Kefir, Kombucha, or Kraut: What is the best probiotic?

It’s likely been suggested to you that you start taking probiotics. The world of gut health and its influence has become increasingly popular and for good reason. Your gut is the foundation of good health. It controls inflammation, contributes to your cellular and immune health, and acts as a second brain, in addition to controlling your mood and outlook. To say it is important is an understatement. One of the biggest topics in promoting good gut health is probiotics. There’s yogurt, sourdough bread, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, and plenty of others. But what is the best probiotic? We are going to deep dive into the research to let you know which probiotic is best for you.Kefir, Kombucha, or Kraut: What is the best probiotic?

The Importance of Probiotics

Probiotics are food and drink items that contain healthy bacterial strains. When we ingest these foods they provide our gut microbiome with more bacteria. This is typically a good thing because it diversifies the bacteria that live within your gut. 

We want a wide variety of healthy bacteria because each individual strain helps to support our body in different ways. The higher microdiversity, the more healthy we are. 

Many studies have linked probiotic intake to better health and lower disease risk. Some of the diseases that probiotics are believed to help include obesity, diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and others.

The K Probiotics

You may have heard of the K probiotics. They’re some of the most potent and easy to incorporate into our diets. The K probiotics include kefir, kombucha, kraut (sauerkraut), and kimchi. Two are drinks and two are foods. This diversity in type of probiotic type is one thing to consider when choosing the best probiotic for you. You may prefer to add it to smoothies or sandwiches. This is a personal preference and contributes to the best option for you as an individual. 

Let’s take a look at each one individually to see what benefits they bring to the table.


Kefir is a milk-based probiotic beverage. It is made by adding kefir grains to milk. The fermentation process makes the lactose more tolerable for people with lactose malabsorption (not to be confused with lactose intolerance). 

Kefir has also been found to potentially help fight off infections from multiple sources including candidas, e. coli, staph, and salmonella. Kefir can help with constipation and several animal studies suggest it can help improve the immune and metabolic systems.

Kefir is also a great source of protein, calcium, and vitamin D.

Kefir typically contains the following bacterial strains: Lactobacillus kefiri, Lactobacillus paracasei, Lactobacillus parabuchneri, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus lactis, Lactococcus lactis, Acetobacter lovaniensis, Kluyveromyces Lactis, Saccharomyces cerevisiae


Kombucha is a tea-based probiotic beverage. Kombucha is usually made by mixing black tea (although green tea can be used) with sugar and SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast). Since kombucha is made with tea, it has a higher polyphenolic content than other probiotic options. This content becomes more potent as the product ferments. 

Kombucha has a low pH level which helps to inhibit the growth of bacteria like H. pylori. While animal and in vitro studies have shown the ability of kombucha to help diabetes, high cholesterol, and oxidative stress, there are no studies in humans to show any benefits of kombucha. 

We have even more information in this article on Kombucha. It does show some complications with kombucha along with some touted benefits, however, most are proven through in vitro or in animal studies.

Kombuch typically contains the following bacterial strains: Komagataeibacter xylinus, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Zygosaccharomyces bailii. Brettanomyces bruxellensis, Acetobacter pasteurianus, Acetobacter aceti, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Zygosaccharomyces bailii, Brettanomyces bruxellensis, Acetobacter xylinum, Zygosaccharomyces spp., Acetobacter, Gluconacetobacter

Kraut and Kimchi

Sauerkraut and kimchi are both probiotic foods made with cabbage. Kimchi can use a wide variety of vegetables but sauerkraut is typically just cabbage and salt. 

Sauerkraut is high in phytochemicals, vitamin C, fiber, and probiotics. These give sauerkraut great ability to improve your digestive and immune health. Studies have shown it can help improve IBS symptoms. Usually, we see that unpasteurized probiotic foods work better, however, this study found that both pasteurized and unpasteurized sauerkraut helped improve IBS symptoms. 

Animal studies have shown promising results that sauerkraut has anti-carcinogenic and anti-atherosclerotic properties. They also show sauerkraut’s ability to scavenge free radicals and reduce cytokine-induced oxidative stress. Whether this translates to humans is still unknown but this is a great area for researchers to look into.

Sauerkraut typically has the following bacterial strains: Lactobacillus sakei, L. plantarum, Candidatus accumulibacter phosphatis, Thermatoga spp., Pseudomonas rhizosphaerae, L. hokkaidonensis, L. rhamnosus, Leuconostoc carnosum, Clostridium saccharobutyrilicum, Rahnella aquatillis, Citrobacter freundii, Enterobacter cloacae, Bifidobacterium dentium, Enterococcus faecalis, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus delbrueckii, Staphylococcus epidermidis, Lactobacillus curvatus, Lactobacillus brevis, Weissella confusa, Lactococcus lactis, Enterobacteriaceae, Leuconostoc spp., Yarrowia brassicae

While Kimchi typically contains the following: Leuconostoc gasicomitatum, Leuconostoc gelidum, Leuconostoc mesenteroides, Weissella koreensis, Weissella confuse, Lactobacillus sakei, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus curvatus, Trichosporon domesticum, Trichosporon loubieri, Saccharomyces unisporus, Pichia kluyveri

What probiotic is the best?

Based on research, we would say that sauerkraut and kefir will give you the best results. This is simply because we have data to prove their ability to improve health. However, just because studies haven’t been done on the others doesn’t mean they don’t work. They’ve been used for thousands of years and there is very likely a reason for it beyond preservation. 

If you want to drink your probiotic or you want more vitamin D and calcium, go for the kefir.

If you’d prefer to eat your probiotics, which seem to have more versatility, and you’d like to get more vitamin C and fiber, then sauerkraut is the way to go. 

Can probiotics be dangerous?

While we haven’t seen many issues with these types of probiotics, it is always a good thing to ask your doctor. People who have compromised immune systems are more susceptible to infections. Since probiotics are exposing your body to more bacteria, these populations may want to err on the side of caution before doing any drastic dietary changes. If the doctor has okayed it, then you are good to go!

Also, most store-bought probiotic items contain absurd amounts of sugar and unnecessary additives. This is one of those times when homemade is best. You control the amount of everything going in and you get the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve made something that is supporting your health!

Remember that prebiotics are a great alternative to probiotics if you are unable to tolerate probiotics. Prebiotics feed the good bacteria that already exist in your gut. So eating fibrous foods and taking Atrantil can help promote the good bacteria to flourish in your gut. 

How to get the most out of your probiotic food

To get the most out of your probiotics, eat a balanced diet. Eating probiotics can help improve your health, but if you’re eating unhealthily, you’re just adding more bacteria to the environment which can promote bloating instead of fixing it. 

Make sure you check your packaging to see what ingredients are added. If there is a ton of sugar, it isn’t worth eating. Also, make sure to see what bacterial strains are in the food. If they are pasteurized this can inhibit the amount of bacteria you’re actually getting. So that is something to keep in mind. 

Lead a healthy lifestyle of eating well, sleeping enough, drinking plenty of water, and getting regular exercise. All of these things equate to a healthy body and help you maximize the benefits of your probiotics. 

If you’re looking for a supplemental version of probiotics ask your doctor about AtrantilPro. AtrantilPro has both prebiotics and probiotics that can help support your digestive and overall health.

What is your favorite way to get probiotics in your diet? Let us know in the comments below.