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Nutrition 101

Natural Sources of Probiotics

Natural Sources of Probiotics

Photo credit: nemuneko.jc

Senior Culinary Nutritionist Natalia Hancock explains the benefits of probiotics and gives examples of natural food sources.

You may have heard of the term “probiotic” but might not be entirely sure what it means and why it’s such a hot topic right now. 

Our digestive tracts are full of many different types of bacteria. Some are harmful and can cause illness, but many are actually beneficial and can help maintain healthy digestion; they’ve even been shown to reduce the risk of cancer. These “good” bacteria are called probiotics.  Since it’s impossible to rid our bodies of all the harmful bacteria, we strive to balance good bacteria with the bad. A healthy balance of bacteria in the gut has been shown to ease lactose intolerance and a host of other common digestive problems.

To take advantage of probiotics, you could purchase one of the many (sometimes expensive) probiotic supplements available over the counter, or pay up for yogurts and other fermented foods that are marketed for their special probiotic content. I prefer to simply eat foods that naturally contain probiotics. Lactobacillus or bifidobacteria are two common types of helpful bacteria found naturally in some of the following fermented foods:

  • Greek yogurt (try this delicious chia pudding recipe)
  • Sauerkraut
  • Miso (miso-poached salmon is a great way to incorporate some omega-3s too!)
  • Pickles
  • Kefir
  • Kombucha
  • Kimchi
  • Buttermilk
  • Tempeh


It’s important to note that not all fermented foods contain live cultures in the finished products. For example, sourdough bread has been baked at high temperatures that destroy the bacteria. Beer and wine are fermented but are usually filtered, which also removes the good bacteria.

In addition to incorporating these foods that naturally contain probiotics in your diet, you should also aim to have prebiotic foods in your diet as well.

nutrition advice, nutrition facts, probiotics, greek yogurt

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