There’s no doubt probiotics are one of the most popular gut-healing superstars out there. If probiotic supplements are always at the top of your grocery list, you’re probably also wondering what foods have probiotics, which can help you further reap the healthy bacteria’s many benefits.
“Probiotics are live bacteria that can produce health benefits to us,” says Dragana Skokovic-Sunjic, clinical pharmacist, NCMP, and author of Clinical Guide to Probiotic Supplements. Essentially, your body has both “good” and “bad” bacteria, which make up your gut microbiome (a community of bacteria) and affect various aspects of your overall health. When you incorporate “good” bacteria — aka probiotics — into your diet or supplement regimen, you’ll experience wellness benefits — for starters, it helps get rid of “bad” bacteria that makes you more vulnerable to getting sick.
The most commonly known benefit of probiotics is improved gut health and digestion. In doing so, probiotics restore balance to the gut by providing good bacteria for intestinal microbes. Skokovic-Sunjic says probiotics can also help in other ways, including improving vaginal health — mainly by regulating your vagina’s pH levels and preventing yeast infections. She notes they can also help prevent migraines when taken regularly, which is because the bacteria that lives in the gut is connected to the function of your other organs, including brain function — hence why emerging studies show the preventative effects probiotics can have on migraines. Research has also found probiotics to strengthen the immune system and minimizing the risk of the common cold and flu.
Before you stock up on all the probiotic-rich foods you can get your hands on, it’s important to note that there’s actually little known research on the exact amount of probiotics contained in any given food, says Align Healthy Gut Team Up Representative and registered dietitian nutritionist Vanessa Rissetto, RD. That’s why she also recommends including a supplement in your diet to ensure you know the exact amount you’re consuming (she says 30 billion CFUs, or colony-forming units, is a standard amount to take each day).
But, regardless of the unknowns around probiotic measurements in food, it’s still helpful for your overall health to include friendly bacteria in your diet. Registered dietitian nutritionist Marisa Moore recommends looking for diversity: “Try different types of foods with probiotics, because diversity in what you eat is always good,” she tells Bustle.
From fermented soy products to (you guessed it) yogurt, these are the expert-recommended probiotic-rich foods to eat for a boost in your gut health.
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Dragana Skokovic-Sunjic, Clinical Pharmacist, N.C.M.P., and author of Clinical Guide to Probiotic Supplements
Marisa Moore, M.B.A., R.D.N., L.D., registered dietician nutritionist
Vanessa Rissetto, R.D., C.D., registered dietician nutritionist