As we deal with the global COVID-19 pandemic, staying healthy is essential. One of the ways to do this is to keep our digestive systems healthy. Enter probiotics; more specifically, VEGAN probiotics!
You can check out our discussion of vegan probiotics here…
…or read on for a quick summary.
The human digestive system contains a lot of bacteria, most of which are harmless. Collectively, these microorganisms are referred to as gut flora, and are found primarily in the colon and large intestine. They’re SUPER helpful to the body in a couple of ways; they help to control the digestive process and keep your immune system in check.
Gut flora, along with other organisms living in the body (such as viruses and fungi) make up your microbiome. Each person’s microbiome is TRULY unique, and is determined partly by genetics and partly by environment.
When harmful gut flora outnumber harmless gut flora, the body can get out of whack.
Possible health problems that can arise include:
- heart disease
- upset stomach (and/or chronic stomach issues)
- skin issues (such as acne)
What are Probiotics?
Probiotics are live microorganisms that can help manage good gut bacteria, which results in a variety of health benefits.
The most common types of probiotics are:
- L. acidophilus (Lactobacillus reuteri) — mostly found in dairy products; aids in digestion and helps reduce vaginal bacteria
- B. longum (Bifidobaterium longum) — helps your body break down carbs
- L. reuteri — Has been shown to help reduce bad bacteria in your mouth
- B. breve (Bifidobacterium breve) — has been used to fight infections; helps absorb nutrients and fiber
- B. animalis — found in some yogurt, such as Dannon’s Activia; has immune-boosting properties and helps with digestion
- B. lactis — derived from raw milk; helps digestion and immune functions
What Do They Do for Your Body?
An unhealthy gut can lead to all sorts of health issues. Probiotics can help your body balance the good gut flora in your body.
Antibiotics, for example, can cause gut flora to become imbalanced, which may lead to stomach upset and digestive issues such as diarrhea.
What Do They Do for Your Brain?
Probiotics may also have positive effects on mental health.
Studies have shown that mood–and some mental disorders–can be impacted by the bacteria in our intestines. Certain strains of probiotics have been shown to have a positive impact on treating disorders such as OCD, depression, anxiety, and autism.
We don’t often realize how much of our overall health is dependent on the state of our intestines!
What’s the Difference Between Prebiotics and Probiotics?
Prebiotics are plant fibers that help stimulate the growth of healthy gut flora. They help create the ideal environment in which beneficial microorganisms can grow.
Prebiotics are found in fruits and vegetables that contain complex carbs and fiber including, but not limited to:
Are There Any Risks of Taking Probiotics?
It seems like probiotics would be a great thing to add to one’s diet, and for most people, they are!
Generally speaking, probiotics are safe, but always check with your doctor before taking any supplements. Children and some people with underlying health conditions may have adverse reactions to these supplements.
Are All Probiotics Vegan-Friendly?
Some probiotics contain animal products (dairy and others), so are not vegan-friendly. If you’re adhering to a strict vegan diet, you’ll want to pay close attention to both the active and inactive ingredients in supplements, as they may contain animal products.
The good news is, there are plenty of plant-based food sources of probiotics. Here are are few:
- Miso –– made from fermented soybeans, salt, and koji (Check out episode 353: What is Miso?)
- Kimchi — this is made with fermented cabbage but can also be made from radishes, and is also a great source of Potassium
- Kombucha — a fizzy fermented tea (usually black or green)
- Tempeh — compressed fermented soybeans
- Sourdough bread
- Natto — made from fermented soybeans
- Vegan yogurt
- Sauerkraut — fermented shredded cabbage
- Supplements — discussed in more detail below
Of the list above, a number are fermented foods. For more on fermented foods, check out episode 176: The Amazing Benefits of Fermented Foods.
What are Some Vegan Probiotic Supplements?
Here are a few things to consider when selecting a probiotic supplement:
- Check the active and inactive ingredients lists for any animal products or dairy
- Check the CFU count (colony forming units)
- Consider shelf stability — does it require refrigeration?
- Look at the strain diversity — the more diverse the better
We’ve compiled a list of 5 supplement recommendations in a variety of forms: tablets, gummies, and powder:
- Ora Organic Probiotics with Prebiotics
- Yuve Vegan Probiotic Gummies
- Naturelo Whole Food Vitamin for Women
- Flora Pro-Healthy Daily Probiotic by Naturenetics
Note — I do have direct experience with Nuzest. Here is a little bit about their supplement:
Clean Lean Protein Digestive Support Protein is a European Golden Pea protein blended with probiotics and other gut-friendly ingredients for healthy digestive support.
Clean Lean Protein Digestive Support Protein contains no artificial sweeteners, flavors, gums, or fillers; plus the L-Glutamine and particular probiotics in this formula were added to target gut health. It is available in Probiotic Cacao and Probiotic Vanilla.
We hope this has provided you with a good list of vegan probiotic options. Cheers to your health!
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Resources Used for this Episode:
- Probiotics 101: A Simple Beginner’s Guide
- Probiotics: What You Need to Know
- What Your Gut Bacteria Say About You
- Prebiotics, Probiotics, and Your Health
- 2020 Probiotic Supplements Guide
Recipe of the Week
Fermented Jalapenos from An Oregon Cottage.
Get everything you need to make your own fermented jalapenos here!
Thanks for listening!
Peace and Veggies,
Vickie and Larissa