If you can’t afford probiotics on a regular basis, or you would like to add to your existing course of probiotic supplements, there are several excellent probiotic foods that can help to repopulate your intestine. These can be taken at the same time as probiotic supplements and are a great addition to any diet.
These foods include probiotic yogurt, kefir and fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi. Some of them are an acquired taste, but you are sure to find at least one to enjoy. These traditional fermented foods are packed full of nutritional goodness. They form the basis of the diets of many traditional cultures, and are still widely eaten around the world today.
Here are some probiotic foods that you can add to your diet:
- Apple Cider Vinegar
Consuming probiotic foods is one of the easiest ways to boost your immune system, improve your digestion, and fight off gut-based pathogens like Candida. Let’s take a look at a few of those probiotic foods in more detail.
Most yogurts have probiotic qualities, but some are better than others. Yogurts that are promoted as specifically ‘probiotic’ are generally best. Check that they contain some of the bacteria listed on our Choosing a Probiotic page. Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacteria bifidum are particularly helpful. Avoid yogurts that claim to be probiotic but don’t list the specific strains of bacteria on the packaging.
Remember that excess sugar can feed or restart a Candida overgrowth. Make sure to buy yogurt with a lower sugar content, and certainly no added sugar. Plain yogurt is almost always the best. Once you get used to less sugar in your diet, you will start to enjoy the tangy flavor of unsweetened yogurt, and find other yogurts too sugary. Depending on what stage of the diet you have reached, adding some frozen berries makes for a tasty snack. Lastly, always buy organic yogurt if you can.
Even better, forget the confusing labels on supermarket brands and make your own probiotic yogurt. This is as easy as buying a yogurt culture and some milk, then putting in a little effort to set things up. The probiotic bacteria do all the hard work for you. If you leave your yogurt to ferment a little longer than recommended, your yogurt will contain fewer natural sugars and more healthy bacteria.
Kefir is a traditional fermented milk drink that you may find in your local supermarket. Most kefir is simply milk fermented with kefir grains, although you can also find water kefir and coconut water kefir. This drink has been fermented for centuries and is full of micronutrients and probiotic bacteria.
You can make your own kefir very easily. Just find some kefir grains (you can buy packs of dried grains online, get some from a friend, or look on Craigslist) and place them in a jar of milk. Within a couple of days you will have some delicious kefir!
The best thing about kefir is that you can keep using those same grains almost indefinitely. In fact, they will grow and multiply over time, so you’ll probably have some to share. This is a very economical way to produce your probiotics.
You can read more about kefir on our How To Make Your Own Kefir page.
Other Fermented Foods
Sauerkraut and kimchi are the most commonly used fermented foods. Both are types of fermented cabbage. These are even easier to make than yogurt and kefir, because you don’t need a started culture. The cabbage comes ‘pre-loaded’ with the bacteria it needs to ferment itself.
If you buy sauerkraut or kimchi in the supermarket, make sure that you buy the ‘raw’ or ‘unpasteurized’ form. Modern production methods mean that much of the sauerkraut you see on the shelves has been stripped of all its probiotic goodness. The food is pasteurized before being canned or jarred, destroying all the billions of beneficial bacteria that it contains. If you can’t find a raw sauerkraut at your store, try local markets or health food stores instead, and look for locally produced fermented foods.
You can also easily make your own sauerkraut. Cut the cabbage into thin strips, toss it with a little sea salt, then pack it down tightly into a bowl. Cover with a wooden lid, then let the fermentation process do all the hard work for you! After a couple of weeks, it should be ready. And of course your homemade sauerkraut is guaranteed to be full of healthy bacteria, unlike most of the stuff you can buy in the shops.
In addition, both sauerkraut and kimchi are high in vitamins C and B12, which can help build up your immune system and fight off your Candida overgrowth. Sauerkraut was even used on long sea voyages where vitamin C deficiency was traditionally a problem – it keeps longer than other vegetables and provided a healthy source of nutrients even after many months at sea.
Although prebiotic foods don’t generally contain many bacteria, what they do contain is the food that your healthy bacteria need to survive and grow. So adding some prebiotic foods to your diet will certainly not hurt, and it may just help rebalance your gut bacteria a little quicker. Chicory root is a great example. Chicory coffee is caffeine free, has a similarly bitter taste to normal coffee, and contains an excellent prebiotic name Inulin that will help the colonies of beneficial bacteria flourish in your gut. Inulin is also added to many probiotic supplements.
For lots more information on natural ways to boost your gut flora, including lots of recipes that incorporate fermented foods, take a look at my Ultimate Candida Diet treatment program. Rebalancing your gut flora can improve your digestion, heal your gut, and improve your energy levels.