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Best Probiotics Drinks for Gut Health (and How to Make Your Own)
By Ethan Boldt
October 6, 2023
Probiotic drinks seem to be everywhere, with even probiotic sodas taking off in popularity. They’re popular because they not only can be good for you, they directly promote gut health, a topic that most of us care a lot about.
If you’re new to probiotic drinks — which include beverages like kombucha, kefir and kvass — you might be surprised to know how many options are now available … and you probably want to learn how to make your own. Read on.
As always, you should consult your healthcare professional prior to beginning any new dietary or lifestyle regimen, including dietary supplementation.
Probiotics, or “good bacteria” (microorganisms introduced into the body for their beneficial qualities) found in the digestive tract, are types of live bacteria and yeasts that are beneficial for the digestive system and healthy immune system, plus promote regular bowel function.
Here are the most common types of probiotic drinks:
Dairy probiotic drinks consist mainly of kefir or “drinkable yogurt.” Kefir differs from yogurt because it’s made with kefir grains and usually contains different strains of beneficial gut bacteria.
Tea and fruit-based probiotic drinks are usually called kombucha, and these are made with tea, sugar and yeast. Kombucha is a good probiotic drink option for those who are lactose intolerant or sensitive to dairy.
Fermented grain-based juices, such as kvass, which is a traditional Slavic and Baltic beer-like beverage that has a sour taste and is commonly made from fermented rye bread.
Fermented vegetable-based juices are made from the juice of green cabbage or red beets.
Cultured coconut drinks, also called coconut kefir, are made with coconut water and kefir grains.
Water kefir is a fermented beverage that is made by adding kefir grains to sugar water.
Probiotic-infused waters are typically flavored waters that have supplemental probiotic strains added to them. Depending on the brand, other beneficial ingredients like lemon juice, ginger, cayenne pepper or apple cider vinegar may also be added.
Each type of probiotic beverage is different thanks to the various probiotic strains it contains. Specific strains of lactic acid bacteria, in particular the type called Lactobacillus, have been extensively studied as health-promoting probiotics.
In addition to certain beverages, probiotics are found in probiotic supplements and probiotic foods — including yogurt, sauerkraut and other cultured veggies.
Probiotic foods and drinks have existed in traditional diets for hundreds of years. For example, kombucha is believed to have originated in China and the Far East around 2,000 years ago, while kefir has been consumed throughout Europe and Asia since Biblical times.
Below are some of the many benefits typically associated with probiotic drinks:
The probiotic benefit that has been most extensively studied is the ability of probiotic bacteria to promote healthy gut functionality. Probiotics have been shown to help support intestinal tract health and to make nutrients more absorbable and available.
The reason they are prized for digestive health is because they help maintain the natural balance of bacterial organisms in our intestines, promoting beneficial microorganisms that can help to reduce occasional bloating, gas and constipation.
Probiotic drinks can support healthy bowel transit time and digestive function. Certain strains of probiotics can also support healthy elimination and the body’s natural cleansing process, plus may even reduce occasional constipation, gas and bloating.
More and more mounting evidence has found that gut health may be closely connected to healthy immune system function. Many specific strains of probiotics have been shown to help support a healthy immune system and support healthy immune system function.
Certain high-quality probiotic drinks, such as kvass made with beetroot juice, can provide antioxidants and naturally help promote a healthy gallbladder and liver.
Certain types of probiotics can help support the normal breakdown of complex carbohydrates and promote proper digestion and nutrient absorption, which could also be beneficial when it comes to healthy weight management (in addition to an overall healthy diet and lifestyle, including regular exercise).
Did you know that the digestive system is the second largest part of the neurological system and often called the body’s “second brain”? Healthy probiotic bacteria aid in the synthesis of neurotransmitters and other compounds that can help contribute to a positive outlook.
Not only can probiotics help maintain a healthy gut flora to support digestive function, but they may also help maintain oral health. This is because there are many types of bacteria in the mouth, and maintaining the right balance can help optimize oral health.
Many probiotic drinks are not only a great source of gut-friendly bacteria, but also a good way to get key nutrients. For example, kefir can supply a number of important minerals, healthy fats and protein, while fermented vegetable juices supply antioxidants and vitamins like vitamin C.
During fermentation, kombucha becomes carbonated and winds up containing B vitamins, enzymes, and a high concentration of beneficial acids (acetic, gluconic and lactic).
Each type of probiotic drink is made somewhat differently, although most follow the same general process. Probiotic drinks are made with colonies of bacteria and yeast that are responsible for initiating the fermentation process once combined with sugar.
While making fermented drinks takes some patience, they are easy to make and call for simple ingredients. However, you should always follow directions carefully.
Depending on the type of probiotic drink you choose to make, you’ll need a base (such as milk, beet juice, coconut water, tea, etc.) plus some type of yeast, kefir grains or starter agent (such as a “SCOBY”, or symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast that’s used to make kombucha).
You’ll also usually need to add some extra water and usually salt or sugar. (Side note: Don’t worry about the sugar content of most probiotic drinks that don’t have added sugar, since most of the sugar will be turned into beneficial acids during the fermentation process.)
Here are a few helpful tips for making your own probiotic drink:
A warm place in your kitchen (about 77 degrees) can help with the fermentation process needed to create probiotic drinks.
Use filtered spring water that is pure and chemical-free to help avoid “bad guy” bacteria from forming in your drink as well as the good bacteria you want.
Use organic ingredients — such as organic tea, vegetables, fruits, grains and sugar — that don’t have toxic pesticide residue. Chop veggies/fruits into one- to two-inch chunks, but don’t shred them.
Store your probiotic drinks in glass bottles with screw-on tops or another top that has a tight seal. This helps keep the drinks fresh and preserves the fizziness and sour taste of most probiotic drinks.
For the fermentation to occur, you’ll need to allow your probiotic drink mixture to sit out for anywhere between 1–10 days. Less time produces a weaker and less sour taste, while a longer sitting time makes the drinks ferment even longer and develop more tartness.
Once you’re happy with the taste, put your drink into smaller glass bottles and refrigerate it for at least 24 hours to allow it to cool and finish carbonating.
When should you drink a probiotic drink?
Any time of day you choose. Some experts recommend taking probiotic supplements on an empty stomach to help with absorption; however, probiotic drinks and foods can be consumed whenever it’s convenient.
Aside from emphasizing natural probiotic drinks in your diet, you can obtain strains of microbes that are known to benefit overall health by taking a daily probiotic supplement.
Ancient Nutrition’s SBO Probiotics contain not only special types of soil-based organism (SBO) probiotics, but also prebiotics and postbiotics for even more positive gut health effects. Together, these three support your digestive system and help keep gut function on track.
What makes soil-based probiotics special compared to other probiotic supplements? SBOs are a particular type of probiotic found in soil that are considered “hardy” and tolerant to the harsh conditions of the stomach, which greatly helps with absorption.
Like eating probiotic foods or consuming probiotic beverages, supplementing with SBO Probiotics can help reduce occasional constipation, bloating and flatulence/gassiness.
Depending on your interests, try Ancient Nutrition's SBO Probiotics Gut Restore, SBO Probiotics Ultimate formula, or our formulas made specifically for women and men. There are also Once Daily SBO Probiotics.