Probiotics: The Gut Bacteria with Several Health Benefits

Parul Dube

October 12, 2022

Probiotics are microorganisms that have excellent health benefits when consumed adequately. You can eat them or apply them to the body. Microorganisms are usually considered germs that are harmful to the body. But these bacteria produce specific proteins and by-products which help to improve the digestive and overall health. Fermented foods like yoghurt, curd, tempeh etc., contain probiotics. You can consume them as a supplement through nutrition gummies, drinks, tablets etc. In addition, you can find probiotics in cosmetics as well.

Some bacteria help to digest food, destroy disease-causing cells, or produce vitamins. Many microorganisms in probiotic products are the same as or similar to microorganisms that naturally live in our bodies.

Different Types of Bacteria

Several microorganisms are beneficial for the body and come under the probiotic category. The most common type of bacteria is Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.

These bacteria groups are available in most everyday foods like soy products, cheese, yoghurt, and other dairy products. Each group of bacteria has many different varieties, and each array prevents a specific type of disorder or illness.

How Do Probiotics Work?

Probiotics are the bacterial colonies that live inside your gut. They help the digestive system work more effectively. They prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and maintain a healthy balance of microorganisms.

Different types of probiotics work differently with the body’s environment. Probiotics can work by:

  • Helping your body maintain a microorganism-friendly environment makes it easier for the bacteria colonies to work better inside your gut.
  • By producing proteins and by-products which have sound effects on the body
  • Boost your body’s immune system.
  • It can help regulate hormone levels.

Are All Foods Rich in Probiotics?

Probiotics: The Gut Bacteria with Several Health Benefits- HealthifyMe

All naturally grown foods, fermented foods and drinks are full of probiotics. However, the amount of bacteria present varies for every food. Certain foods are naturally highly rich in probiotics and microorganism levels.

Some foods that are jam-packed with probiotics:

1. Yoghurt

Yoghurt is one of the most popular foods for receiving natural probiotics. It is rich in Lactobacillus bacteria, which helps maintain a healthy balance in your gut. In addition, it is a fermented product that makes it a good source of microorganisms. It is also rich in protein, calcium, vitamin B12 and potassium.

Lactobacillus plays an essential role in digesting various dairy products and produces Vitamin K. vitamin K helps in blood clotting.

Nutrition Value of Yoghurt

For 100g of yoghurt:

  • Calories: 61kCal
  • Protein: 3.1 g
  • Carbohydrates: 3g
  • Fats: 3 g

2. Tempeh

Tempeh is a fermented form of soybean, similar to tofu. It is packed with probiotic goodness. It has a cake-like texture, and you can eat it raw or by boiling it and can be substituted for meat.

Tempeh is rich in vitamin B12 and protein. It is one food product with nine essential amino acids and a complete protein source. Also, the fermentation process of tempeh improves its nutrition value by adding nutrients. It is easier to digest, and has zero cholesterol.

A study shows that consuming tempeh can help you improve your cholesterol levels. It reduces Low-Density Lipoproteins (LDL), which is often responsible for increased cholesterol. Increased cholesterol levels can increase the chances of developing coronary diseases and heart attacks.

3. Raw Cheese

Cheese made out of goat’s milk, sheep’s milk and cow’s milk are exceptionally high in probiotics. Some good bacteria found in raw cheese are L. Bulgaricus, Thermophilus and Acidophilus. While buying cheese for the probiotic benefits, always ensure that the cheese is unpasteurised and not heavily processed. It can kill many of those probiotic benefits.

L. Bulgaricus is very beneficial for the gut. It is found in the digestive tract and can help fight many gut-related diseases. For example, one of the studies showed that probiotics containing this particular bacterium could help manage the symptoms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).

Nutrition Value of Raw Cheese

For 100g of raw cheese:

  • Calories: 403kCal
  • Fat: 33g
  • Cholesterol: 99mg
  • Sodium: 653mg
  • Carbohydrate: 3.4g
  • Protein: 23g
  • Potassium: 76mg

4. Buttermilk

Traditional buttermilk is also a fermented drink made from the liquid content of churned butter or from diluting and churning curd. It is trendy in Asian countries and a good source of probiotics. It is also easier to digest than some other dairy products.

The lactic acid content and the probiotics present in buttermilk makes it a fantastic food for the digestive tract. It is also a rich source of protein which acts as the building block for your muscles, skin and bones.

Buttermilk is full of sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium. These are essential nutrients for the body, required for its healthy functioning.  

Nutrition Value of Buttermilk

For 1 glass or 250 ml of buttermilk:

  • Calories – 45
  • Protein – 2.3 g
  • Carbohydrates – 2.3 g
  • Fats – 3 g

5. Kefir

Kefir is a dairy product made after fermentation by adding bacteria and yeast cultures to milk. This bacterium feeds on the natural milk sugars and creates the fermented drink. It has a similar flavour to drinkable yoghurt.

This drink is also gluten-free, making it a healthy choice for people who cannot handle gluten. It also has lower amounts of lactose due to fermentation. Therefore, people who have mild lactose intolerance can also consume this drink.

Kefir contains healthy gut bacteria, which help to improve digestive health by enhancing the number of good bacteria. Research also found that it can be particularly helpful in killing harmful pathogens that can cause infections. Thus, preventing gastroenteritis or vaginal infections. 

Nutrition Value of Kefir

  • For 100 ml of Kefir-
  • Calories – 61
  • Proteins – 3.4 g
  • Carbohydrates – 4 g
  • Fats – 3.4 g
  • Fibre – 0 g

6. Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut is finely cut cabbage fermented by using various lactic acid bacteria. It contains high amounts of vitamin C, Vitamin K1, and sodium, which are essential nutrients. Vitamin C helps to boost the immune system and increase resilience against the common cold. At the same time, vitamin K1 plays a vital role in blood clotting. 

Due to the fermentation process, it is rich in probiotics which help to make the food more digestible and increase the gut’s ability to absorb various minerals and vitamins.

Nutrition Value of Sauerkraut

For 100g of Sauerkraut:

  • Calories: 24kCal
  • Sodium: 616mg
  • Carbohydrates: 4.16g
  • Fibre: 2.5g
  • Protein: 0.6g

8 Amazing Health Benefits Of Probiotics

1. Healthy Gut Environment

Probiotics help to add good bacteria to your digestive tract. These gut bacteria have many health benefits. They create a balance between pathogens and good bacteria, which helps to fight many illnesses and prevent infections, inflammations and disorders related to the gut.

According to research, probiotics extracted from dairy-based fermentation are considered medical nutrition therapy.

2. Help to Prevent Diarrhoea

These good bacteria can reduce the severity of diarrhoea and even prevent it. Unfortunately, diarrhoea is a common side effect of taking solid antibiotics as it can affect the balance of the good and bad bacteria in the intestine.

According to a study, probiotics have shown promising results in preventing pediatric antibiotic-associated diarrhoea. In addition, strains such as L. Rhamnosus, L. cases, found in dairy products like yoghurt and milk, are highly beneficial in reducing the risk of diarrhoea.

3. Improves Mental Health

Various studies have linked good mental health to the abundance of good bacteria in the system. Therefore, taking probiotic supplements can help to improve mental health conditions. Certain probiotic Bifidobacterium bacteria affect the central nervous system, which positively affects mood and mental health.

4. Certain Strains Can Keep Your Heart Healthy

Some strains of these good bacteria can help manage your cholesterol and lower your Low-Density Lipoproteins (LDL). Having high LDLs increases the risk of clogged arteries and heart attacks. 

According to a study, certain lactic acid-producing bacteria help break down bile in the gut, which helps indigestion. But these effects are only seen when you take sufficient amounts of probiotics for a prolonged period.

5. May Reduce Allergies

Probiotics can help to reduce some allergy symptoms and eczema in children. For example, a study suggests that children who consumed probiotic supplemented milk had an improvement in their eczema condition compared to those who didn’t.

Some probiotics can also help to reduce inflammatory symptoms in certain allergy conditions.

6. Boost Immune System

According to a study, probiotics can help boost your immune system by decreasing the number of harmful bacteria and pathogens in your system. In addition, some probiotics also produce natural antibodies. These bacteria also help to increase the functioning of the white blood cells, which are responsible for the immune response.

Some probiotic strains lower the severity of respiratory infections and help to calm down the symptoms.

7. May Help to Lose Fat

According to research, probiotics work in several ways to help you lose weight. For example, they restrict the absorption of excess dietary fat in the intestine. As a result, they reduce the unnecessary accumulation of fat in the body. 

Probiotics help improve the digestion of foods and thus aid in better absorption of nutrients. This helps improve metabolism and aids in better fat loss.

Probiotics also regulate certain hormones in the body, which can help you burn calories and not store fat.

8. Improves Food Absorption

The food you eat gets mixed with all the digestive juices, enzymes, acids in your stomach. That helps to break it down into smaller molecules. These smaller molecules are easy to digest. Probiotics work on these small molecules, and further break them down into nutrients you need for healthy body functioning. These nutrients are readily absorbable by the body to get all the benefits.

Can Probiotics Be Harmful?

Probiotics are safe to consume. They are essential for a healthy digestive system and prevent many other illnesses. However, they can cause harmful effects in people who have severely compromised immune systems.

Some possible side effects of probiotics are:

  • Infections 
  • Antibiotic resistance transfer to other gut bacteria 
  • Production of harmful by-products

Therefore, it is also essential to consult a professional before adding probiotics to your diet if you suffer from severe health issues related to the immune system.


Probiotics are a good source of good bacteria that live in your gut and provide a healthy environment for other microorganisms, enzymes, hormones and acids to work. They create a healthy balance between good and bad bacteria in the body, promoting a healthy body.

Probiotics help reduce gastric disorders and other stomach related issues. They even help to reduce many allergy symptoms and help in better nutrient absorption. However, you should consume them in moderation to reap maximum benefits.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. Is honey a probiotic?

A. Yes, raw organic honey is probiotic and a prebiotic. Honey is a stable natural food having many beneficial effects on health and has prebiotic oligosaccharides that enhance the viability of probiotic lactic acid bacteria. Hence, it could be used as an exceptional food matrix for making honey-based synbiotic formulations. In addition, it has many other minerals, nutrients, and anti-inflammatory properties, making it an all-rounder.

Q. What are the signs you need probiotics?

A. Your body shows several signs when you need probiotics. For example, you may have allergies or suffer from one or more disorders. Furthermore, you may require probiotics if you have food poisoning or taking antibiotics.

Q. Is green tea a probiotic?

A. No, there is very little research on the probiotic effects of green tea. Although it is a fantastic diet supplement, it has more prebiotic benefits than probiotics.

Q. How can I increase my probiotics naturally?

A. You can incorporate foods like acidophilus milk, pickled vegetables, Kefir and yoghurt into your diet. These foods are naturally very high in probiotic content. In addition, many other fermented dairy products can help you cover your probiotic needs.

Q. What herbs have probiotics?

A. There are several herbs with probiotics. These include cinnamon, ginseng, and liquorice. They contain good bacteria which support your immune system. 

Q. Is avocado a probiotic?

A. Avocado is prebiotic. It is a superfood as it has 20 vitamins, minerals, and 30-40% of prebiotic fibre, which is very healthy for the body.

Q. Is apple cider vinegar a probiotic?

A. Apple cider vinegar is a fermented product containing some microorganisms and bacteria. However, they may not survive inside the gut. Therefore, there are conflicting views on its probiotic properties.

Q. Is a potato a probiotic?

A. Raw potatoes are rich in prebiotic fibres, suitable for a healthy gut. 

Q. Is oatmeal a probiotic?

A. No, oatmeal is not a probiotic. However, many experts consider it a probiotic because it has prebiotic fibre, which helps increase the number of good gut bacteria and increases certain enzymes, decreasing the chances of contracting UTIs.

Q. Are onions a good probiotic?

A. No, onions are a good nutrient source as they contain prebiotic fibre, antioxidants and flavonoids. These compounds may decrease cancer risk and improve the bacterial colonies’ environment.

Q. Are blueberries a prebiotic?

A. Wild blueberries have some prebiotic properties. They have natural plant fibres that promote the growth of good bacteria for a healthy gut.

Q. Is lemon a probiotic?

A. No, lemon is not a probiotic. However, it contains many natural vitamins and minerals that help boost the immune system.

Q. Is a sweet potato a probiotic?

A. Raw sweet potatoes contain some amounts of prebiotic fibres. They can have up to 10-12g of prebiotic fibre per serving of a large-sized sweet potato. However, when cooked, these values may be decreased.

Q. What are the three health benefits of probiotics?

A. Probiotics can help you maintain a healthy gut, keeping gestational issues at bay. They can also help boost your immune system. In addition, they help keep your LDL levels in check, thus, keeping your heart healthy.

Q. Is yoghurt a probiotic?

A. Yes, yoghurt is a natural probiotic. The process of yoghurt preparation includes fermentation, which adds these good bacteria to the food. These bacteria are very beneficial for a healthy gut.

Q. Is garlic a probiotic?

A. No, garlic is not a probiotic. But it can help facilitate the functioning of the good bacteria and other probiotics in the system. You can pair it with other probiotics to improve their efficiency.

Q. Is milk a probiotic?

A. Drinking milk that has been fermented is a great way to get more probiotics in your diet and helps to maintain a healthy balance between harmful bacteria and good bacteria.

Q. Which probiotics are best for weight loss?

A. L. acidophilus is a strain of bacteria that helps lose weight. You can get it from fermented milk and other dairy products with added supplements. Therefore, it can have some weight management effects. However, moderate consumption will benefit your health.

Q. Do probiotics slim your stomach?

A. Some probiotic bacteria strains can help better break down food. Further, they prevent the absorption of dietary fats, which can show a slimming effect.

Q. When should I take probiotics for weight loss?

A. Probiotics work better on an empty stomach. Therefore, it is recommended that you take probiotics before a meal to help better digestion and absorption.

Q. Which probiotics cause weight gain?

A. The administration of Lactobacillus acidophilus causes weight gain. Other probiotics responsible for weight gain are Lactobacillus fermentum and Lactobacillus Ingluviei.

About the Author

Parul holds a Masters of Medical Science in Public Health Nutrition from the University of Glasgow, Scotland, and has worked across the globe from the U.K to New Zealand (NZ) gaining her License with the Health Professionals Council (HPC, UK) and the NZ Nutrition Council. From being a Gold medalist in Clinical Nutrition to being awarded an internship with World Health Organisation (WHO, Cairo, Egypt) and Contracts with CDC Parul has had a wide spectrum of work experiences. She is very passionate about Nutrition and Fitness and holds strong to her guiding mantras ‘ Move more’ and ‘Eat Food that your grandmother can recognize’!

Related Articles


Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your health is our priority. Talk to one of our experts and get the best plan for you today.
Chat With Us