6 Probiotic Food Sources You Probably Didn't Know About — And Why You Should
Yogurt has long been the poster child for probiotics, the healthy bacteria that help digestion, urinary tract infections, vaginal yeast infections and can ward off cold and flu symptoms. But while Jamie Lee Curtis may have convinced us long ago that we'd have to suck it up and eat Activia every day if we ever wanted to roller skate through parks with our friends again, there's a slew of other foods and drinks that can deliver a daily dose of probiotics to your gut.
Read more: 5 Healthy Foods You Can Grow Indoors Yourself
The six foods below are all great sources of probiotics (and any lovers of international cuisine might be particularly pleased with these options):
This typical German side of fermented cabbage often accompanies sausage, hot dogs and other meats. The fermentation process breeds probiotic bacteria, which promotes growth of good bacteria in the gut and helps to strengthen immune systems, according to Livestrong. However, make sure to get fresh sauerkraut, as pasteurization kills probiotic bacteria.
Eating kimchi in your office may get you scolded by your coworkers over the smell, but the Korean dish's pungent aroma is actually essential to its health benefits. Like sauerkraut, kimchi gets its probiotics from fermentation, specifically a bacteria called Lactobacillus, which helps maintain intestinal health. So take a cue from Tyra Banks on this one:
Though kombucha has recently seen a spike in popularity, the fermented tea beverage has been around for more than 2,000 years, according to Food Renegade. The ancient Chinese called kombucha the "immortal health elixir," which sounds promising in and of itself. Made from sweetened black tea and combined with a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast, also known by its acronym SCOBY, kombucha helps maintain a healthy liver and has been found to help prevent cancer, arthritis and more.
This Breakfast Burrito
Good news: Burritos can now be "functional." Eco-friendly company Sweet Earth Foods offers a line of "functional burritos," all packed with protein, fiber and vitamins. But it's their vegan "Get Cultured!" breakfast burrito that stands out for its probiotic offerings. The Korean-inspired burrito includes seasoned tofu, cabbage, fermented red pepper, edamame and ginger.
Perhaps most commonly consumed in soup form, miso is a Japanese food made from fermented soybeans. While the probiotics in miso offer the same perks of improving overall digestive health, experts recommend it be eaten in moderation due to its high sodium content. Still, miso can be especially effective in helping to ward off breast, lung, liver and colon cancers.
This Drinking Straw
For the picky eaters, there's at least one other option out there — drinking straws. The health care company BioGaia has developed what they call ProTectis straws, each of which contains a "small oil droplet with a daily dose of 100 million active Lactobacillus reuteri Protectis." The straws can be used with any cold or room temperature drink — and fret not: According to BioGaia, the straw has no effect on the taste of your beverage.