Why are probiotics beneficial for gut health?

A probiotic is best described as a microorganism which naturally occurs in cultured foods and which improves the health of its host (you!). Probiotic foods naturally contain probiotic cultures of yeast or bacteria. Probiotic bacteria perform some important functions such as supporting a healthy immune system, metabolism and digestion. Research indicates that imbalances in the gut microbiome can been linked to numerous diseases, including cancer and type 2 diabetes.


Your gut microbiome is strongly influenced by your food choices and you can easily support this by including more probiotic rich foods into your daily diet.

Discover even more top tips for digestive health. Also, check out some of our delicious gut-friendly recipes from satisfying soups to salads, including a whole range of tasty plant-based options.

The 10 best probiotic foods to add to your diet:

1. Yogurt

Made from milk fermented by friendly bacteria (mainly lactic acid bacteria and bifidobacteria), yogurt is one of the best sources of probiotics. Widely available in shops, yogurt is also super easy to make at home.

2. Kefir

Made by adding kefir grains to cow’s or goat’s milk, kefir contains several major strains of friendly bacteria and yeast, making it a diverse and potent probiotic.

Learn how to make your own kefir.

3. Tempeh

Made from soybeans that have been cooked and fermented, tempeh has been shown to boost the concentration of good bacteria.

Find out more about the many benefits of tempeh.

4. Kimchi

A Korean favourite, kimchi is made primarily with fermented cabbage and contains large amounts of the gut-friendly bacterium, Lactobacillus.

Try our quick kimchi recipe.

5. Kombucha

A sweetened fermented black tea from China, kombucha is known to contain a host of gut-beneficial bacteria and yeast species.

Why not try making your own kombucha?

6. Miso

Used in Japanese and Asian foods, miso is a paste made from fermented soy and contains large amounts of the gut-friendly bacteria, A. oryzae.

Get inspired by our collection of delicious miso recipes.

7. Natto

A traditional Japanese dish consisting of fermented soybeans, natto is high in gut-boosting bacteria.

8. Sauerkraut

A type of fermented cabbage, sauerkraut is packed with good bacteria and is super easy and inexpensive to make at home.

9. Soft and aged cheese

Some cheeses (such as cheddar, parmesan and swiss cheeses, particularly gouda) are better than yogurt for delivering intact probiotics to the GI tract.

Satisfy your cravings with our moreish cheese recipe collection.

10. Green olives

The natural salt-water fermentation process of brined olives means that they’re rich in Lactobacillus, a kind of gut-friendly bacteria.

Discover more benefits of olives and their oil.

What if I don’t eat dairy?

The avoidance of milk doesn't need to limit your choice of probiotic foods. Kefir and yogurt can easily be made using plant-based milks. Coconut and almond milk yogurts are commercially available and can also be easily made at home. Water kefir, where sugar water is combined with kefir grains and fermented to create a slightly fizzy drink flavored with fruits and spices, is another option.

Want more great gut health content?

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What's your favourite way to get probiotics into your diet? Comment below and let us know...

This page was published on 5th August 2020.

Tracey Randell is a qualified Nutritionist (MBANT) and certified Institute for Functional Medicine practitioner (Dip BCNH, IFMCP, CNHC). She lectures at the nutrition college where she trained on various subjects including IBS, Celiac disease, the gut-brain axis and food intolerances. She also offers post graduate training to other health care professionals.


All health content on bbcgoodfood.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local health care provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.

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