Boost Your Probiotics With These 13 Foods

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Probiotics and Prebiotics

Artichokes
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You have bacteria living in your digestive tract. 

They're friendly bacteria, or "probiotics" that help keep bad bacteria and yeast from growing in your gut. Common strains include Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. 

Friendly bacteria also make vitamin K, which is essential for normal blood clotting, plus they're necessary for immune system function.

These little probiotic guys are good, and you want lots of them, so how do you get more of these friendly bacteria to grow and flourish? One option is to take dietary supplements, but I think the better way is to eat plenty of foods that contain probiotics.

It's also important to take care of your bacterial friends—to feed them. You can do that by eating foods that contain fibers called fructooligosaccharides (FOS). You can't digest these fibers, but they promote probiotic growth in your intestinal tract. 

Read on to learn which foods will help keep your friendly gut bacteria happy and healthy.

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Yogurt

Yogurt boosts your probiotics.
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Yogurt is probably the best-known dietary source of probiotics, but it's also good for you for other reasons—yogurt is an excellent source of calcium, protein, and potassium. Plain yogurt with fresh fruit, a little honey, and some nuts is perfect as a dessert or snack.

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Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut boosts your probiotics.
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Sauerkraut is an excellent source of probiotics, fiber, manganese, potassium, iron, calcium, and vitamin C. But sauerkraut does tend to be high in sodium, so it may not be the best choice if you are on a low-sodium diet. Serve sauerkraut as a side dish.

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Miso

Miso paste boosts your probiotics.
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Miso is a paste made from fermented soy and is used to make miso soup. Miso is high in iron and B-complex vitamins, but it's also high in sodium, so it may not be good if you're cutting back on sodium and salt.

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Kefir

Glass with kefir (sour-milk drink)
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Kefir is a usually made from fermented milk, so it's similar to yogurt, which means it's also high in calcium and protein. Kefir can also be made with other liquids, so check the label for nutrition information.

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Kimchi

Kimchi boosts your probiotics.
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Kimchi is made from fermented vegetables, usually cabbage. It has a wonderful spicy flavor. Kimchi is an excellent source of probiotics, plus it's high in fiber, vitamins A and C, calcium, and the antioxidants typically found in cruciferous vegetables.

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Tempeh

Tempeh boosts your probiotics.
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Tempeh is made from cooked and fermented soy. It has a delicious nutty flavor and is used in vegetarian and vegan dishes. Besides the probiotics, tempeh is an excellent source of calcium, magnesium, potassium, and manganese.  

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Aged Cheese

Aged cheddar boosts your probiotics.
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Eating aged cheeses such as cheddar and gouda will provide you with probiotics plus calcium and protein. The cheese needs to age—fresh cheese, such as mozzarella and feta, doesn't contain probiotics. Sprinkle cheddar cheese on a salad or make a healthy and declicious fruit and cheese plate to serve at a party or as an appetizer.

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Artichokes

Artichokes boosts your probiotics.
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Artichokes are high in prebiotic fiber that probiotic bacteria need to thrive. They're also high in magnesium, potassium, vitamin C, and manganese, and they're low in calories. Artichokes can be roasted or you can find artichoke hearts in jars or cans to use in sauces or to top salads.

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Bananas

Bananas boosts your probiotics.
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Bananas are high in prebiotic fiber that supports probiotic growth, plus they offer plenty of manganese, potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin B-6. A banana makes a great mid-morning snack or add a sliced banana to hot cereal or cold yogurt. Frozen bananas are the main ingredient in many healthy smoothie recipes too.

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Onions

Onions boosts your probiotics.
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Onions will keep the bacteria in your gut happy and they're low in calories. Onions are also high in manganese, vitamin C, and potassium. Shallots, which have a flavor similar to onions, are also probiotic. Add them to soups and salads or look for recipes that feature onions.

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Leeks

Leeks boosts your probiotics.
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Leeks have a flavor similar to onions, and they're also high in the fibers that support friendly bacteria. Leeks are also low in calories and high in vitamin A, vitamin C, manganese, iron, and magnesium. 

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Garlic

Garlic boosts your probiotics.
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Garlic not only adds flavor to a variety of savory dishes, it also supports probiotic growth. Garlic also has other a number of additional health benefits. Add fresh garlic to soups and sauces or roast garlic and spread it on toasted whole grain bread.

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Asparagus

Asparagus boosts your probiotics.
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Asparagus is rich in fiber, including fiber that supports probiotic bacteria. Asparagus is also high in just about every vitamin and mineral, plus it's super low in calories.

Sources:

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. "Prebiotics and Probiotics: The Dynamic Duo."  

United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28.   

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