7 Probiotic-Rich Foods for Women

Earlier most probiotic research focused on their role in digestive health and immunity but newer research indicates that probiotics can have additional benefits, especially for women. Some probiotics can help restore and maintain vaginal microflora which would reduce the risk of vaginal infections while others may help to reduce menopause symptoms. Preliminary research also shows that specific probiotic strains can lower stress levels, aid weight loss for those who are overweight, and decrease wrinkles.

  1. Yogurt

Yogurt is one of the most well-known probiotic-rich foods. Not all yogurt contains live probiotics because sometimes processing can kill them which is why you should look for varieties labeled with “live and active cultures”. Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are the most common probiotics in yogurt so if, for some reason, you are unable to include yogurt in your daily diet, you can take a probiotic capsule that contains these bacteria. You can also compare probiotic supplements for women to see which one is best suited to your needs.

  1. Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut is a fermented cabbage dish that is rich in probiotics – it can be used as a condiment or side dish. It has a tangy, sour taste with a crisp texture which makes it ideal for sandwiches or wraps, especially if it is paired with deli meats like pastrami or corned beef. When shopping for sauerkraut, avoid the canned varieties as the processing method which increases their shelf-life often kills the probiotics. Instead, pick up the varieties that are available in the refrigerated section.

  1. Kefir

kefir-probioticsKefir is similar to yogurt as both of them are daily products that are made by fermenting milk with healthy bacteria. However, the taste and consistency of kefir is different from yogurt – while yogurt is mildly acidic and thick, kefir is very acidic and has a runnier texture. Typically, kefir contains a broader range and higher count of probiotic strains compared to yogurt. It also contains less lactose than yogurt, making it easier to digest for people who are lactose intolerant.

  1. Tempeh

Tempeh is a fermented soybean product that is a good source of probiotics. Soybeans contain a plant compound called phytic acid that impairs the absorption of minerals. However, when soybeans are fermented to make tempeh, the fermentation process reduces the amount of phytic acid in the beans. The fermentation process also produces vitamin B12 which does not occur in soybeans and is most commonly found in animal products. Tempeh is also rich in protein which makes it a great meat substitute for vegetarian and vegan diets.

  1. Fermented Pickles

There are two types of pickles – those that are made with vinegar and those that are fermented. Pickles made with vinegar are more common but you can still find fermented pickles in stores – look for a label which states “Lacto Fermented”. Fermented pickles contain lactic acid so they still have a sour and tangy flavor. However, unlike its vinegar counterpart which is devoid of probiotics, studies show that fermented pickles are high in various strains of the bacillus species.

  1. Traditional Buttermilk

Traditional buttermilk is a fermented dairy product that is made by fermenting the liquid left over after churning butter from cream. During the fermentation process, lactose is converted into lactic acid by lactic acid bacteria which gives buttermilk its tangy flavor and helps preserve it. While the specific strains of bacteria in traditional buttermilk can vary, it typically contains Lactococcus lactis, Lactobacillus acidophilus, and Lactobacillus casei which are beneficial for gut health and can contribute to the overall microbial diversity of the gut microbiota.

  1. Kombucha

Kombucha is a fizzy, sour and mildly sweet fermented tea beverage that contains a variety of probiotic strains. Several factors play a role in the probiotic profile of a kombucha product including the tea base used, the bacteria starter culture and the duration of fermentation. Some products contain fifty or more different varieties of probiotics including Bifidobacteria, Lactobacillus, Acetobacter, and Saccharomyces yeasts. The probiotics and antioxidants in kombucha help boost the immune system, which is essential for women’s health, especially during times of hormonal changes. Kombucha also contains glucosamine, which supports joint health and may be particularly beneficial for women, who are more prone to conditions like osteoarthritis.

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Last Updated on May 22, 2024 by Marie Benz MD FAAD