Painting of the best fermented food sources of probiotics.

How to Eat a Diet Rich in Probiotics (Fermented Foods)

Probiotics are the “good” bacteria that provide health benefits when consumed. They do this by helping us build a robust gut microbiome, which improves digestion, reduces inflammation, and protects us against harmful bacteria (study, study, study).

The best sources of probiotics are fermented foods. This is still a fairly young field, so it’s hard to say which foods are the “best.” We do know that a more varied microbiome tends to be healthier, though. So if you can, try to pick a few foods from this list:

  1. Yogurt: yogurt is made by fermenting milk, making it a rich source of probiotics. Look for yogurt containing live and active cultures. Opt for plain, unsweetened varieties. Our favourite is Greek yogurt (which boasts a higher protein content).
  2. Kefir: kefir is also made by fermenting milk, similar to yogurt. However, it’s thinner, making it easily drinkable, and it tends to be even richer in probiotics. It can be made from cow, goat, or sheep milk, as well as non-dairy alternatives like coconut milk.
  3. Sauerkraut: sauerkraut is made from fermented cabbage. It’s a rich source of probiotics and other nutrients, including fibre, which is also great for your gut. Look for unpasteurized sauerkraut in the refrigerated section.
  4. Kimchi: kimchi is a traditional Korean dish made from fermented vegetables like cabbage and radishes combined with spices. It’s rich in probiotics, fibre, vitamins, and minerals.
  5. Miso: miso is a Japanese seasoning made from fermented soybeans. It contains a variety of probiotics. It’s often used to make miso soup or as a flavouring in other dishes.
  6. Tempeh: tempeh is a high-protein food made from fermented soybeans. It’s rich in probiotics and can be used as a meat substitute in many recipes.
  7. Natto: natto is a Japanese dish also made from fermented soybeans. It’s a good source of probiotics and is particularly high in vitamin K2, which most people could use more of.
  8. Pickles: pickles are made by fermenting cucumbers. Look for the pickles with live cultures in the refrigerated section of the grocery store.

Aim to eat 1–2 servings of probiotic foods per day. Even better if they’re two different foods from the list.

Here’s where things get interesting. Probiotics are just one part of the picture. According to Dr. Justin and Erica Sonnenburg, two of leading gut-health researchers from Stanford University, you can also strengthen your microbiome by eating a nutritious diet, minimising your intake of junk food, consuming plenty of fibre, and exercising.

Shane Duquette

Shane has over 10 years of full-time experience helping over 10,000 skinny guys build muscle by lifting weights, eating a good bulking diet, and living a healthy lifestyle. He's the founder of Bony to Beastly, Bony to Bombshell, and Outlift.

Cassandra Duquette

Cassandra is a registered nutritionist living in Cancun, Mexico. She believes vitality comes from an abundant diet, regular exercise, and a healthy lifestyle. Her specialty is nutrition. She's gained 20 pounds.

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