5 Ways to Consume More Probiotics

5 Ways to Consume More Probiotics without taking a supplement

The human body has more bacterial cells that human cells and a large part of these live in the digestive system. New research is constantly showing the relationship of gut bacteria to many aspects of health. Unfortunately, the modern diet is largely deficient in foods that nourish this gut bacteria in a healthy way since many foods are pasteurized, irradiated or created in a sterile lab.

The balance of bacteria in the gut is important for immune health, hormone balance and many other aspects of wellness. Many of the foods that are most often consumed these days are high in sugar, processed grains, vegetable oils and foods that often let the “bad” bacteria grow more than they should.

Adding probiotic rich foods and drinks to the diet is an easy way to give gut bacteria a boost and to keep the digestive system in proper balance. Here are five easy ways to consume more probiotics:

1. Make Some Kraut

Traditional homemade sauerkraut recipe-packed with probioticsThink you don’t like sauerkraut? You probably have just never had a traditionally made sauerkraut. Unlike canned and store-bought options, traditional sauerkraut is crispy, salty and delicious.

You can make it on your kitchen counter for the cost of some cabbage and it is a great way to add vegetables and probiotics to your diet. Almost any vegetable can be fermented and books like Wild Fermentation and Nourishing Traditions have a lot of great recipes.

Click here to see my recipe for delicious homemade sauerkraut.

2. Or Some Kvass…

How to Make Beet Kvass and whyLike sauerkraut, Kvass is a naturally fermented and probiotic-rich drink with other health-boosting properties. Nourishing Traditions explains that it is:

“valuable for its medicinal qualities and as a digestive aid. Beets are loaded with nutrients. One glass morning and night is an excellent blood tonic, promotes regularity, aids digestion, alkalizes the blood, cleanses the liver and is a good treatment for kidney stones and other ailments.”

We drink Kvass and use it in salad dressings. I sometimes mix Kvass with slightly cooled broth for a warm drink.

Here is the recipe for Beet Kvass.

3. Water Kefir “Soda”

How to make healthy probiotic water kefir natural sodaThe kids’ favorite way to consume probiotics is in the form of Water Kefir “Soda.” Water Kefir is made by using a natural colony of beneficial yeast and bacteria to ferment a sugar water solution.

The bacteria consumes the sugar in the water and in the process creates probiotics and enzymes. If a secondary fermentation is done, the result is a naturally fizzy fermented probiotic drink that is reminiscent of a fruit soda. There are endless ways to customize water kefir soda flavors.

Water Kefir is dairy free and easy to make on the kitchen counter. Click here for my full tutorial.

4. Kombucha

how to make kombucha easy recipeKombucha has gained a lot of popularity lately and many stores now carry pre-bottled kombucha drinks. Kombucha contains a host of enzymes and probiotics and has a naturally tangy and fizzy taste. While I love store-bought versions, I’m not a fan of the $5/bottle price tag.

Kombucha is very simple to make at home and once you purchase a SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast) the cost per gallon is less than $2. This is another thing that is often sitting on our counter. I actually brew two different ways:

We always do a secondary ferment with some organic juice to get the natural carbonation and this homemade kombucha is definitely my favorite way to get probiotics. Click on the links above to see the recipes. I recommend finding someone local who can share a SCOBY if possible, or buying from Kombucha Kamp if you can’t find one near you.

5. Homemade Ginger Ale

How to make natural ginger ale- a healthy and delicious treat full of probiotics and enzymesAnother favorite at our house is homemade ginger ale. This recipe uses a ginger “bug” made from fresh ginger, natural sugars and wild bacteria to create a beneficial colony of bacteria that is then used to ferment a strong ginger tea.

Unlike conventional soda which often contains high fructose corn syrup and artificial ingredients, this natural recipe combines the digestive benefits of fresh ginger with beneficial bacteria for a fizzy and refreshing “soda.”

Here’s the recipe.

If you haven’t already tried these fermented foods and drinks, I’d really encourage you to give them a try! Not only are they delicious, but full of health-boosting properties.

The suggestion to add probiotic rich fermented foods to my diet was one of the best pieces of health advice I’ve ever gotten. I HIGHLY it!

What is the best food advice you’ve ever received? Ever fermented anything? Share below!

Fermented foods and drinks contain probiotics that boost gut bacteria. Probiotic rich recipes for sauerkraut, water kefir, kvass, kombucha and ginger ale.

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Reader Comments

  1. Well, at this point I HOPE it’s to go Paleo and not CW nutritional standpoints. Time will tell but so far, I’m on board and anxious to learn all I can to make my own best decisions. I will say I had to Unsubscribe from all of my health newsletters (Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Shape Magazine blah blah blah << all nonsense) So, I think on I'm the right track I just have to keep my ears closed to most media outlets 🙂 

  2. The best advise I ever got was last year from a chiropractor, who said to check my vitamin D levels. I was sick 3-4 times a year with cold and chest congestions, my vitamin D turned out to be a 17, and needs to be like 50 or something 🙂  Now I take Vitamin D and haven’t been the least bit sick in over a year!

    • Fifteen minutes a day builds your vitamin D in the summer months works too. We all need more sunshine D.

  3. My 94 year old grandma grows a huge veggie garden and cans and freezes for the whole year! She has her own milk cow, chickens, and beef. She makes everything from scratch and only goes to the Grocery store like once a month or less..impressive!  She isn’t on any prescription meds and still gets around great!

    • I make the sauerkraut, super easy. We love the water kefir, super easy.
      I have made Kombucha-but I have issue with it and hope you can help. I have been successful a couple times, but it has a vinegar taste. My friends kombucha is sweet. My last couple of attempts gave failed. The scoby did not grow a “baby”. It is so frustrating. Any insight ascyo why it would fail and/or be vinegar-ish?

    • That’s great! I hope to be like her someday!

  4. A piece of advice that has worked for me is:  if I decide to eat sugar or processed foods (like the other day when I had a bit too much ice cream), just notice how I feel afterward.  This is enough to remind me why I choose to eat a paleo-style diet and keeps me focused.  (I signed up for the newsletter!)

  5. Our surgeon for my son suggested going grain free, and my Ob said even one glass of wine in early pregnancy can cause a miscarriage.

  6. The best health advice I’ve received was in April of this year. It was to try the Paleo diet for 30 days (no grains, no refined sugars, no legumes, no dairy). Wow, what a difference in my energy level, motivation, and hormones! And the best part is I’m not taking any crazy supplements or drugs! I just have had to change how I cook and eat. I recommend giving it a try if you haven’t!

  7. The best advice I have ever gotten was to eat a lot of fats! It was really made a difference for me.

  8. The best advice I ever got was to give up grains.  Not to sound like a kiss-up but before that point every piece of advice I’d been given followed right along with Conventional Wisdom. 

  9. And I think the best advice was hammered in pretty early on…don’t smoke! It’s easy to quit if you never stop. So I never have to worry about all the negative side effects or the cost involved!

  10. The best advice I received (recently) was to never eat anything that doesn’t rot.

  11. The best advice I got about nutrition was from someone who worked for Couple to Couple League. She suggested drinking whole, raw milk to help with infertility. It wasn’t just switching milk-it was the spark that began my investigation of REAL food and how necessary it was for me.

  12. The best advice I received was being given the book ” Super Baby Foods”. Looking up the book online, I came across a review of the book in Passionate Homemaking’s blog. That started me on my TF conversion. It’s been 2 years now and our diet (while still a work in progress) barely resembles what it did before.

    • Yes! I love super baby food. Ruth is super informative! I highly recommend that any body that has a new baby gets and reads the book, cover to cover!

  13. this might not be “advice” but it is something that i learned, but most importantly, my young impressionable daughter learned about 1.5 years ago. she had an infection in her throat/neck or something. went to the chiro, he adjusted her and massaged her. i needed to take her to a family practice (after firing her pediatrician as he said chiros are no good). the family practice doctor said that he needed to prescribe her antibiotics. when i said i didn’t want her to have any, he said “what if she has strep”. i knew she didn’t, absolutely no symptoms, but i wanted to see what would happen. he swabbed her and while “waiting” for the results, he said that he hoped she had strep so i would allow her to have antibiotics. shockingly the test came back positive. i had her rest that day and the next, by the following day (36 hours) she was good to go and perfect again, without any antibiotics, but just with going grain free, sugar free and eating healthy foods, stocking up on vitamin c, water and rest. my little princess still remembers it and talks about being healthy all the time and that by good food, water, rest and exercise, she will be healthy for a long time. 

  14. The best advice I received was being given the book ” Super Baby Foods”. Looking up the book online, I came across a review of the book in Passionate Homemaking’s blog. That started me on my TF conversion.

  15. Best advice I get is from Mark’s Daily Apple website. My husband and I both went primal and have lost weight and feel great! My father-in-law came over yesterday with hotdogs and buns for the grill. We both ate one hotdog on a bun and we both commented later on how crappy we felt afterward!

  16. i’ve read and seen so many great things, but i’d have to say Food, Inc may have impacted me most. i watched it again and again. of course it doesn’t tell you much about nutrition in general, but it was just so striking how far our food has come from where it started.

    “I’m always struck by how successful we have been at hitting the bull’s-eye of the wrong target. I mean we have learned–for example, how to plant, fertilize and harvest corn using global positioning satellite technology, and nobody sits back and asks “But should we be feeding cows corn?”We’ve become a culture of technicians. We’re all into–we’re all into the how of it and nobody’s stepping back and saying “But why?”

    I mean, a culture that just views a pig as a pile of protoplasmic inanimate structure to be manipulated by whatever creative design that humans can foist on that critter will probably view individuals within its community and other cultures in the community of nations with the same type of disdain, disrespect and controlling-type mentality.”– Farmer Salatin

  17. One of the best advices I ever got was to listen to your body when you are not feeling well.

  18. I found out about the GAPS diet and have been doing it for maybe 9 months on and off. It’s very difficult at times, but I’ve learned that the body is amazing and can heal given the right circumstances. I’m not doomed to continue down this road of declining health, I can do something about it!

  19. The best advice I’ve given is to give up grains and eat whole foods for a month.  It changed my life.  A friend of mine is in the middle of that 1 month trial right now, and although it has been a challenge to let go of old eating habits and conveniences, she told me that she feels phenomenal.  Her teenage daughter is doing it with her on a whim, and she is convinced that it has improved her acne in just a couple of weeks.

    Good health to you,
    Kate

  20. The best piece of advice I got when I became vegetarian was to start reading labels and eat organic whole foods. I still follow that advice but now have added meat to my diet for complete nutrition.

  21. The best advise I ever got: With
    numerous medical conditions I was spending a lot of time in various
    Dr.’s offices and taking medications by the handful. Just trying to deal
    with the side effects because I needed the medications. My primary
    suggested one more Dr. a naturalistic one. I started seeing the
    natural-path about eight months ago. From the time (she has my blood
    tested regularly) to the present. I am off of most of my medications. The one’s I am still on have been drastically reduced.
    Most of my medications are down to natural supplements. Even those
    capsules, I am reducing by trying to make my all my own food and drink. I
    have more time now, as I am not spending much time in doctor’s offices. I
    am a work in progress. But, I am working and feeling better. So the
    best advise I ever got, isn’t anything mysterious. It was something my 96
    year old grandmother did ( back then, that was her only choice). Stay
    with the natural and unprocessed.

  22. Have been drinking my first Kefir. I put in some pomegranate cherry juice. Yum! About 2 more weeks left on my first fermentation of Kombucha. Haven’t decided yet how I’m going to flavor that yet. Next I’ll try the Ginger Ale.

  23. Hi,

    I am very interested in getting some probiotics into my system to improve my digestive health. I was particularly interested in the ginger ale. But I am alarmed by the amount of sugar that goes into making the ginger bug. Wouldn’t it be healthier to eat a probiotic yoghurt or take a probiotic pill?

    Thanks in advance for your response.
    Sharan

    • Actually, the sugar gets mostly eaten by the bug! I’ve had my ginger bug for a three or four months now, and in that time I’ve given it quite a bit of sugar to “feed” it and keep it alive. If the sugar weren’t being eaten, the liquid would be intensely, sickeningly, sweet. However, I tasted it a couple of days ago and it’s sweet, but only mildly so.

      Yogurt is good, but I think only offers a certain set of micro-organisms. It think part of the point of trying out a number of different fermented foods is that you offer your gut a wide variety of probiotic beasties.

      I can’t really comment on supplementing with probiotics except to say that I’ve read that by the time they get shipped around and sit on store shelves, they’re often no longer viable, but that may not always be the case.

  24. just made up a big batch of fermented veggies and kraut today 🙂

  25. I am so glad you wrote this post as I need encouragement to try some fermented foods. I need this stuff; candida, leaky gut, CFS/Fibro, Adrenal Fatigue and more. However, I am sooo chicken because I HATE pickles. No, I am pickle phobic! And, I relate all this fermented stuff to pickles. And I am a little bit germphobic/paranoid when it comes to the fermenting concept. I sure don’t want to poison myself! I read about probiotic foods over and over and never try any but I feel a leap of faith coming soon.

    What would be the best recipe to start with?

    Thanks!

    • You can make the ferments milder. I like to add grated carrot and green onion in with the cabbage. Also, if you make kefir, you can puree it with berries to make a fruit smoothy.

  26. I recently tried making beet kvass and it turned out wonderfully. I love beets in their natural state, but it took a while to get used to the taste of the kvass. After a while, I really started to enjoy it! That homemade ginger ale looks great! I’ve never seen anything like that.

  27. Hi! Really enjoying your information. It’s been so helpful. My delima is I have a mold food allergy. I was eating/drinking homade kefir and homade kambacho tea. Long story short, bloating and terrible body pain. Is kefir something I could still do? I would like to incorporate edible forms of probiotics Any help would be appreciated!

  28. hi katie!
    how do you consume sauerkraut?

      • If you haven’t been eating fermented foods, you may want to start with only a tablespoon and work your way up. Coming off a conventional diet, I made homemade sauerkraut and loved the taste. I got really bad stomach aches from it. I had to back off and build up to a larger amount more slowly. Just wouldn’t want someone to think they can’t eat fermented foods because they start with too much, like myself. 🙂

    • Kraut is great on salads, sandwiches, pork chops, whatever. I also use the tangy kraut juice to add to salad dressings. Avocados kinda dissolve in the juice and kraut juice and avocado makes a great dressing.

  29. Thank you so much for this…am getting ready to teach a class on fermentation and you make it so clear.

  30. I have a 3 year old with cerebral palsy and other special needs, and I’m always trying to get more probiotics into him because he spent the first nine weeks of his life in the nicu and was given several courses of antibiotics and because my milk production was low he was given commercial formulas in addition to breastmilk. I’m so thankful for the nurses, surgeons, and doctors that saved his life, as he wouldn’t be here today without their intervention. Anyway, he has very strong preferences and routines, and getting him to drink kefir water or kombucha is very hard. Occasionally I can get my homemade villi yogurt into him, but it’s rare. I’ve tried doing the natren probiotics recommended by Sally Fallon, but it’s a battle to get him to take them and he has a hyper gag reflex and will often vomit while trying to do this. I’m going to try the gelatin gummies again, and see if that works. He wouldn’t go near them in the past. And it’s not that he’s a sugar addict, he actually doesn’t love sweets outside of berries and (unfortunately) commercially available fruit snacks. He just has strong preferences (certain brands or flavors of things) and a super strong will. So I guess I’m looking for some additional suggestions to get probiotics into this guy. Anyone try other things besides the above? I am half korean, so kimchi was always a staple in my home and still is along with other fermented vegetables korean style, but he won’t eat anything spicy. He throws up at the slightest hint of spice. Just thought I should throw that out there. Thanks!

  31. I am curious as to why everyone is recommending water kefir instead of milk kefir. I have been drinking milk kefir for years and just lately it seems like everyone is switching to water kefir. What is the reasoning besides trying to avoid milk products if you are sensitive?

    • A lot of my readers are dairy sensitive and water kefir is an easier adjustment for kids but milk kefir is great too 🙂

  32. I know this post was primarily about foods that naturally contain probiotics, but I was curious about taking a probiotic suppliment while pregnant. I know you recommend BioKult and I was looking into that, but I am 30weeks pregnant and haven’t found much information about how to start without some of the nasty side effects I’ve read about some people having if they start them too fast. Also, I know that baby inherits my gut bacteria, but at 30wks is it too late for him to really reap the benefits?

  33. Hi! I’m currently researching re-mineralizing teeth and noticed you had a few articles on that subject. Do you know how fermented foods affect teeth as they heal? Thank you.

  34. Hi, 6 months before my beloved hubby dies he was bed ridden, and I nursed him from my wheel chair. Unfortunately I knew nothing about all these amazing natural products, which I am totally crazy about.
    My brother in-law (83) has just been diagnosed with liver and stomach cancer, and in 6 weeks has lost 13 kgs. I would like to make up a lotion bar that my sister can use on him to PREVENT bedsores. I cannot find menthol crystals anywhere here in South Africa, so was thinking of using coconut oil, beeswax, camphor or eucalyptus. shea butter/cocoa butter one has to be a millionaire to buy the stuff here!!
    Any suggestions please, urgently needed.
    Probably the wrong place to ask!
    Thanks so much in advance for all the help
    Lorraine

  35. HI again, I had better not use capital letters, for fear of being taken to task. Besides the fact it is really easier for us who over 70!
    Now I know why I asked on the page, is because I am making Kombucha for him and he is drinking it little bits at at time, as well as milk kefir, which he loves. lol at the ol’ lady its ok
    love L

  36. My sister received a yogurt starter that she has been constantly feeding. She uses whole milk (yes it is pasteurized) to feed it. She uses it to about a quarter left in a mason jar, fills it with milk, and then puts a coffee filter on it and lets it sit for about 6 to 8 hours. I was wondering if, even though it’s pasteurized, will I still get probiotics from it.

  37. I would like to start taking a probiotic supplement, any good brands you recommend? I know it’s best to get it from foods but would really like a supplement.

    Thanks

  38. Are probiotics useful for treatment of asthma, diabetes and cancer. If so suggest treatments reqd. I am using probiotics – kefir every night at dinner , saurkraut in the day or fermented vegetables, also kvass and ginger ale for relief from hyperacidity and ostoarthritis and cervicle spondalysis. How much should i consume and when it is best to do so. Please advise . I am also a vegetarian and consume only egg, but not frquently. I also consume one glass of fresh home made vegetable juice in the morning , beetroot and carrot huice with gooseberry in the afternoon and grapefruit juice every evening.

  39. i consume 1 glass fresh beetroot and carrot juice after meals with 1-1 1/2 hors gap . Is this advisable ., Is there a chance that the meals taken previously will delay its absorption and instead of benefiting the body it forms sludge and harms the body.

  40. Hi Katie,
    We used to buy really high quality probiotics but since we have started seeing a chiro he suggested no probiotics in pill forms. So this is a great way to get the beneficial probiotics. Could you please, please, please tell me which recipes are your kids favorite? I know you mentioned the soda was one but any of the other 4? Thank you

    • Water Kefir and Sauerkraut are also favorites that are very high in probiotics and easy to make.

  41. Having probiotics in your food is very helpful and essential for your health. There are a lot of benefits that you can get if we add probiotics to our daily diet.

  42. My three year old has been constipated since she started solids. I introduced water kefir about four months ago to see if this will help and I can give her less laxatives. The water kefir helps but it gives her vaginal thrush. How can I introduce probiotics without it causing thrush?