Wondering what foods with probiotics and prebiotics you should add to your diet to optimize your health? This guide will give you an easy plan to follow, recipe ideas, and a checklist of foods with probiotics and prebiotics to include in your diet regularly.

The best foods with probiotics and prebiotics to boost your health!

No doubt many of you know that probiotics and prebiotics are hot topics right now, helping promote digestive health and overall health.

But do you know the difference between foods with probiotics and prebiotics? What health benefits may they provide? And, most importantly, what foods with probiotics and prebiotics should you eat to improve your health?

I’m here to give you the scoop on the health benefits of probiotics and prebiotics,  the best foods with probiotics and prebiotics to include in your diet, and some of my favorite probiotic and prebiotic-packed recipes to try!

Prebiotics vs. Probiotics

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition of a probiotic is: “A microorganism (such as lactobacillus) that when consumed (as in a food or a dietary supplement) maintains or restores beneficial bacteria to the digestive tract; also: a product or preparation that contains such microorganisms.”

By comparison, the definition of a prebiotic is: “A substance and especially a carbohydrate (such as inulin) that is nearly or wholly indigestible and that when consumed (as in food) promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract.”

In other words, probiotics are “helpful” bacteria that keep your digestive tract happy and healthy, while prebiotics are “food” for these beneficial probiotics.

What are the health benefits of foods with probiotics and prebiotics?

While we have a pretty good understanding of what the best foods with probiotics and prebiotics are, there is still a lot of ongoing research regarding the health benefits of these foods and how to put it all into practice. Here’s some of the emerging research…

Health Benefits of Probiotics

Probiotics & Digestive Health

Probiotics and digestive health have been studied extensively, with the strongest beneficial evidence for antibiotic-associated diarrhea.

There’s also research showing benefits for IBS {irritable bowel syndrome}, IBD {inflammatory bowel disease}, and H Pylori {Helicobacter pylori}, an infectious organism that can lead to ulcers and stomach cancer.

Other Health Benefits of Probiotics

Researchers are also studying the potential health benefits of prebiotics on the following:

  1. Weight Loss – Preliminary studies have been done in animals and humans, with some strains of probiotics being shown to help with weight loss. More research is needed, but this is definitely an area to pay attention to.
  2. Mental Health & Mood – This is such a fascinating area of research for me! There is emerging evidence that probiotics {and prebiotics} can function as psychobiotics to boost mood, decrease anxiety, and ease depression via the gut-brain axis.
  3. Cardiovascular Health – Both total and LDL blood cholesterol levels may be lowered with certain probiotic strains. In addition, some probiotics may help reduce blood pressure.
  4. Immune Health – Probiotics may help boost immune function. Studies have suggested that certain probiotic strains can reduce the duration of acute respiratory infections in otherwise healthy adults and children.
  5. Skin Health – More research needs to be done, but probiotics {and prebiotics} may help reduce atopic dermatitis in infants. In addition, probiotics and prebiotics may play a role in treating acne and other skin conditions.
  6. Inflammation – A recent meta-analysis of 20 studies suggests probiotic administration may significantly reduce serum C-reactive protein, a measure of inflammation in the body.

Health Benefits of Prebiotics

It should be noted that, to date, there has been considerable research on the health benefits of fiber but not as much on health outcomes for prebiotics. Preliminary research suggests that prebiotics may enhance health by:

  • Protecting against colon cancer
  • Reducing inflammation & symptoms of IBS
  • Shortening the duration of diarrhea from infections and antibiotic use
  • Helping prevent obesity by promoting satiety and weight loss
  • Lowering the risk of cardiovascular & metabolic disease
  • And more potential benefits, including mental health & skin health, as noted earlier.

Now that you have a better understanding of the potential health benefits of prebiotics and probiotics, let’s dive into the good stuff & learn what the best foods with probiotics and prebiotics are to optimize your health!

The Best Foods with Probiotics and Prebiotics

Note: If you are following a low FODMAP diet for IBS or SIBO, you will notice that many foods with probiotics and prebiotics are high FODMAP foods.

Low FODMAP {LF} options you can eat during the elimination phase of the diet are noted in the lists below. During the reintroduction and integration phases, I recommend you SLOWLY try adding some of the higher FODMAP probiotic and prebiotic-rich foods to tolerance to help support overall long-term health.

If you need support in this area, please get in touch with me. I’d love to help!

The Best Foods with Probiotics

Note: GF = Gluten Free, Veg = Vegetarian, V = Vegan, LF = Low FODMAP

Dairy & Non-Dairy Alternative-Based Foods with Probiotics

  1. Dairy Yogurt | GF, Veg, LF {Choose lactose free}
  2. Non-Dairy Yogurt | GF, V, LF {Some brands are ok-read labels}
  3. Kefir | GF, Veg, LF {Some brands are ok-read labels}
  4. Buttermilk | GF, Veg
  5. Aged Cheese | GF, Veg, LF

Vegetable-Based Foods with Probiotics

  1. Sauerkraut | GF, V
  2. Kimchi | GF, V

Soy-based foods with probiotics

  1. Miso | GF {check labels}, V, LF
  2. Tempeh | GF {check label}, V, LF
  3. Natto | GF, V

Beverages with probiotics

  1. Kombucha | GF, V, LF {180 mL is low FODMAP per Monash}
  2. Kefir Water/Soda | GF, V

Here are a few of my favorite gluten-free probiotic and fermented foods recipes to try…

Spiced Pomegranate Lemon Lassi
  1. Spiced Pomegranate Lemon Lassi This is one of my all-time favorite smoothies! It’s made with probiotic-rich Greek yogurt, pomegranate arils, fresh lemon juice, & antioxidant-rich spices. It may sound like an unusual combination, but seriously, you must try it!
  2. Quinoa Salad with Miso & Broccoli This is a flavorful and easy salad to make with probiotic-friendly miso & other good stuff. It’s also low FODMAP too!
  3. Ruby Red Grapefruit Kefir Sherbet Got grapefruit? And, kefir? Whip up a batch of this refreshing, probiotic-rich frozen treat!
  4. Savory Yogurt Parfait with Spicy Roasted Chickpeas Roasted chickpeas with a kick pair together deliciously with Greek yogurt and veggies in this Savory Yogurt Parfait with Spicy Roasted Chickpeas. Packed with protein & fiber, it’s perfect for a takeaway lunch, a healthy snack, or even a savory breakfast idea!
  5. Rich and Creamy Blueberry Lassi This easy, creamy lassi recipe is packed with MIND diet-friendly blueberries and/or brain health, plus probiotic-rich Greek yogurt and a hint of cardamom.

Want to learn more about fermented foods? Read my post, Fermented Foods 101. What to Eat for Gut Health & Immunity. And, check out my Fermented Foods Cookbook: 40 Recipe for Gut Health & Immunity!

Prebiotic Foods List | The Best Foods with Prebiotics

Note: This list is not all-inclusive but provides lots of good options for prebiotic foods to include in your diet regularly.

Vegetables & Fruit

  1. Apples | GF, V
  2. Asparagus | GF, V
  3. Green Bananas & Green Banana Flour | GF, V, Unpripe=LF
  4. Chicory Root| GF, V
  5. Dandelion Greens | GF, V
  6. Garlic | GF, V
  7. Jerusalem Artichoke | GF, V
  8. Kiwifruit | GF, V, LF
  9. Leeks| GF, V, LF {Green part only}
  10. Onions | GF, V

Grains & Legumes

  1. Barley | V
  2. Buckwheat Groats & Kernals | GF, V, LF
  3. Oats {Certified Gluten Free if Needed} | GF, V, LF
  4. Wheat Bran | V

Nuts, Seeds, & Beans

  1. Almonds | V, GF, LF {10 almonds}
  2. Soybeans | V, GF, LF {Frozen shelled edamame}
  3. Flaxseed | V, GF, LF
  4. Lentils | V, GF, LF {1/2 cup canned/rinsed/drained}

It should be noted that, to date, all known prebiotic foods are fiber-containing carbohydrate compounds, yet not all fiber is prebiotic. Still, a high-fiber diet overall has numerous health benefits, so the bottom line is unless you have a medical condition requiring you to be on a low-fiber diet, EAT MORE FIBER RICH FOODS!

Here are a few of my favorite gluten-free prebiotic recipes to try…

Happy Belly Brownie Bites! You'd never guess that these luscious, super chocolaty Brownie Bites are made with organic green banana flour, a resistant starch that helps promote a happy, healthy gut microbiome! | This no-bake recipe takes less than 5 minutes to make and is vegan, gluten free, and grain free
  1. Happy Belly Green Banana Flour Brownie Bites {pictured above-GF, Vegan, LF}. You’d never guess that these luscious, super chocolaty brownie bites are made with belly-friendly green banana flour, which helps promote a healthy, happy gut microbiome and other resistant starch foods.
  2. Chocolate Overnight Oats with Chia Seeds & Warm Strawberry Vanilla Compote {GF, Vegan, LF}. These Chocolate Overnight Oats with Chia Seeds & Warm Strawberry Vanilla Compote are the ultimate healthy “dessert for breakfast” treat and are super easy to make!
  3. Potato Leek Soup w/ Spring Pea Shoots {GF, Vegan}. I’ve loved potato leek soup since I was a little girl, & this vegan version I created has become a family favorite that’s super easy to make!
  4. Protein Packed Salmon Power Bowl with Sungold Kiwifruit Ponzu Sauce {GF, LF}. Treat yourself to this protein-packed Salmon Power Bowl {gluten-free, low FODMAP} topped with citrusy, sweet, and sour SunGold Kiwifruit Ponzu Sauce and fresh cilantro. Perfect for a healthy and delicious 1-bowl, lunch, or dinner.

BONUS! Instantly download this Free Checklist of Probiotic and Prebiotic Rich Foods!

Let’s Chat!

  1. Do you have any questions about foods with probiotics and prebiotics that I didn’t answer in this post?
  2. Did you learn any new information about probiotic and prebiotic-rich foods today?
  3. Which of these foods with probiotics and prebiotics do you eat regularly? Any new ones you’re going to try?