Foods that Contain Probiotics and Prebiotics - dummies

Foods that Contain Probiotics and Prebiotics

By Shekhar Challa, Eamonn M. M. Quigley

Part of Probiotics For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Many foods contain probiotics (the good bacteria that help your body maintain health) and prebiotics (fiber that good bacteria eat but that isn’t digestible by humans). However, it’s difficult to get enough probiotics strictly through food. You need to take a probiotic supplement to get enough probiotics in your diet to maintain good health, especially if you’re treating a particular illness (such as antibiotic-associated diarrhea).

Fermented foods — which used to be a larger part of the human diet because fermentation was a great way of preserving food — contain probiotics. You’ll see quite a few fermented foods on the upcoming list. Fermentation is the process of adding yeast to a food to change its structure. Primarily, sugars and starches are broken down during fermentation.

One thing to keep in mind: It’s the live bacteria in the food you eat that make it full of healthy probiotics. Since heat destroys the bacteria, you need to make sure that your yogurt, for example, says live or active cultures on the label. Some yogurts are pasteurized, which kills the bacteria. Those yogurts with live cultures add them back in after the pasteurization process.

Probiotic-rich foods include the following:

  • Kefir

  • Yogurt (with live cultures)

  • Kimchi (a spicy fermented cabbage common in the Korean diet)

  • Dark chocolate (a good, high-quality chocolate)

  • Tempeh

  • Microalgae

  • Miso

  • Pickles

  • Natto (a fermented soybean)

  • Some soft cheeses (such as Gouda) contain Lactobacilli bacteria

  • Sourdough bread may also contain Lactobacilli

  • Fruits such as bananas and tomatoes

  • Vegetables like artichokes, green beans, leeks

  • Whole-grain breads

  • Honey