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Have you ever wondered if there’s a way to improve your gut health?

Perhaps you’ve suffered from leaky gut or a similar digestive issue?

Or maybe you’re just looking to achieve clearer skin, brighter mood, and better overall health?

Here’s the thing: probiotics will help you with all of the above.

Here at Cates Nutrition, we’ll explain the science behind probiotics – what they are, how they benefit you, along with the list of the healthiest probiotic foods.

Have a look:

What Are Probiotics?

So what exactly are probiotics?

These are friendly bacteria and active microorganisms that live in your gut. They are also found in probiotic-rich foods (which we’ll list down below).

Probiotics offer many health benefits when ingested. From improving digestion, nutrient absorption to bolstering your immune system.

Not only do probiotics enhance your physical health, they are also shown to boost mood. Thus alleviating depression, anxiety, and stress.

In fact, certain strains of probiotics are linked with higher production of GABA in the brain. (12)

GABA is a neurotransmitter which slows down the firing between neurons. In other words, it relaxes your entire nervous system, making you feel peaceful and calm.

Other research shows that probiotics improve heart health. These friendly bacteria can even improve the quality of your skin.

So if you have acne, probiotics are a must-have in your diet.

Now, before you run to the nearest pharmacy to buy a bottle of probiotics. Know that you can get all of these benefits from eating good old probiotic foods. They are cheap, natural, and above all – effective at boosting your health.

Below we have a list of the 10 healthiest probiotic foods.

gut bacteria illustration

Healthiest Probiotic Foods

Kefir

Kefir is essentially a mixture of milk and starter kefir grains. When left at room temperature, these grains ferment in the milk, serving as a breeding ground for friendly bacteria.

As kefir grains ferment in milk, the bacteria start eating the milk sugar (lactose). During this process, the milk thickens. Eventually, you end up with a yogurt-like substance.

Except kefir is even better than yogurt.

That’s correct – even though yogurt is arguably the most popular probiotic food, kefir contains even more friendly bacteria. (1)

Once ingested, these bacteria colonize your gut. There, they contribute to the balance of your intestinal flora, ensuring that the ratio of friendly to bad bacteria stays in favor of the friendly ones.

Kefir has anti-microbial and anti-tumor properties. It also helps to prevent a whole host of other ailments. It does this by boosting the immune system and improving digestion – two important factors in your overall health. (1)

I know what you’re thinking.

“But what if I’m lactose intolerant?”

Good news: people who are intolerant to dairy usually don’t have the same problem with kefir.

That’s because of the friendly bacteria in kefir, which break the lactose down for you.

Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut is basically fermented cabbage. It’s made by shredding cabbage into fine small chunks and letting them ferment in containers.

During the fermentation process, healthy bacteria in cabbage multiply. This process turns the cabbage into sauerkraut – giving it its distinctive taste.

Many Europeans love to eat sauerkraut in winter months. Because it’s brimming with friendly lactic acid bacteria and vitamin C. Both of which boost the immune system.

Alongside these nutrients, sauerkraut also contains vitamins B and K, along with sodium, manganese, and iron. (2)

Not only does sauerkraut contain plenty of vitamins and minerals, but it’s also rich in phytonutrients. These include lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidants which improve eye health and prevent macular degeneration. (3)

However, a lot of the sauerkraut from your typical grocery store doesn’t have any benefits. A lot of commercially available sauerkraut products are pasteurized. Pasteurization is a process that kills all bacteria – both good and bad.

So either make your own sauerkraut. Or if that’s not an option, find raw sauerkraut, either in an organic store or online.

sauerkraut

Fermented Cucumbers (Pickles)

Pickles, AKA gherkins, are cucumbers that have been preserved in a mixture of water and salt.

Pickles naturally contain lactic acid bacteria. When they sit in the mixture, pickles ferment and good bacteria proliferate.

Not only do pickles contain a large number of friendly bacteria, they are also full of vitamin K. This nutrient is essential for blood clotting.

And the best of all, pickles are low in calories.

The only downside to this food is that it’s usually high in sodium. But if you make your own pickles, you can control how much salt you put into them.

Keep an eye on the ingredients in pickles if you buy them from a grocery store. Avoid those which contain vinegar – it kills the friendly bacteria.