The more we learn about gut health and its connection to our general wellness, the more we look for new and better ways to support our gut flora. Perhaps you’ve read about the role played by probiotics. While nutritional supplements are a proven source for introducing probiotics into our bodies, there are plenty of everyday foods and drinks that can do the same, leading some health-conscious individuals to ask, “Which has more probiotics: yogurt or kombucha?”
To answer the question, this article will explain what probiotics are; list food options that are ideal sources for adding good-for-you, live microorganisms into your digestive system; explore the world of fermented and probiotic products like kombucha; and reveal why probiotic levels vary in different foods.
Let’s dig in!
Scientific studies have long linked the gut to everything from IBS to mental health, leading researchers to often refer to it as our “second brain”. While there is still much to learn about the internal workings of our bodies, we know enough to confidently say good gut health is critical to living our healthiest, best lives.
The good bacteria — or “flora” — that live in our gut play an instrumental role in regulating our digestive health. Fortunately, there are easy ways for us to support healthy gut flora, like adding pre- and probiotics to our diet.
For fans of dairy and fermented foods, there are many tasty options to choose from, like yogurt and kombucha. To determine what has more probiotics, yogurt or kombucha, it’s important to understand what probiotics actually are in the first place.
Probiotics is a blanket term for the mixture of live microorganisms — think bacteria and yeasts — that live in our bodies. Taken together, these microbes swirling around in our system form what is known as the “microbiome.” When our microbiome is in balance, we are healthier and have better digestion.
One of the best ways to ensure our microbiome stays in tip-top shape is to introduce healthy bacteria into our systems. And one of the best ways to inject healthy bacteria is, you guessed it, through probiotics. It’s a neat little circle.
So, while probiotics already live inside us, we can add more from external sources.
There are many ways to introduce probiotics into your lifestyle and diet. One option is to reach for probiotic-infused supplements. This is a reasonable choice for picky eaters or those who maybe don’t take the time to eat healthily or regularly.
There are also many familiar foods that contain naturally occurring probiotics. A few favorites are:
As you can see, there are many food products out there that contain probiotics. Some of these might look a little exotic, but some you probably already have in your fridge. Between the beverages and foods on this list, it’s easy to add probiotics to your diet every day.
Now, we’ve already told you that fermented foods contain probiotics, as evidenced by the list above. If this makes you wonder if all of your fermented favorites are reliable sources of probiotic goodness, you’re not alone.
The short answer to that question is, unfortunately, no.
In many cases, foods that would contain probiotics because of the fermentation process are treated with heat, usually in a process known as pasteurization. While pasteurization helps to make some foods safer to eat, a side effect is that the process kills off good bacteria that could be beneficial to our bodies.
It’s only products that are not treated with heat or chemicals — like raw kombucha — that have the live bacteria that we know as probiotics.
So, if you want the best probiotic food sources, look for products that are labeled raw or live culture. Although pasteurized fermented foods may be a tasty part of a varied diet, they might not contain any significant number of probiotics at all.
Because some fermented foods contain probiotics and because probiotics can contribute to improved gut health, it can be reasoned that consuming the right fermented foods can have health benefits.
We’re still studying and exploring all the benefits of probiotic foods, but we do know that these live microorganisms are crucial for good digestion — And maybe much more.
According to Dr. David S. Ludwig, a professor of nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, recent research has shown that diverse and healthy gut flora plays a role in improving one’s immune system and warding off inflammation. "It's a very exciting, dynamic area of research," says Dr. Ludwig.
It’s hard to believe that something we can’t even see can have such a profound and far-reaching effect on our bodies; however, that’s exactly the case with the microorganisms in our gut. It’s no wonder that we’re more and more interested to learn what we can do to increase our probiotic intake.
In addition to probiotic levels being impacted by pasteurization, many other factors could directly affect the number of probiotics in a product. This includes:
So, where does that leave us? Which has more probiotics: yogurt or kombucha?
It turns out the answer is not that simple nor is it straightforward because it depends on how the product is made, what it’s made from, and how it’s stored after it’s produced.
However, the good news is there’s no need to choose! The important factor with both is that you look for products that are as natural and unprocessed as possible.
Raw kombucha is packed with probiotics and is a downright tasty drink. It’s easy to add to your daily routine, whether you use it as the liquid in your morning smoothie or consume it as a stand-alone beverage with lunch or dinner. There are tons of flavors on the market that are sure to meet anyone’s palette. Plus, kombucha can contain additional nutrients thanks to the inclusion of fruits and veggies found in some flavors.
At Brew Dr., every batch of kombucha is crafted from high-quality, loose leaf organic teas, botanicals, fruits, and juices. Our tea-first approach results in a beverage that’s raw, real, and refreshing — ensuring you get the good stuff in every sip. And as a certified B Corp, we make it our mission to take thoughtful care of our people, our communities, and our planet.