Our body also needs some living microorganisms to collaborate with certain organic functions and that is why there are foods that provide us with these microorganisms, specifically bacteria that favor the balance of the intestinal microbiota called natural probiotic foods.

Here we present the following article, where we provide you with all the information you need to know about foods rich in probiotics and how they strengthen your intestinal health.

What are probiotic foods?

First of all, we must know that it is a probiotic. According to the definition of the World Health Organization through the FAO , a probiotic is all those “live microorganisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer health benefits on the host or recipient  . (1)

In this sense, probiotic foods are all those foods that contain “good” living microorganisms within their composition and that are mainly responsible for maintaining stable or improving the intestinal flora.

Note: A probiotic food is also called a functional food, because there is a relationship between its consumption and, in this case, its health benefits.

On the other hand, foods rich in natural probiotics may contain beneficial yeasts and bacteria, depending on their origin, and have the property of reducing the probability of contracting diseases. 

This is how in nature there is a source of interesting natural probiotics, which can be of animal or vegetable origin and which we can take advantage of almost infinitely to maintain and improve our well-being.

You should know: Probiotics are not the same as prebiotics , since the latter refers to vegetable fibers that serve as fertilizers that stimulate the growth of healthy bacteria in the intestine .

What are probiotic foods?

Below we describe the foods rich in natural probiotics, which can help you promote intestinal flora and maintain your digestive health:

1. Yogurt

Yogurt is a dairy food of animal origin, since it comes mainly from cow’s milk and  arises from a fermentation process from the action of different bacteria that transform a part of the lactose in cow’s milk into acid. lactic acid and an increase in consistency is produced by coagulation of the proteins. The 3 microorganisms most used in the production of yogurt are Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus casei Shirota and Bifidobacteria.

Note: Yogurt is one of the fermented foods with a large number of natural probiotic microorganisms that promote the improvement of the bacterial flora in the intestines. (two)

2. Cheese

Another food that arises from the fermentation process of cow’s milk or other types of milk is cheese. After its manufacturing process, this product contains bacteria and fungi with probiotic properties, which favor your intestinal health.

In this sense, the consumption of cheese is advantageous with respect to fermented milk as a vehicle for healthy microorganisms, since it has a higher pH, greater consistency and higher fat content, which are factors that contribute to the protection of bacteria. beneficial during gastrointestinal transit. (3)

You should know: For a fermented food to have the benefits of probiotic bacteria, it would have to contain strains of bacteria whose beneficial action has been proven. (4)

3. Olives

Some vegetables that are fermented are a source of natural probiotics for the body. This is the case of olives, which, subjected to fermentation with brine, favor the proliferation of microorganisms such as lactic acid bacteria, which are beneficial for our intestines. 

To highlight: For those people who are lactose intolerant, the intake of olives as a source of probiotics is a viable alternative to maintain the balance of the microbiota. (5)

4. Kombucha

Kombucha tea is a fermented infusion that is prepared with tea, sugar, bacteria, and yeast . This combination of bacteria and fungi is called kombucha and is added to the rest of the ingredients, it provides a large amount of probiotics to the digestive system, favoring its functioning. 

Note: Studies indicate that the combination of vitamins and antioxidants in green tea as an ingredient in kombucha make it a very special drink, since in addition to protecting the digestive tract, it prevents the appearance of many other diseases (6)

5. Kefir

One of the richest foods in probiotics is kefir . This is a type of Bulgarian yogurt, made from cow’s or goat’s milk and closely resembles plain yogurt .

Kefir is made from fresh milk and kefir grains, which when mixed create a double fermentation. These grains contain bacterial colonies of various species such as lactobacillus, streptococcus, bifidobacterium among others, with probiotic properties , which favor the care of the digestive system. (7)

To highlight: Depending on how the kefir is made, this probiotic can contain up to 30 strains of good bacteria that help fight many diseases.

6. Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut is another product that arises from the fermentation of fresh cabbage or cabbage leaves in brine (salted water). Many researchers do not believe it is appropriate to use the term probiotic for sauerkraut, since it is not made with selected bacteria, but many microorganisms arise from the fermentation process, some of them with beneficial effects on the intestinal flora.

Note: One study indicates that sauerkraut contains a stable community of microorganisms beneficial for gut health. (8)


Tempeh is another fermented product that comes from soybeans and a fungus called Rhizopus , shaped like a cake. 

Despite the scant scientific study on this fermented soybean product, tempeh has been attributed properties to modulate the intestinal immune system, inhibiting the growth of aflatoxins , Helicobacter Pylori, Bacillus subtillis and Staphylococcus aureus thanks to the presence of the Rhizopus fungus , preserving gastrointestinal health.

You should know: Studies indicate that the consumption of tempeh improves the flora in the intestines and prevents or treats diseases such as diarrhea. (9)


Miso is a condiment typical of Asian food, specifically Japanese, made from soybeans from which a fermented paste is obtained. This soy product after fermentation contains lactic acid bacteria, such as Lactobacillus , so it is a great probiotic and is often used in soups, but it is also used to season salads and vegetables.

Note: Miso is an easier food to digest because microorganisms break down the soy protein resulting in amino acids, so that the body can easily assimilate, in addition to balancing the intestinal bacterial flora. 

9. Kimchi

Kimchi is a type of food whose preparation is 100% with vegetables that include turnip, cucumber , Chinese cabbage, salt, sauce with garlic, ginger or chilies after being processed with a fermentation technique with the presence of probiotic acid bacteria. lactic in a salty medium.

To highlight Studies report the probiotic property of kimchi after fermentation. (10)

10. Buttermilk

Buttermilk is a semi-liquid substance and is itself the whey obtained from the residue left over from making butter in the traditional way. However, this surplus serving contains plenty of gut-healthy probiotics that you can easily include in your diet.

Note: Industrially made buttermilk does not contain the same amount of healthy microorganisms as artisanal buttermilk, so its benefits are different.

11. Dark chocolate

The dark dark chocolate extracted from cocoa differs from the previous foods, because it does not arise from a fermentation process and therefore does not contain healthy bacteria. 

To highlight: This natural food is rich in polyphenol compounds, especially flavonoids that act as prebiotics on the intestinal microbiota, favoring the growth of healthy bacteria such as Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus .

12. Microalgae

Microalgae are living microorganisms, which add to the human intestinal flora to regenerate and strengthen it. Among these microalgae we have chlorella , spirulina, kombu and carry Lactobacillus and bifidobacteria , whose function is to serve as prebiotic food for the already established intestinal bacterial flora.

Key Findings

  • Probiotic foods contain bacteria and yeasts that support intestinal flora and the health of the digestive tract.  
  • To be considered as such, they must contain a high percentage of healthy bacteria.
  • These microorganisms arise after a fermentation mechanism without the inclusion of pasteurization in the manufacturing process.
  • The amount of microorganisms contained in a probiotic food may depend on its manufacturing method. 
  • Prebiotics serve as food for bacteria and yeast with healthy effects on the gastrointestinal system.

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