When they hear the word “bacteria”, most people think of disease-causing microbes. However, there are also “good” bacteria called probiotics. They naturally inhabit our body and help our gut function properly. Normally, we get them from eating certain types of foods.
The most famous source of good bacteria is dairy products, but what about those allergic to lactose or people following a vegan diet? In contrast to many beliefs, certain plant-based foods and drinks are full of vegan probiotics. They work just like the bacteria found in dairy products, and give lots of extra positive effects.
The Work and Effect of Vegan Probiotics
Good bacteria replenishment balances the gut microbiota, helping our bodies avoid diseases. But its main job is moving the food through the intestines and extracting essential elements from it. Researchers are still working on a clear explanation for the work of probiotics, but it was proven these bacteria help solve problems like:
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Diarrhea (both caused by viruses and antibiotics)
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Skin conditions
- Allergic reactions
- Urinary conditions
- Oral problems
Best Sources of Vegan Probiotics
Eating and drinking dairies isn’t necessary if you want to keep your gut healthy. There are lots of plant-based probiotic sources:
Low calorie and full of vitamins, sauerkraut is also a great source of probiotics. The best variant is to eat it unpasteurized, as the pasteurization process usually eliminates many beneficial elements. It isn’t difficult to make sauerkraut at home, so consider learning a couple of recipes.
Another vegan probiotic food based on fermented cabbage, this inseparable part of every Korean meal contains lots of good bacteria, along with antioxidants and vitamins. Be aware that this side dish is really spicy, but you can regulate this if you make it on your own.
A contribution from Japanese cuisine, miso is famous all over the world for its taste and the fact that it contains about 160 strains of bacteria beneficial for the stomach.
This is a popular Indonesian food made from legumes. Outweighing the benefits of tofu, it’s an amazing source of probiotics for a vegan diet. The fermentation process makes the quantity of the good bacteria bigger, and the product itself better for your intestines.
- Sourdough bread.
Surprisingly for many people, sourdough bread is full of helpful bacteria. You can eat it as part of a healthy sandwich or make a bowl for soup out of it. However, be aware that gluten may be contained in it.
- Sour pickles.
These products may already be a part of your diet, but did you know that they contain lots of stomach-friendly bacteria? The benefits are derived better if the fermentation is natural, with the use of salt (sea salt is the best) and water. Unfortunately, most sour pickles sold at grocery stores contain many artificial additives.
- Soy and nut milks.
The word “lactobacilli” doesn’t necessarily imply dairy products and lactose. These probiotics can be naturally found in soy or nut milk, as well as added while producing these products. Read the labels of the milk you buy to make sure it contains natural vegan probiotics.
Not a food yet worth mentioning, kombucha is a top-notch source of probiotics. In combination with active enzymes and detoxification elements, kombucha is a huge beneficial combo for your intestines.
Probiotics Deficiency: Signs and Useful Tips
After a course of antibiotics, a probiotics deficiency is inevitable. These “anti-life” medications are commonly used to fight diseases by killing bacteria. Of course, along with disease-causing bacteria, probiotics are also partially removed from the body. To reestablish your digestive and immune systems, it’s important to increase the amount of vegan probiotic foods.
It’s best to aim to replenish the “good” bacteria after you’ve completed a course of antibiotics. Eating more fermented foods during the course will not change the condition, as the probiotics will still be removed.
If you are suffering from gas, diarrhea, or more complicated digestive disorders like Crohn’s or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), this may be a sign that your diet need more probiotics. In case of serious diseases, consult your doctor first, but take a good look at your meals anyways.
It’s always better to switch your vegan diet to a larger probiotic intake instead of taking supplements. In many cases, the diet is the key to the patients’ recovery from digestion disorders, both mild and severe.
An excess of bad bacteria caused by eating a lot of poor quality foods may cause food poisoning. If you feel that you may have this condition, increase the intake of vegan probiotics in your diet. Also, quit eating hard-to-digest foods, like those that contain gluten or soy.
In addition, whenever you travel, make sure to eat more probiotic-rich foods before, during, and after the journey. This will ensure your digestive system’s safety and boost your immune system.
People say “We are what we eat”, so if you are suffering from skin problems, alternating your diet may be the way out. Poor digestion leads to a number of skin conditions, from allergies and acne to eczema and psoriasis.
Start eating more products that contain probiotics, and also clean up your diet of fried foods and excess fat, if any. As soon as your gut microbiota comes back to a balance, these problems should disappear.
Weak Immune System
If you catch colds easily and seem to suffer from the flu almost constantly, this may be a sign that the good bacteria in your body is in deficiency. By increasing your intake of vegan probiotics, you will give your immunity a good boost. A strong immunity is often the result of your body’s ability to extract beneficial elements from the food you eat. And this process fully relies on probiotics that work inside your gut.
In addition, consuming more probiotics will help you teach your immune system to differentiate between alien bacteria and those created by your body. This will strengthen your resistance to colds and flus.
Yeast infections are most often caused by an excess of bad bacteria in your body. To solve this problem, you have to get rid of probiotics deficiency. Increase your intake of good bacteria as soon as you notice the symptoms of the infection.
Also, to help probiotics relieve the symptoms, make sure to reduce the intake of sugary carbohydrates. This is what bad bacteria are nourished with, making the deficiency of good bacteria even worse.
If your allergy symptoms get worse, the culprit may be the gut flora imbalance. By eating more probiotic-friendly vegan foods you will clean your body of allergens and solve the leaky gut problem. Make it your routine, as if you decrease your intake right after the allergy is gone, it may come back again at once.
However, remember that along with adding probiotics you also have to remove all potential allergens from your diet. The bacteria are useful, but if you continue eating foods you are allergic to, the problem will not be solved.
Eating Vegan Probiotics Every Day
Make sure to include the aforementioned foods into your diet every day. These products are mostly low calorie, full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, enzymes, etc. This means that you not only provide your intestines with enough good bacteria, but also improve your overall health with a combination of essential nutrients.