These Vegan Probiotics Can Improve Your Gut Health Without Breaking Your Plant-Based Lifestyle

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Since many probiotics include dairy-based ingredients, “vegan probiotic” might seem like a misnomer — but there are plenty of probiotic supplements, powders, and foods that are vegan-friendly, and the best vegan probiotics and prebiotics can help keep your gut healthy. Bustle spoke with Julieana Hever, a plant-based dietician and co-author of The Healthspan Solution, to learn more.

A Note On Vegan Probiotics:

Hever recommends focusing on deriving healthy bacteria from certain foods, like sauerkraut, miso, kimchi, and tempeh. Below you'll find several probiotic-rich food options that Amazon reviewers love, in addition to some probiotic (and prebiotic) supplements.

When it comes to probiotic supplements, it's important to understand that there's no one-size-fits-all formula. “The research on the microbiome is enormous and the recommendations thus far on the ideal formula are inconclusive. Additionally, people respond differently - or not at all - to different formulations,” Hever says.

That said, there are some things to look for to help guide your search for a good probiotic. To start, you can pay attention to CFUs. CFU stands for colony forming unit, but it’s often used to describe culture count. Essentially, CFUs are the number of healthy bacteria that probiotics contain. Hever suggests aiming high: “Probably more is better, but, again, these supplements are too complex to have a clearcut number,” she says.

In addition to CFUs, you can also look for the number of bacteria strains. Since each strain will offer unique qualities, it's a good idea to look for a blend with a diversity of strains, according to Well + Good.

Why Prebiotics Matter Too

Additionally, Hever stresses the importance of prebiotics. “...[Perhaps the most effective step you can take is to ensure you are consuming ample prebiotics. This is the fuel that supports the growth and proliferation of healthy bacteria, which then staves off pathogenic, or disease-promoting, bacteria,” she explains. “Prebiotic-rich food comes from plants exclusively and exceptionally rich sources include mushrooms, oats, barley, leeks, asparagus, onions, garlic, chicory, Jerusalem artichokes, and legumes."

The Best Vegan Probiotic Supplements

  • The Best Overall

BioGanix BioPro-50 Probiotics are a vegan, gluten-free, and U.S.-made pick with a 4.1-star Amazon rating. The capsules are specially designed for easy swallowing, contain 11 different strains of good bacteria, and provide NutraFlora, a prebiotic fiber, to increase overall effectiveness. At 50 billion CFUs, this pick contains the highest CFU level of all the supplements featured on this list. It's also conveniently shelf-stable, meaning no there's no refrigeration required.

What fans are saying: “Since I started taking this product one month ago, my intestinal health has improved 100%. I researched probiotics before making this purchase and found that this product met all the requirements. I feel I got a high quality probiotic at a fantastic price. Would highly recommend.”

  • A Doctor-Formulated Option With 12 Different Bacteria Strains

Dr. Stern's Rebalance Probiotic Supplement is doctor-formulated, soy-free, gluten-free, and non-GMO. It contains 20 billion CFUs, 12 different bacteria strains, and is shelf-stable. This pick is also 100% plant-based, and contains and organic inulin — which exists in both chicory root and artichokes — making it both a probiotic and prebiotic. It also contains zero additives, and it’s earned a 4.4-star rating on Amazon.

What fans are saying: “This is the best! I have tried numerous supplements and have never felt anything. Within one week my stomach feels better. My skin has cleared up too. I highly recommend this supplement!”

  • A Vegan Prebiotic & Probiotic Blend With Jerusalem Artichokes

Ora Organic Trust Your Gut Vegan Prebiotic & Probiotic Capsules contain 16 billion CFUs and six bacteria strains, and is also shelf-stable. This organic pick is also non-GMO, gluten-free, soy-free, sustainably sourced, and contain no added sugars. It features inulin sourced from organic Jerusalem artichokes, plus it’s also vegan action-certified. Amazon shoppers give it a 4.2-star rating.

What fans are saying: “I am a vegan and it works very well for me. I have already reordered my second bottle and will continue to do so. I do highly recommended trying it.”

The Best Probiotic & Prebiotic Foods

  • An Organic, Vegan Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut is a probiotic-rich food that’s packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber — and it can even improve digestion, reduce stress, and reduce the risk of certain cancers. Oregon Brineworks Organic Sauerkraut in particular is raw, organic, gluten-free, soy-free, GMO-free, and vegan. This artisanal, small-batch product of Oregon is crunchy, high in probiotics, and Amazon shoppers give it a 4.4-star rating.

What fans are saying: “Freaking good. I love how the raw kind is crunchy and has more flavor than store bought brands usually do. It's been delicious to eat a few tablespoons a day on my sourdough, ghee, lettuce and grilled chicken sandwiches. Since adding this, my digestive health has been getting much better. I'll be a regular customer from now. [...]"

  • A Vegan Snack Bar Made With 100% Organic Whole Grain Rolled Oats

Whole oats are a powerful prebiotic food that provide a slough of health benefits — including slowing digestion, controlling appetite, and protecting against inflammation. Oats also contain beta-glucan fiber, which has been linked to healthy gut bacteria and better blood sugar control. Made with 100% organic rolled oats, Bobo’s Original Oat Bars are a great way to reap the prebiotic benefits of whole oats. They’re gluten-free, soy-free, GMO-free, and vegan. Plus, Amazon shoppers give them a 4.2-star rating.

What fans are saying: “Bobo's Oat Bars are delicious and nutritious! They make a very filling breakfast, snack, or meal replacement. And in my opinion, even though they come in a variety of terrific flavors, the banana and the original flavor are the two best.”

  • A Vegan, Organic Miso Paste From Japan

Miso is traditionally made by fermenting soybeans with salt and a type of fungus called koji. This probiotic-rich food is generally used as a seasoning, and it contains high levels of various vitamins, minerals, and plant compounds, including vitamin K, manganese, and copper. Specifically, the vegan Hikari Miso Organic Miso Paste is made from 100% organic rice and soybeans, and it’s free of additives, gluten, MSG, and GMOs. Amazon shoppers give it a 4-star rating and over 500 reviews.

What fans are saying: “This is an excellent brand for an organic miso. I've used this brand before and love the flavor. This miso is versatile for soups, dressings, and used in dips. Miso is also a good source for probiotic if you like fermented soybean paste in cooking. It arrived well packaged. Will buy again!”

  • A Vegan Prebiotic Powder Made From 100% Organic Jerusalem Artichokes

Jerusalem artichokes are a high-fiber, low-carb, and prebiotic-rich food that work to keep blood sugar levels stable while increasing the number of good bacteria in the gut. Erbology Sunchoke Raw Organic Powder is made from 100% organic Jerusalem artichoke tubers, and it’s raw, vegan, gluten-free, and non-GMO. Plus, it boasts a 4-star rating on Amazon. Just add the recommended dose of powder to your daily smoothies, soups, or broths.

What fans are saying: “I already love artichokes, so I love the flavor. I blend with hot broth and drink as I’m making dinner. I’m sure I can mix with smoothies when it warms up. So great to know I am getting my prebiotics daily. I have a sensitive stomach and get heartburn so I cannot tolerate other forms of inulin fiber, like chicory root, acacia, green banana, etc.”

  • A Chicory Root Granule That Can Be Added To Your Morning Coffee

Chicory root is prebiotic-packed because it’s high in inulin, which is a prebiotic fiber. Chicory root can also help with digestion and constipation, and it has antioxidant properties to boot. Anthony's Organic Roasted Chicory Root Granules are vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO, and certified-USDA organic. You can brew this option as a coffee substitute, or toss some in your coffee pot to complement your morning java. Just keep in mind that chicory root is completely caffeine-free.

What fans are saying: "Amazing substitute for coffee!! I always liked chicory from my childhood days in India and this one is perfect. I made this in my cappuccino maker and it came out with a beautiful, foamy, espresso-style chicory coffee that tasted great with homemade almond milk and one teaspoon of sugar."

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