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IntroductionWe all have probably consumed probiotics at some point in our lives either with or without our knowledge. Probiotics can best be described as “good bacteria.” Your gut houses both bad and good bacteria. This therefore means that you ought to ensure that there is a balance of the two. Through research studies over time, probiotics have been found to have benefits such as re-establishing and maintaining gut integrity thus resulting in healthy digestion and also they provide mental health support and promote an immune system boost. Therefore to maintain your body at optimal health, it is recommended that you stick to daily probiotic consumption.
Why Should You Take Probiotics?There are multiple benefits of probiotics since your body requires a healthy dose of good bacteria so as to maintain wellness. Some of the many daily functions performed by probiotics include:
- Production of vitamins.
- Break down and digestion of food.
- Management of diarrhea and urinary tract infections.
- Replenishment of the good bacteria destroyed by environmental insults and antibiotics.
- Suppression of other less altruistic microbes that threaten to take over or cause infections for example yeast.
- Potential alleviation of medical conditions like Colitis, ulcers, Autoimmune Illnesses, Diarrhea (especially due to antibiotic use), Irritable bowel syndrome, chronic yeast infections among others.
Deeper Into ProbioticsProbiotics are usually mostly attributed to yogurt. A common “good bacteria” is lactobacillus. Contrary to popular belief, lactobacillus (a strain of bacteria) is not associated with lactose (a milk sugar). In actual sense, lactobacillus is present everywhere. Therefore, it is not surprising that a lot of “vegan” probiotics DO contain lactobacillus. This has however no settled the vegan debate in relation to presence of lactobacillus in probiotics. If you want a vegan option and you fail to find one that does not contain lactobacillus, you can opt for fermented plant foods. These tend to be cheaper, more effective and tastier as compared to supplements. You can therefore add these to your daily intake but you should also ensure you have all the necessary education and information on how to plan the incorporation of these new foods to your meals. Some of these fermented foods are kimchi, coconut or water kefir, miso, tempeh, sauerkraut, cultured vegetables and kombucha.
Vegan Probiotic SourcesSince veganism cuts out all animal products, getting proper nutrition and particularly getting probiotics from a vegan diet may prove difficult, especially for the new vegan. Popular options like dairy-based yogurt, soft cheeses, milk and milk-kefir may no longer be viable for you. In such cases you can go for coconut milk yogurt or soy-based yogurts. Here is a list of some vegan foods that you can go for which are still high in naturally-occurring probiotics.
- Soy/Nut Milks
- Sour Pickles
- Sourdough Bread