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News flash: Your microbiome is super important to your overall health (we’re talking digestive health, brain health, emotional health, cardiovascular health and other systems). One way to keep it happy? Adding probiotics to your diet. One type to consider? Probiotic drinks. There are three basic types of probiotic drinks: kombucha, kefir and drinks that are supplemented with probiotics. Read on for some of our favorites—plus why they're so important in the first place.

RELATED: Wait, What's the Difference Between Prebiotics and Probiotics?

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First of all, why is the gut microbiome so important?

Your gut microbiome is related to conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, colitis and acid reflux. “A lot of research going on right now is connecting gut health with autoimmune disease, neurodegenerative disorder, heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity,” explains Dr. Erika Angle, biochemist and CEO of gut microbiome test Ixcela. “The gut microbiome is such a hot area now because people are realizing it’s not just its own system. It’s actually linked to your brain health, emotional health, cardiovascular health and other systems, as well.”

And what can you do to create a healthier microbiome?

While there are some factors that influence your gut health that are out of your control (like genetics or having taken antibiotics as a child), there are plenty of things you can do to change your gut microbiome. That’s because your gut is a competitive environment, which means that you can give an advantage to the good bacteria over the bad bacteria by feeding them a certain way. Factors that can help the good guys? A healthy and varied diet rich in nutrients, supplements (oh hey, probiotics) and exercise, Dr. Angle says. And in even better news, a recent study published in Science magazine found that tea, coffee and wine can also help improve the diversity of gut microbes.

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Best Overall: Siggi’s Non-Fat Probiotic Drinkable Yogurt (pack of 9)

Nutrition (per serving)
Calories: 110
Fat: 0 grams
Carbs: 20 grams
Fiber: 0 grams
Sugar: 17 grams
Protein: 8 grams

A Swedish staple, filmjölk is a drinkable yogurt with a soft, buttery flavor. (Filmjölk is to Scandinavians what kefir is to Eastern Europeans.) It's packed with live active cultures, providing one billion probiotics per serving. It also provides more than a third of your daily calcium needs and a good amount of protein. Enjoy it on its own, in smoothies or poured over granola or fruit.

Buy it ($18)

Best Dairy-Free: Califia Farms Mango Probiotic Drinkable Yogurt (Pack of 8)

Nutrition (per serving)
Calories: 150
Fat: 7 grams
Carbs: 20 grams
Fiber: 3 grams
Sugar: 16 grams
Protein: 3 grams

Califia Farms's cultured plant-based yogurts are made with real mango puree and batch-fermented almond, coconut and oat-based yogurt with a proprietary Califia Culture Blend. The result is a dairy-free yogurt that's filled with 10 billion live, thriving CFUs (colony-forming units), all packaged in an easy, grab-and-go bottle. If you're not a mango person, this drinkable yogurt also comes in strawberry, super berry and plain.

Buy it ($5)

Best Kombucha: GT’s Synergy Trilogy Organic Vegan Raw Kombucha

Nutrition (per serving)
Calories: 50
Fat: 0 grams
Carbs: 12 grams
Fiber: 0 grams
Sugar: 12 grams
Protein: 0 grams

As far as kombucha goes, GT's is kind of the O.G. The brand has tons of flavors, but we're partial to its Synergy Trilogy, which contains a bright blend of tart lemon, tangy raspberry and spicy ginger. There's a reason it's a constant best-seller.

Buy it ($3)

Best Sparkling: Kevita Sparkling Probiotic Drink Mojita Lime Mint Coconut

Nutrition (per serving)
Calories: 45
Fat: 0 grams
Carbs: 11 grams
Fiber: 0 grams
Sugar: 9 grams
Protein: 1 grams

Fermented with a proprietary water kefir culture, KeVita Sparkling Probiotic Drinks have billions of live probiotics. They're light and refreshing straight from the bottle or poured over ice. Flavor-wise, KeVita has 11 different options including the Mojita, which combines a cool burst of mint with twist of lime.

Buy it ($3)

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Best Kefir: Wallaby Organic Lowfat Plain Aussie Kefir

Nutrition (per serving)
Calories: 110
Fat: 3 grams
Carbs: 12 grams
Fiber: 0 grams
Sugar: 8 grams
Protein: 8 grams

When it comes to probiotics, yogurt is an obvious choice. But did you know that kefir, the tangy beverage made by fermenting milk with bacteria and yeast, is actually an even better source of probiotics than yogurt? “I recommend drinking sheep’s or goat’s milk kefir, as it is easier to digest than cow’s milk,” says Raphael Kellman, M.D., founder of Kellman Wellness Center. “It offers incredible support for your immune system.” Use it the same way you would its creamier cousin (we like ours poured over granola). Wallaby Organic's kefir is crafted in small batches with organic milk, which lends the cultured drink a creamy texture without too much tart.

Buy it ($3)

Best Shots: GoodBelly StraightShots (pack of 4)

Nutrition (per serving)
Calories: 30
Fat: 0 grams
Carbs: 6 grams
Fiber: 0 grams
Sugar: 3 grams
Protein: 1 grams

If you're not in the mood for a whole bottle of drinkable probiotics, allow us to introduce drinkable probiotic shots. StraightShots are simple, straightforward and slightly sweet—an ideal option for a quick probiotic fix with no sugar added and 20 billion probiotic cultures per serving.

Buy it ($4)

Best Water: karma blueberry lemonade Probiotic Water (Pack of 12)

Nutrition (per serving)
Calories: 20
Fat: 0 grams
Carbs: 6 grams
Fiber: 0 grams
Sugar: 5 grams
Protein: 0 grams

Here's how this probiotic-infused water works: All of the nutrients are stored in the cap until you release them, assuring optimal freshness and potency. Vegan, lactose- and gluten-free, Karma's probiotic water doesn't have to be refrigerated, since the probiotics are protected in the bottle's cap until you mix it all together.

$21 at Amazon

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8 probiotic foods to add to your diet

Sure, you can get your fill of probiotics through the above drinks (or supplements), but you can also incorporate the following probiotic foods into your daily life to improve your gut microbiome.

1. Dark Chocolate

So, you know that probiotics are great for your gut, but did you know that in order to reap the benefits, you actually need to feed good bacteria with prebiotics (i.e., non-digestible fiber that helps the good bacteria in your body thrive)? Luckily, chocolate contains both of these ingredients, plus high levels of antioxidants and nutrients. So you know, it’s basically medicine. (Just keep an eye on your overall sugar intake, OK?)

2. Some Types of Cheese

While not all cheeses are a good source of probiotics (sorry), some soft, fermented ones like cheddar, Swiss and Gouda are since they contain bacteria that can survive the journey through your gastrointestinal tract. To make sure you’re getting the right stuff, look out for “live and active cultures” on the label.

3. Sauerkraut

You know this pickled cabbage dish is the ultimate hot dog topping, but did you know that it’s also full of probiotics and equally delicious when piled onto a salad or sandwich? And one study published in World Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology found that it could also reduce cholesterol levels. Just make sure to double-check the label before buying—you want the raw, unpasteurized stuff (or hey, make your own).

4. Garlic

This fragrant allium is rich in prebiotics, types of dietary fiber that feed the friendly bacteria in your gut. (FYI: Alongside probiotics, prebiotics are an important part of maintaining a healthy gut microbiome.) Garlic also boasts antioxidant and antimicrobial effects, so grab the breath mints. Ina Garten’s chicken with 40 cloves of garlic for dinner, anyone?

5. Kimchi

This fermented Asian dish made with cabbage, radishes and scallions is loaded with gut-friendly bacteria. Researchers from Korea have also found evidence that this spicy, briny dish can help you stay slim. Try it mixed with brown rice or on its own as a tasty side.

6. Pickles

Great news for pickle lovers (guilty)—when these green spears are brined in salted water and fermented, they create beneficial bacteria. Just make sure to opt for the naturally fermented kind (i.e., ones where vinegar wasn’t used in the pickling process) to reap the probiotic benefits.

7. Sourdough Bread

The “sour” taste of our favorite avocado vessel comes from the fermentation process, during which yeast and good bacteria work their magic to break down the sugar and gluten in flour. This makes nutrients easier to digest and absorb. And while the baking process kills off the live cultures, sourdough bread is a great prebiotic, and there is evidence to suggest that even dead probiotic bacteria has some impressive anti-inflammatory health benefits.

8. Apples

A recent study published in Frontiers in Microbiology determined that apples contain 100 million bacteria, though most of that good stuff is found in the fruit’s core, stem and seeds. The study also found that organic apples have an advantage over conventionally grown ones when it comes to bacteria diversity. “Freshly harvested, organically managed apples harbor a significantly more diverse, more even and distinct bacterial community, compared to conventional ones,” said the study’s senior author, professor Gabriele Berg. Now if you’ll excuse us, we have some very important apple picking to do.

RELATED: We Asked 3 Nutritionists for Their Best Healthy Gut Tip…and They All Said the Same Thing

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