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Helen Bennett Harvey promises that no animals were harmed in the making of this blog. Vegging Out is a recipe for a new way of life. Or at least a new way of eating. Pull up a chair. Contact me at:

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A delicate balance

What’s in your gut?

We read over and over that having the proper balance of bacteria in our intestines is crucial to our health. I have even read that all health can be traced to how well various parts of the digestive system function. There is apparently even quite a connection between what goes on in your head and what is grumbling around somewhere else.

It’s all about bacteria.

So as a newly minted possible vegan, this gave me cause for concern. I might be a dummy, but I really can’t think of any way to get good bacteria other than from some sort of cultured food. This usually means yogurt.
Even kefir.

I love yogurt.

But vegans don’t eat milk-based yogurt, so none for me, at least during this 3-week vegan try out. (Will I make the team?)

So on my way to work today, I stopped off at Edge of the Woods in New Haven. It’s a vegetarian dream store. Heck, lots of organic stuff too, and I have never seen meat there. The bakery vegan cookie I bought for Lauren and I to share was not so hot.

But they have Probiotic Soymilk. Doesn’t sound yummy to you?

Well, it ain’t half bad.

Packed full of 30 percent of the daily requirement of Vitamin D, it also boasts “7 live and active culture.” The one I bought also was on sale and slightly out of date, and I’m thinking that means the bacteria count might have been even higher.

So I downed the entire thing (180 calories - much too high) and am hoping by now my bacteria balance it back where it should be.

I also, however, am curious about what other vegans do to make sure they keep up their culture.

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Blogger caringmom said...

Hmmm- I can say that the proper mix of probiotics does seem essential- what a good find- a soy probiotic. That extra Vitamin D is good too. Just check that expriration date next time!!! I own The Complete Idiot's Guide to Vegan Living. It says quinoa and amaranth and greens are the answer. Share recipes!

February 19, 2010 7:27 PM 
Blogger Helen Bennett Harvey said...

But do quinoa and amaranth and greens have probiotics? And can you share a recipe? (please!)

February 19, 2010 8:14 PM 
Anonymous Rich said...

Interesting questions! I think it has been fairly established that our bodies do, in fact, need probiotics, i.e. live bacteria, in order to maintain a balance within our intestinal tract. They help with the absorption of nutrients and help to boost the immune system. So, they are a good thing. And yes, they are live bacteria - the same type of bacteria that is often found naturally in our own digestive systems.

On the other hand, there are also prebiotics. Prebiotics aren't bacteria. They are specific nutrients, usually non-absorbable carbohydrates like fructo- and oligo-saccharides, which can be found naturally occurring in whole grains, fruits and legumes. They benefit a person by stimulating the bacteria in the digestive tract, to either grow or become more active, thereby increasing digestive health. So, prebiotics can help keep the probiotics level in your system where it needs to be, so to speak.

From what I understand, probiotics may be found in foods like sauerkraut and, I've heard, soy yogurt (no cows there).

Prebiotics are found in Raw chicory root, raw Jerusalem artichoke,raw dandelion greens, raw garlic, raw leeks, cooked and raw onions, raw asparagus, raw wheat bran and raw bananas, soy beans and inulin from such foods as agave, jicama, onions again, as well as others.

There are a lot of probiotic supplements that can be taken in capsule form as well.Companies like "Finest Natural", "Swanson Vitamins" and even "Phillips" (the milk of magnesia people) make a probiotic supplement.

All that said, please know that I am not endorsing any product or manufacturer. I am not a doctor nor do I play one on the internet. I offer this information only for your consideration from my own limited research.
Consult your healthcare practitioner for "offical" information. :>)

February 19, 2010 8:31 PM 
Blogger Helen Bennett Harvey said...

Rich - it means so much to have your thoughtful and wise advice on these issues - and I had no idea about prebiotics. The week has gone OK so far. No cheating and I am getting used to it. Next up, Lauren's turn!

February 20, 2010 10:21 AM 
Anonymous Kathleen said...

Helen, I go through two cases of 24 oz. soy yogurt every month. The Wildwood brand is very good, and if you don't like plain, vanilla tastes a lot like regular yogurt.I am addicted to pineapple and have fresh pineapple chunks with plain soy yogurt and pumpkin or sunflower seeds for lunch or a snack every day. I swear, that's why I never get sick. In fact, I didn't eat it for a week and I got my first cold in six years. There are at least six brands of cultured soy products out there, keep trying them until you find the one you like. If you do, consider joining the co-op, we get bulk health foods delivered once a month to Bethany Town Hall, and the discount is well worth it!

February 20, 2010 4:59 PM 
Anonymous Graham said...

Our bodies definitely need probiotics. It aids in the prevention of diseases and digestion.

But I would consult a nutritionist..

December 07, 2012 7:51 PM 

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