Probiotic bacteria are beneficial for the intestines, for the immune system, and thus for general health. We present the best probiotic foods, some of which you can also produce yourself.
What are probiotic foods?
Probiotic foods are foods that have been mixed with certain probiotic strains of bacteria (lactic acid bacteria or specific yeast fungi) and then fermented by them. During fermentation, the carbohydrates contained in the food are metabolized by the bacteria. This produces lactic acid and carbon dioxide.
What are the benefits of fermentation?
The fermentation of food has many advantages – from a health point of view as well as from a taste and practical point of view:
Better taste and longer shelf life
The fermented food not only tastes refreshingly sour, it also has a longer shelf life thanks to the fermentation. Because the low pH value and the presence of lactic acid bacteria (and often also salt) deter putrefactive bacteria and mold.
Probiotic foods are easier to digest and better tolerated
Probiotic foods are also often considered to be significantly healthier than the original unfermented variant. On the one hand, the fermentation makes the food better tolerable (the dietary fibers it contains are easier to digest), on the other hand, the probiotic bacterial strains naturally also have a beneficial effect on intestinal health and strengthen the immune system.
Probiotic foods protect against pesticides and heavy metals
Lactic acid bacteria also prevent pesticides and heavy metals from entering the bloodstream via the intestinal mucosa and thus protect the respective person from a corresponding burden.
Probiotic foods with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects
Probiotic bacteria also have an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect and stabilize the intestinal mucosa (thus protecting against leaky gut syndrome).
Protection against chronic health problems
Another health advantage of probiotic bacterial strains is that they have a positive effect on blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and generally on chronic diseases that are causally related to the intestine (e.g. allergies, eczema, or autoimmune diseases).
Probiotic foods contain fewer carbohydrates and fewer calories
Food usually becomes lower in calories and, of course, lower in carbohydrates during fermentation, as the carbohydrates are broken down. Compared to fresh white cabbage, for example, which has 25 kcal and 4 g carbohydrates, sauerkraut only contains 11 kcal and 0.5 g carbohydrates – depending on the fermentation time, of course.
Can probiotic foods have side effects?
Sometimes diarrhea can occur, otherwise, there are no known health side effects or risks of probiotic foods. Start – if you are not used to fermented foods, with small amounts.
Who better not eat probiotic foods?
However, there are people who are better off avoiding probiotic foods, e.g. B. Histamine intolerance, since fermentation increases the histamine content of the food enormously so that they lead to the typical symptoms of histamine intolerance in sensitive people, such as e.g. B. diarrhea, palpitations, shortness of breath, skin flushing, a runny nose and swollen eyes.
In addition, increased histamine intake can trigger a flare-up after one or two days in so-called atopic diseases such as allergies, migraines, bronchial asthma, neurodermatitis, and Crohn’s disease.
What probiotic foods are there?
Basically, almost any food can be fermented, regardless of whether it is alcohol, juices, bread, sausage, meat, milk, cheese, nut butter, cereals, fish, fruit, or vegetables. Therefore, many people now practice fermentation as a hobby and ferment all kinds of foods to make them more digestible and healthier.
Probiotic Foods: The Top 8
Below we present the most well-known traditional probiotic foods and explain how you can make them yourself – where this is possible. Since we promote the vegan lifestyle, you will only find plant-based probiotic foods here, i.e. no milk kefir and no conventional yogurt:
Probiotic: water kefir
Water kefir can be made with water, juice, or coconut water. Add sugar and the typical kefir starter culture (which contains probiotic yeast and bacteria). After the fermentation is complete, you get a sparkling and refreshing drink with a probiotic effect.
In our article about the properties and effects of water kefir, we explain how you can make water kefir yourself and what you should pay attention to.
Kimchi is a traditional Korean dish, mostly made from fermented white cabbage and reminiscent of our sauerkraut. But savoy cabbage, carrots, or radishes can also be processed or even different vegetables can be mixed together. We explain how to make kimchi in our kimchi recipe.
Kombucha is a fermented black tea that is fermented with the help of probiotic yeasts, e.g. B. Saccharomyces ludwigii, Saccharomyces apiculate, and Saccharomyces cerevisiae (baker’s yeast).
Cow’s milk or any other animal milk is not necessary to make yogurt if you want to enjoy the probiotic properties and benefits of yogurt. Because the milk is less important than the probiotic cultures.
For almond yogurt, for example, the usual yogurt cultures are added to homemade almond milk and in this way, a purely plant-based but highly probiotic yogurt is produced. In our almond yogurt recipe, we explain how you can make the almond yogurt yourself.
Miso is made by fermenting barley (or another grain), soybeans, and salt for two or three years. The result is a brown, strongly flavored paste that can be used in soups, sauces, and dressings or as a condiment for any other dish in which you like the typical miso aroma. Here you will find an original Japanese miso soup.
The most well-known fermented vegetable and probiotic food is probably sauerkraut. It is created when you add salt to finely shaved white cabbage and mash it so hard that liquid escapes and the vegetables are finally covered by this liquid.
For a period of one to several weeks, the cabbage mostly ferments solely thanks to the lactic acid bacteria that are present in the air or have already been naturally present in the cabbage. A starter culture is therefore not absolutely necessary. We explain how to make sauerkraut in our sauerkraut recipe.
Probiotic: Fermented fruits and vegetables
Of course, you can not only ferment sauerkraut but other vegetables (e.g. carrots, celery, parsnips) and even fruits, e.g. B. plums, apricots, mango, pineapple, or peaches. They all receive the effects and properties of the contained probiotic bacterial strains, e.g. B. from Lactobacillus Plantarum, L. pentosus, L. brevis, L. acidophilus, L. fermentum, and many more.
Probiotic: bread drink
The bread drink is available from the Kanne company in stores and in health food stores and health food stores. It is made from water and whole-grain sourdough bread. The naturally occurring lactic acid bacteria and yeast in the bread ferment the bread. The result is a sour liquid that can be used as a condiment, like vinegar or diluted with water and used as a probiotic.