Maintaining a healthy microbiome — the trillions of microorganisms that live in and on our bodies — plays an important role in reducing inflammation and warding off illnesses ranging from colds to cancer. In addition, these helpful bacteria may help burn body fat and reduce insulin resistance. To feed your microbiome, consider adding more of these healthful probiotic foods to your plate.
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Kombucha tea: Fizzy and with some vinegar-esque tang to it, some types of kombucha contain live, active bacteria — though the process of pasteurization kills much of the beneficial bugs. Because homemade kombucha has been linked to toxicity, stick to store-bought kombucha sold in the refrigerated case and read labels to ensure you don’t pick one that’s loaded with added sugars.
Sauerkraut: Don’t hold back when you see sauerkraut at potlucks and barbecues this summer. To get the maximum probiotic benefit, choose fresh sauerkraut sold in the refrigerated section at stores or make your own at home because canned sauerkraut rarely contains the beneficial live, active bacteria you want.
Tempeh: Often used as a meat alternative, similar to tofu, tempeh is made from fermented soybeans or grains molded into a loaf-like form. In addition to being a good source of probiotics, tempeh is a good source of iron and contains about 15 grams of protein per ½ cup.
Kefir: Think of kefir as drinkable yogurt. Smooth and slightly tangy, it’s lactose-free and easy to digest, plus it’s a great source of protein.
Miso paste: This condiment — a staple in stir-fry recipes, miso soup and other Asian dishes — is made from aged, fermented soybeans. It’s a good source of protein and fiber but also very high in sodium. Use a little at a time.
Yogurt: Always look for yogurt that indicates it contains “live active cultures” on the label. To keep added sugar grams under control, choose plain yogurt and add a little sliced fruit, or choose cartons that contain less than 15 grams of sugar per serving.