The demand for foods that contain probiotics is receiving global acclaim due to scientific evidence suggesting its potential health benefits. In this article, we help you select foods that can serve as an important source of beneficial microorganisms that are good for your overall well-being.  

What are probiotics?

Probiotics are known as “health-friendly bacteria” and refer to the live microorganisms that are present in fermented foods and cultured milk. When consumed in sufficient amounts, they exhibit various favourable properties towards health, right from benefitting the skin to enhancing the immune system. Read on as we explore the different probiotic foods and how you can take advantage of them!

Types of Probiotics

Several probiotics are regarded as exemplary for health. The following are a few types:

  • Lactobacillus species: Lactobacillus refers to a group of lactic acid-producing bacteria in the human gastrointestinal and genitourinary tracts. They are considered "friendly" bacteria and provide nutritional benefits like increasing the bioavailability of minerals. The species include L. plantarum, L. bulgaricus and L. sporogenes.
  • Bifidobacterium species: Bifidobacterium uses glucose and, as a result, produces lactic and acetic acids in the form of by-products. Bifidobacterium infantis is an example of this class of probiotics.
  • Bacillus species: Bacillus coagulans is a lactic acid producing bacteria, which might reduce harmful bacteria from taking charge and dominating our system.

Probiotic rich foods

  1. Yoghurt: Yoghurt is a popular fermented dairy product and is one of the best sources of probiotics as a carrier food. Apart from providing almost all the essential amino acids that our body needs, it can also deliver considerable amounts of helpful bacteria when ingested. It is supposed to be effective for lactose tolerance, immune enhancement, and the prevention of gastrointestinal disorders.
  2. Kefir: Kefir is also a dairy product, and is produced by the fermentation of milk by lactic acid bacteria and yeast. Kefir is considered a probiotic rich food and is directly associated with a range of health benefits. These benefits include antimicrobial activity and tumour suppression and can quicken the speed of wound healing.
  3. Cheese: In comparison to other fermented milk products, cheese can serve as a useful carrier to deliver micro-organisms in the human gut. The dense texture of cheese, especially fresh cheese, can make it a probiotic food to help in conveying beneficial microorganisms. This healthy cheese macaroni recipe will surely bring a big smile to your kids face. 
  4. Lassi: It is a yoghurt-based beverage and is a probiotic food of Indian origin. It aids in boosting the growth of beneficial microorganisms and is also associated with enabling smooth processing of intestinal activities. Lassi may play a role in maintaining cholesterol levels too. 
  5. Kombucha: Kombucha is prepared by adding bacteria and yeast strains to black or green tea. The resulting beverage is rich in acetic and gluconic acids, the presence of which imparts a sour taste. Kombucha's probiotic benefits are due to the diversity of naturally occurring microorganisms that express antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal effects.
  6. Pickles: Various vegetables such as cabbage, cucumbers, radishes, olives, and carrots have been subjected to lactic fermentation since ancient times to preserve them. Probiotic fermentation of vegetables is considered healthy and safe and serves as a means of inculcating good bacteria in food. This form of preserving vegetables also makes them probiotic-rich foods that can be opted for by vegetarians or those who are lactose intolerant. Try making this grandma special Indian mango pickle at home. 
  7. Sauerkraut: Sauerkraut is a nutritious fermented vegetable food prepared from cabbage. It is a natural source of probiotic bacteria and its health-promoting properties are attributed to the conversion of glucosinolate, a component that is broken down into other bioactive products.
  8. Tempeh: Tempeh is a kind of traditional fermented food made from soybeans and has a high content of soluble fibres that serve as food for microorganisms. It also expresses microbial harmony. When consumed along with soymilk, both can help regulate and improve the composition of the gut microbiota. This makes tempeh one of the essential probiotics for gut health.  
  9. Miso: It is a fermented soybean paste that possesses beneficial effects on human health. Ingestion of miso may strengthen the immune response.
  10. Natto: Natto is a probiotic rich food made from fermented soy. It contains antibacterial functions and may be used in the treatment of bacterial infectious diseases. Its main effective component is dipicolinic acid and it is effective against a variety of pathogenic species.


Health benefits of probiotics

  1. Probiotics for Gut Health: Probiotics can easily thrive in the gastrointestinal tract and also eliminate harmful competitors, thus ensuring the ecosystem of microorganisms within our intestine stays healthy. Besides, ulcerative colitis and Crohn's diseases are types of bowel diseases that have been linked to gut health and microorganisms flourishing in it. Since the advantages of probiotics include their ability to act as anti-inflammatory and enhance immunity, they can help prevent and/or treat these conditions.
  2. Immunity Enhancement: Favourable cultures can stimulate immunity. Probiotic benefits include their therapeutic applications in the treatment of infections and carcinogenesis.
  3. Hypocholesterolemic Effect: Probiotic foods benefit cholesterol levels as they help reduce total cholesterol as well as decrease the Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL), which is known to be a type of "bad fat" harmful to the body. They can also interfere with cholesterol absorption, thus ensuring our body excretes it out. 
  4. Probiotics in Diabetes and Obesity: Insulin is a hormone that is secreted to maintain blood glucose levels. Insulin resistance is a condition when our cells cannot obtain insulin, due to which the glucose in our blood increases. It is observed that the gut flora has a role to play in the behaviour of insulin resistance as well as body weight, and can be influenced by the consumption of probiotics.
  5. Maintain Skin Health: The health benefits of probiotics are also linked to their positive effects on the skin. The ingestion of beneficial microorganisms may improve atopic eczema as well as wound and scar healing. Besides, probiotics could help with overall skin rejuvenation. 
  6. Oral Health: Antibiotic-resistance bacteria have been extensively studied, thus hinting at the advantages of probiotics in boosting oral health. They may be used to prevent oral diseases such as dental caries.


While probiotic benefits our health in a variety of forms, for them to be effective in restoring normal flora, they must be able to persist in the intestine. Thus, it necessitates the selection of non-toxic and stable probiotics foods that will reach the target cells and help the consumer reap maximum benefits for good health!