Top 10 probiotic foods that help improve gut health

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Microbiome is the collective name for the hundreds of trillions of bacteria that live in our digestive tract, govern our bodies’ main functions and are crucial to our overall health. Balancing the microbiome in your gut can help you lose weight, and the best way to achieve that balance is by eating fermented foods – the new superfoods – that are rich in live bacteria. These foods are rich in probiotics, which are live bacteria that help to balance the microbiome by supporting the good bacteria and making it difficult for the bad bacteria to thrive. Probiotics include lactobacilli and bifidobacteria.

Steer clear of the pasteurised versions, as pasteurisation will destroy many of the naturally occurring probiotics.

And here’s a bonus tip: To support the growth of probiotic bacteria, you also have to choose foods known as prebiotics. These foods naturally contain lots of soluble fibre, such as garlic, bananas, onions, asparagus, artichokes, leeks and honey.

Here’s a look at the top 10 probiotic foods to eat to help you improve the ratio of good to bad bacteria in your gut:

1. Lassi, an Indian yogurt drink that can be either sweet or savoury. It's a blend of yogurt or buttermilk with water, spices and sometimes, fruit.

2. Fermented raw milk, such as kefir or yogurt, but not the commercial versions, which typically don't have live cultures and are instead loaded with sugars.

3. Kimchi, also spelt kimchee or gimchi, a Korean side dish of spicy, seasoned, pickled vegetables, usually cabbage, radishes and scallions.

4. Tempeh, a soy product traditionally from Indonesia, made from cooked and slightly fermented soybeans that are formed into a burger-like patty.

5. Natto, fermented soybeans, typically eaten for breakfast in Japan.

6. Miso, another traditionally Japanese ingredient. It's a thick paste with a salty, tangy flavour produced by fermenting soybeans with salt and a fungus called kojikin. Miso soup is a tablespoon of miso in some hot water.

7. Various pickled fermentations of vegetables, such as sauerkraut, turnips, aubergine, cucumbers, onions and carrots.

8. Kombucha, a form of fermented, sweetened black tea that originated in China and dates back 2,000 years. A warning though: it can contain trace amounts of alcohol.

9. Cheese curd, the solid parts of soured milk, with a springy or rubbery texture. Cheese curd is fresh, mild-tasting, often made from cheddar and the best part of Canadian poutine (think fries smothered in hot gravy and plenty of melted cheese).

10. Microalgae, made from superfood ocean-based plants such as spirulina, chlorella and blue-green algae, comes in powder form and is an excellent addition to a morning smoothie.