What Are the Top 8 Probiotics?

Medically Reviewed on 2/16/2022

8 best probiotics to include in your diet

Here are the eight best probiotic foods to include in your diet to boost your gut health.

Regular diet plays an important role in balancing the microbiome in the body. Certain foods increase beneficial microbes in the body.

The following are a few food items that one should consider including in their daily diet to boost gut health:

  1. Yogurt:
    • Fermented by bacteria, such as lactic acid bacteria and bifidobacteria, yogurt is one of the best sources of probiotics that one can include in the diet.
    • Yogurt helps boost bone health, manage blood pressure, and alleviate symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.
    • Yogurt is suitable for lactose-intolerant people. However, care should be taken to consume yogurt that contains live cultures because, often, bacteria can get killed while processing (such as baking at high temperatures).
  2. Kimchi:
    • Kimchi is a fermented and spicy Korean side dish and is made with vegetables (primarily cabbage) and seasonings (such as garlic, ginger, scallion, or red chili pepper flakes).
    • Lactic acid bacteria, Lactobacillus kimchii, is present in kimchi, which makes the dish extremely beneficial for digestive health. The dish contains vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, which makes it a healthy addition to the daily diet.
  3. Pickles:
    • Pickles have been always a popular condiment included in the regular diet, especially in Asian countries.
    • Pickles are usually preserved in salt and water or oil. This allows them to ferment and due to the presence of lactic acid bacteria, pickles get the typical sour taste.
    • Pickled cucumbers are considered a great source of probiotics that are abundant in various nutrients and aid in digestion. However, pickles with vinegar are not recommended because the dish does not contain cultures of any live bacteria.
  4. Kefir:
    • By adding kefir grain to goat or cow's milk, kefir, which is a fermented probiotic beverage, is made.
    • Kefir grains are cultures of lactic acid bacteria and yeast that are added to the milk.
    • Kefir is considered to provide several benefits, including boosting gut health, improving bone health, providing protection against infections, and aiding digestion.
  5. Buttermilk:
    • Also called grandma's probiotic, buttermilk is an effective probiotic and is generally consumed in India, Pakistan, and Nepal.
    • Buttermilk generally refers to a range of fermented dairy drinks. Usually, there are two main types of buttermilk: cultured and traditional. Traditional buttermilk contains probiotics, and it is the leftover liquid obtained from making butter.
    • Buttermilk has several vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin B12, calcium, riboflavin, and phosphorus.
  6. Tempeh:
    • Tempeh is a fermented soybean product and is considered a high protein substitute for meat.
    • Having a similar flavor to mushrooms, this nutty food product is abundant in phytic acid. Usually, phytic acid inhibits the absorption of zinc and iron, but due to fermentation, tempeh helps absorb nutrients.
    • It is a great alternative for vegetarians and vegan people.
  7. Miso:
    • A popular Japanese seasoning, miso is made from fermented soybean paste with a type of fungus called koji and salt. Other ingredients, such as rye, barley, and rice are used.
    • Miso is an excellent source of probiotics, as well as fiber and proteins. It contains several nutrients and can provide several health benefits.
    • Research has shown that consuming miso has lowered the risk of breast cancer in women and stroke in men.
  8. Kombucha:
    • A popular fermented green or black-green tea, Kombucha has been quite a favorite probiotic among young and old alike.
    • The internet claims there are several benefits of Kombucha, but most of them are based on anecdotal experiences. Proper research is required to prove the claims.
    • Kombucha gets fermented by a beneficial colony of yeast and bacteria. One must exercise caution because kombucha may cause certain problems, such as nausea, vomiting, and allergies, and contain toxic chemicals leached from the containers it is prepared in.

Besides these food sources, sauerkraut, natto, fermented cheese, apple cider vinegar, and olives are good sources of probiotics as well.

What are probiotics?

Probiotic foods, according to research, can help heal the gut and nourish the gut microbiome (the beneficial bacteria in the gut).

Probiotics are living bacterial and yeast cultures that can be obtained via fermented foods or supplements. They are dubbed "pro" because they are thought to be good for health, even if science is yet to prove it. (Even if they are effective, live probiotics do not always survive the harsh environment of the stomach, so the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved probiotic supplements for treating health concerns.)

Various bacteria or yeast can be considered probiotics, but the three most common microbes found in probiotics are:

  • Bifidobacterium (bacteria)
  • Lactobacillus (bacteria)
  • Saccharomyces boulardii (yeast)

Is it true that all fermented meals are probiotic foods?

Though probiotics can be found naturally in fermented foods, not all fermented foods are probiotics. This is because fermentation is a chemical process with a variety of participants and results. Probiotics and probiotic foods can only be made with the proper ingredients.

  • For example, beer is an alcoholic beverage that undergoes a fermentation process where yeast (not bacteria) ferments sugars to produce alcohol and carbon dioxide (bubbles).
  • Some bacteria may find their way into certain beers (such as sours, which have a distinct tangy flavor due to the bacteria), but brewers make every effort to reduce bacterial contamination throughout the brewing process, and beer contains no probiotic bacteria.

What are the health benefits of probiotics?

Gut microorganisms play a key role to manage health, mental wellness, and weight according to research.

The gut contains both good and bad bacteria. When bad bacteria increase in the body, it leads to several ailments and complications. Furthermore, studies suggest that this imbalance can be corrected by eating fermented foods rich in probiotics (and by reducing bad-microbe-feeding sugars and loading up on prebiotics or fiber-rich foods).

Natural probiotics have been shown in studies to aid with irritable bowel syndrome and disease, anxiety, and seasonal allergy symptoms and reduce eczema risk in babies.

Another significant advantage of probiotics is that they may aid with weight management.

Probiotic foods may help rebalance gut microbes by establishing an environment where the good microbes can regain power.


According to the USDA, there is no difference between a “portion” and a “serving.” See Answer

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Medically Reviewed on 2/16/2022
Image Source: iStock Images

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Reid G, Gadir AA, Dhir R. Probiotics: Reiterating What They Are and What They Are Not. Front Microbiol. 2019 Mar 12;10:424. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmicb.2019.00424/full