti-inflammatory effect: Probiotics can promote the production of anti-inflammatory substances, which reduces systemic inflammatory reactions in the body.
  4. Less irritable bowel syndrome: Regular consumption of probiotic foods can alleviate symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, such as bloating, constipation, and diarrhea.
  5. Improved lactose tolerance: Some probiotic strains improve the body's ability to digest lactose, which increases the tolerance of dairy products in lactose-intolerant people.
  6. Improved skin health: Probiotics can contribute to skin health from the inside out by reducing inflammation and strengthening the skin barrier.
  7. Easier weight management: Certain probiotic strains impact body weight and fat storage, which is why they can support weight management.
  8. Protection against gum disease: Probiotics can reduce the growth of harmful bacteria in the mouth, helping to protect against periodontal disease and tooth decay.
  9. Reduction of allergies: Probiotics can help reduce the severity of allergy symptoms by boosting the immune system and reducing inflammatory responses.
  10. Prevention of bladder infections: Some probiotics have a preventative effect against urinary tract infections by preventing harmful bacteria from adhering to the bladder wall.
  11. Reducing the risk of certain chronic diseases: Regular consumption of probiotic foods can help protect against certain cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes by reducing inflammatory responses in the body and positively affecting metabolism.

Our Conclusion on Probiotic Foods

Incorporating the top 11 probiotic foods into your daily diet can be a simple step with far-reaching health benefits for your health. From supporting healthy gut flora to boosting your immune system and improving your overall well-being, these foods offer a natural and enjoyable way to boost your wellness. [1]

By incorporating these probiotic powerhouses into your diet, you are actively striving for longevity and fundamentally supporting the functions of your gut. Probiotic products are an investment in your health that not only your current self but also your future self will appreciate.

List of References

Blog Author Jris Health Coach at CARE

Jris Bernet

Health Coach EN at CARE Zurich

About the author

Jris is a health coach (nerd) and blog author at CARE. She has many years of experience as a coach for classic lifestyle conditions such as diabetes and women's health. She enjoys facilitating health challenges and courses. Fasting, keto, sleep, women's health and biohacking - Jris feels at home in these topics. When she's not working for CARE, she loves to listen to health podcasts and try out new (health) gadgets. Her credo: "It's never too late to start living a new lifestyle."