This post is an introductory guide to understanding plant-based probiotics, including natural vegan and vegetarian food sources of prebiotics and probiotics for gut health and wellness.
What are Probiotics and Prebiotics?
Probiotics are live bacteria (microorganisms) that live inside of us and don't cause disease
Prebiotics are fermentable fibers that act like food for the probiotics.
You can find both probiotics and prebiotics in natural foods, some of which are probably already in your kitchen.
Why Do Probiotics Matter?
Emerging research indicates probiotics play a role in overall health, especially as it's related to the functioning of the gastrointestinal system, but we need additional studies to explain how different strains work to fully understand their unique clinical uses.
Plant-Based Probiotics: Vegan and Vegetarian Food Sources
Probiotics are found in many plant-based fermented foods. Look for foods with live and active cultures and check for proper storage instructions. Many cultured foods need to be refrigerated to keep the probiotics alive.
Vegan Probiotic Food Sources:
- Fermented pickles
- Cultured dairy-free yogurt and kefir alternatives
- Sourdough bread
Additional Vegetarian Probiotic Food Sources:
- Cultured yogurt and kefir
- Cultured cheeses
Plant-Based Sources of Prebiotics:
Choose fibrous vegan and vegetarian meals with:
- Whole wheat
Should You Take Plant-Based Probiotics as a Supplement?
Probiotic supplements are generally safe for most people, but you should always check with a dietitian or doctor before you start something new, especially if you're taking medications or have a health condition.
It's important to note that different strains of probiotics will act differently in your body, and supplements vary greatly in the number of live cultures (known as CFUs or Colony Forming Units) in each capsule.
Gut Healthy Vegan and Vegetarian Recipes to Try
- 7-Ingredient BBQ Tempeh Loaded Sweet Potatoes
- Pistachio Yogurt Dipped Strawberries
- Brown Butter Miso Roasted Eggplant
- Shiitake Mushroom Bowls with Creamy Miso Sauce
- Baked Apples and Pears with Maple and Thyme
- Pan-Fried Tofu with Mango Kefir
- Pumpkin Oat Pancakes with Fruit and Yogurt
- Strawberry Yogurt Parfait with Chocolate Chia Seed Granola
- Pan-Fried Asparagus with Feta and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
- Asparagus Chard Ramen Noodle Bowls
(This post was most recently updated on August 31, 2020.)