While moving in a supermarket or looking for a probiotic product, I always come across only dairy-based probiotic products. However, the web of probiotics is much more than what is known by a common man.
To start with, let us first discuss what exactly are probiotics. Probiotics are “living bacteria” that are naturally present in our gut and provides numerous benefits to our body including better digestion. However, it is recommended to consume a probiotic product to increase the number of good bacteria or yeast in our body for a better metabolism and digestion system. Normally, daily intake of probiotics should be around 20 billion CFU (CFU:- colony forming units) Mostly, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are considered to be the probiotic bacteria and for the yeast, Saccharomyces is used as a probiotic.
Since supermarkets are flooded with dairy-based probiotics, a vegan finds it difficult to search for a plant-based or vegan probiotic product. But, not to worry, we have ample vegan probiotic products in the market which provides similar benefits to our body as provided by the dairy-based probiotics. Here is a list of best plant-based probiotics apart from supplements and their benefits:-
A fermented cabbage dish, popular in Eastern Europe is an age-old probiotic product. Rich in probiotics, Vitamin C, Vitamin K and potassium, Sauerkraut is a simple cabbage fermented in a brine solution to give the end product. In the brine solution, the lactobacillus bacteria present in the cabbage is converted to lactic acid which in turn enhances the probiotic effect on the product. Though it can be easily made at home, it is also available in the supermarket and should be bought in an unpasteurized form.
Tempeh is a fermented soy product, similar to tofu, which is made by inoculating Rhizopus spp. Moulds such as Rhizopus Oryzae or Rhizopus oligosporus as a starter culture. Rich in protein, probiotics, calcium, iron and magnesium, it is considered to be a nutrient-dense product which might be consumed in salads, sandwiches etc.
It is a dish made by fermenting soy in salt and introducing strains of Aspergillus Oryzae by adding koji( Oryza spores in white rice). Sometimes, the fermentation is also done with rice, barley etc. giving rise to other variants of Miso. Miso is rich in proteins, antioxidants, B vitamins and various minerals along with some good bacterial strains leading to its probiotic properties.
Sourdough bread, a healthier alternative to normal whole wheat bread is made by dough fermentation with the strains of lactobacilli and yeast making it apt for vegans as a probiotic product. Normally, flour and water with the starter culture are kept for days to ferment. However, it is not mandatory that all the sourdough bread contains probiotic properties and hence it is essential to check the ingredients first.
Vegetables fermented in brine is a potential product for probiotic. Mostly, lactobacillus Plantarum is present in the pickles and is used as a side dish in most of the countries.
Fermented Soy Milk
The alternative dairy products for vegans also contain live cultures and is potential to act as a probiotic if fermented properly.
It is a Korean side dish which basically is pickled vegetables. The microorganism used in the fermentation of kimchi is Leuconostoc, Weissella, and Lactobacillus which are combined to form the end product and form a rich plant-based probiotic food with ample nutrients. The traditional Kimchi also has fish sauce, so there is a need to research the ingredients before buying kimchi.
It is a fermented tea which is made by introducing the symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY). It is a gelatinous matter which is not favourable organoleptically however contains a lot of nutrients and is full of bacterial microorganisms. The kombucha drink is however alcoholic but the alcohol content is comparatively very low.
Water kefir, made from cane juice, coconut water, fruit juice is a fermented probiotic drink in which kefir grains are used as a starter culture. Kefir grains are freeze-dried bacterial culture with ample of bacteria and yeast cultures. Moreover, it is not suitable for vegans to consume milk kefir. However, water kefir is one of the most nutritious probiotic drink one can have.
That ends our list of plant-based probiotics. If you want to take it a step further, then you can try out these amazing plant swaps.