The range of vegan yogurts out there today has become so vast that it almost overtakes dairy-based yogurt in the supermarket.
When making the switch to plant-based yogurt, the most common question people have is whether they’ll still get a good dose of probiotics from each serving.
Does dairy-free yogurt have probiotics? Yes, most vegan yogurts contain live cultures or probiotics, so it’s an easy way to get add more to your gut.
However, these plant-based alternatives are usually higher in sugar and contain less protein, so they’re not to be eaten as freely.
Going vegan doesn’t mean giving up on essential things like probiotics, but it does require some research to ensure you’re getting them from the right sources.
We’ll look at the role of probiotics in the body and how vegans can source them from plant-based yogurt and other foods.
What Are Probiotics?
The term ‘probiotics’ has become a buzzword in recent times, and unlike the bad bacteria of the world, it’s used to describe the beneficial bacteria that live in our bodies.
Probiotics consist of live bacteria or yeasts, and sometimes both, and they’re classed as good bacteria.
Our microbiome is the community of organisms that live inside of our digestive system and it includes microbes like bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
The addition of probiotics, or good bacteria, into this community, means we’re better equipped to fight off illness and keep our body running as it should.
There are lots of things that throw off the bacteria balance in our microbiome so making sure we’re getting a healthy dose of probiotics every day is essential to counteract it.
With the right balance of good bacteria, we’ll be healthier, able to digest our food better, support the cells of the body, and create vitamins.
How Many Probiotics Do We Need?
Every human has a unique microbiome and various things can throw it off, including going on certain medications or eating unhealthy foods.
The number of probiotics that someone needs each day will differ depending on the makeup of their microbiome, and it can vary from month to month.
You should also consider the source of probiotics, like whether you’re taking a daily probiotic supplement or just trying to eat more of the foods that contain this live culture.
The general recommendation for a supplement is taking around 5 to 10 billion colony forming units (CFU) of probiotics a day for kids and 10 to 20 billion CFU for adults.
The best way to improve your daily probiotic intake is with a range of different foods that have been proven to contain different varieties of these bacteria.
For vegans, there are lots of great plant-based options including dairy-free yogurt, so it’s not an area you have to be concerned about developing a potential deficiency in.
Timing is also important with probiotics, and the experts recommend spreading it out during the day with various snacks and meals.
This ensures you get the best absorption but also promotes eating a range of healthy foods that contain probiotics, so it’s a win-win.
Are There Probiotics in Dairy-Free Yoghurt?
Dairy-free yogurt is a good source of probiotics for vegans and there’s no need to eat animal products just to enjoy it.
The most common plant-based sources used to make dairy-free yogurt are coconut, cashews, soy, almonds, and peas, depending on your preference and the nutritional profile you’re after.
Although live active cultures are present, there are some potential downsides if you don’t choose the right vegan yogurt.
As they’re not made with cow’s milk, the protein and calcium content are usually lower so you won’t get as many nutrients. They also contain more added sugars and calories than dairy yogurts which means they’re not always as healthy.
There are some brands committed to creating healthier vegan yogurts with less sugars and more protein, so you should set your sights on these instead.
Look for a product that has a healthier nutritional profile and more protein, while still being rich in bacteria like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.
Other Sources of Probiotics for Vegans
Becoming a vegan sometimes means having to source your nutrients from new places, but with probiotics, there’s no need to change a thing.
Some of the foods highest in probiotics happen to be naturally vegan too, so try adding more of these into your diet to balance out the bacteria in your gut.
The two most popular fermented vegetable foods are kimchi, or fermented spiced vegetables like cabbage and radish, and sauerkraut which is made with fermented cabbage.
However, all kinds of fermented vegetables can be enjoyed for a probiotic hit, especially pickles. Snack on them on their own or add them to salads and sandwiches for a flavor-packed hit.
This fermented tea drink is a vegan’s best friend, and the symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY) that forms on top of it is loaded with good stuff that your gut needs.
The lactic acid bacteria present in kombucha is rich in probiotics and it tastes amazing as well. Learning to brew your own can save a lot of money and give you control over what flavors you make the tea with.
Vegans usually incorporate a range of soy-based products into their diet as it is, and many of them are also high in probiotics. The best choice is tempeh, which also has high fiber levels, so it acts as a prebiotic as well.
This means it’s a source of food for the existing good bacteria in your gut, helping them to flourish.
Sourdough is made with a special starter that helps give it a bigger boost of bacteria than your regular loaf of bread.
Learning a simple sourdough recipe you can make at home is a simple and tasty way to eat more probiotics while still following a vegan diet.
Miso soup and miso paste are two delicious ways to get more probiotics into your daily diet. The traditional Japanese seasoning is used in all kinds of vegan cooking, including making pasta sauces and stir-fries.
Miso paste is made with fermented soya beans so it’s a great source of good bacteria and features no animal products.
If you’re uncertain that you’re getting enough probiotics from food alone, you might want to consider a supplement. Probiotic supplements are rated by their CFUs and quality, but not all of them are created equally.
Check the quality of the manufacturer and the product, ensuring your choose a probiotic that matches your preferences.
If you’re unsure about the probiotic content of a certain food, you can look for things like ‘live and active cultures’ or the specific bacteria names listed with the ingredients.
Eating foods from a variety of sources is usually enough to give you the right amount of probiotics without having to rely on a supplement.
Guilt and Dairy Free Gut Health
The more we learn about the role of probiotics and how important they are for our bodies, the more we aim to get into our daily diets.
As a vegan, there are loads of great sources of probiotics, including plant-based yogurts, so you have plenty of opportunities for improving your gut health.
Improving our gut health is vital for so many other aspects of our wellbeing, and doing whatever possible to implement probiotic-rich foods into your diet is the best way to do it.
To find out more about the vegan-friendly ways to eat more probiotics, read on for a few FAQs that can help.
What Fruit Has the Most Probiotics?
There are lots of fruits that contain prebiotics which act as a food source for the good bacteria in your digestive system and helps them to thrive.
To increase probiotics with fruit, eating more bananas, custard apples, watermelon, and grapefruit is the best place to start.
Does Lactose-Free Yoghurt Have Probiotics?
A lactose-free dairy-based yogurt will have just as much probiotic bacteria as its dairy counterpart.
These yogurts are suitable for lactose-free individuals as they’re more likely to absorb the probiotic content, which can sometimes be hard when dealing with lactose maldigestion after eating a product that contains lactose.
Should Probiotics Be Refrigerated?
Probiotic supplements are usually recommended for refrigeration because they contain live active cultures which may be sensitive to heat and moisture.
However, there are some products labeled as shelf-stable which can be stored in a cool, dry place, but you should check the directions provided by the manufacturer.
Lorraine Pinnix is a passionate nutritionist and loves seeing people living healthy, and fulfilled lives. She believes that food is an essential piece of staying fit and strongly believes in going vegan. PureGrowthOrganic is a passionate work that details her research in helping you go on complete organic diets. She is available for questions, comments, and follow-ups.