4 Things to Look For in Dairy-Free Probiotic Supplements
Intestinal health is one of the biggest issues modern Americans face. The diet of most Americans has become intolerable for our physiology due to the high-fat and high-carb foods that are so easily accessible. As a result of our fast-food nation, if you will pardon the reference, most Americans suffer from indigestion, heartburn, bloating, and high cholesterol. These conditions can drastically affect our overall health and leave us struggling to remain healthy.
Our intestinal health is a sensitive part of our biology and requires careful maintenance. Fixing our intestinal health is harder than damaging it, so consistently poor dietary habits could eventually lead to irreversible damage. Therefore, it is best to tend to intestinal health before these problems manifest.
One of the tools commonly employed by health enthusiasts is probiotic foods, which maintain intestinal health. Probiotic foods are extremely common but usually require a radical change in diet to make them viable. This has led to the creation of probiotic supplements that offer the same benefits without introducing foods you might not enjoy.
Despite the benefit of probiotics, there are concerns for those who espouse dietary lifestyles that might not be conducive to certain supplements. Namely, some people might be unwilling or unable to consume dairy or dairy byproducts. Probiotics and dairy tend to be closely related, which means those who cannot consume dairy need to look for dairy-free probiotics with particular details.
What Are Probiotics?
If you are new to probiotics, you might be wondering what they are and what the fuss is. The short answer is that probiotics are bacteria, but before you get worried, probiotics are a good form of bacteria. The human intestinal system is comprised of several biological components, including a host of microbes, bacteria, fungi, etc.
While there are countless examples of microbes that are harmful to us, several are important to our health. For example, the bacteria in our intestines help regulate the environment in our gut and keep several biological functions in order. Namely, our digestion and immune system benefit from the bacteria in our guts and would suffer without them.
When our microbe levels fall out of alignment, it can lead to gastrointestinal disturbances such as bloating, excessive flatulence, and more. In severe cases, it can lead to immune dysfunction and infection that jeopardizes your health. Therefore, it is important to maintain the microbial ecosystem in your gut that keeps it healthy and regulated to prevent an imbalance. This can be challenging, but it is also why probiotics have gained popularity. The microbes that qualify as probiotics are the same bacteria important to our intestinal health.
Through probiotic consumption, we can prevent gastrointestinal disturbances and repopulate the good bacteria in our intestines. Granted, this is only effective when the bacterial levels are not severely depleted, but probiotic use can prevent depletion by maintaining a regular concentration of bacteria at all times.
Most probiotic bacteria are found in dairy products, which is off-putting to those who cannot consume dairy or vegans who refuse to consume it on principle. If you fall within one or both demographics, you will want to locate probiotic supplements that do not contain dairy. Doing so will require you to look for certain things when looking over a potential supplement.
#1: Is it Marked as Dairy-Free?
The most obvious detail when looking for a dairy-free probiotic is whether it is marked as dairy-free. By law, products must list the ingredients used in their creation, including dairy products. Failing to do so puts them in violation of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and could result in serious legal repercussions.
Usually, when removing something that might not be popular with everyone, a product will offer a distinctive marking that says the product is free of that substance. This applies to products made without dairy as several dairy-free products emulating dairy products will have a marking that says something like "dairy-free" on it. The marking might vary, but it will signify that the product lacks dairy-based ingredients.
Nowadays, the best way to identify dairy-free products is to look for anything marked "vegan," which is more common than the traditional "dairy-free" patch. The reason is that veganism has grown in popularity recently, and more manufacturers are labeling their vegan-friendly products to make it easier for vegans to shop. Vegans, as you might know, oppose consuming or using products involving animals in the manufacturing process.
This includes animal byproducts like milk, which excludes all dairy products. Therefore, any vegan probiotic supplements will be dairy-free and safe for consumption if you subscribe to the vegan lifestyle or cannot consume dairy.
While this is the most obvious sign that the product lacks dairy, you might have to take things a step further. Not every product will state the lack of dairy; you might have to read through the ingredients. However, this marks the end of avoiding dairy in your probiotic supplement and the beginning of making sure certain things are present.
#2: How Many Colony-Forming Units?
Probiotic supplements are designed to introduce living, viable bacterial cultures into your intestinal system. Without viable cultures, the supplement is useless, and you gain nothing from consuming the capsule. The supplement packaging will indicate whether the cultures are live and active or defunct. You are one step closer to locating a viable probiotic supplement if they are live. Unfortunately, having live cultures is insufficient to make the probiotic viable for your needs. You also need to figure out how many colony-forming units (CFU) per serving.
The number of colony-forming units determines how many bacteria are present in the serving and whether there will be enough to form a colony once ingested. If the bacteria cannot form a colony, they will die out, and you will not receive any benefit from the supplement. Unfortunately, determining the number of colony-forming units is not as simple as looking for a general guide.
A general recommendation is that your supplement has at least 1,000,000,000 colony-forming units per serving, but the circumstances vary depending on various factors. Each genus has different traits, which means you might need more or less than the other. Additionally, your unique biology might alter the number of colony-forming units considered safe for you. You will likely have to consult your primary care physician to determine exactly how many colony-forming units you need in your supplement if any.
Once you know how many colony-forming units you need, the next step is determining whether the supplement has the right bacteria.
#3: Which Genus of Bacteria is Present?
Bacteria come in many forms, most of which are extremely dangerous should they infiltrate our bodies. The ones we need for our gastrointestinal health are very specific and should be the only ones in your supplement. If they are absent, the supplement might be useless or harmful. Several genera of bacteria are relevant to our intestinal health and are readily marketed in probiotic supplements. The most notable of these bacteria include:
Your probiotic supplement will need to contain one or more of these genera to be beneficial since they all play a role in intestinal health. The one that might be setting off a few alarm bells right now is the Lactobacillus genus. You might have noticed the prefix "lacto" in this genus, which relates to the lactic acid present in milk. Fortunately, Lactobacillus bacteria are not inherently dairy since lactic acid is only an ingredient of milk.
Generally, Lactobacillus is dairy-free and is only cultured with dairy on rare occasions. If the supplement you are considering is marked "vegan" or "dairy-free" and contains Lactobacillus bacteria, it is still safe. However, it is recommended that those with milk allergies avoid Lactobacillus bacteria since lactic acid is still a dairy component.
The one you will want to scrutinize is the Bifidobacterium genus. Most Bifidobacterium bacteria are commonly used in fermented dairy products, and most strains are dairy-based. If you need a Bifidobacterium probiotic, it is possible to acquire one that is dairy-free. You will need to look for the following strains in your supplement:
- Bifidobacterium acidophilus (DDS-1)
- Bifidobacterium bifidum (Bb-02)
- Bifidobacterium longum (Bl-05)
These 3 strains of Bifidobacterium bacteria are dairy-free. Bifidobacterium lactis (Bl-04) can be dairy-free, but it can also be cultured in dairy, making it a gamble. Once again, any probiotic supplement labeled "vegan" or "dairy-free" that contains Bifidobacterium bacteria will be dairy-free. Either way, you will need to ensure the bacteria you need is present in the supplement, and these 4 genera are among the most important to our intestinal health.
#4: Check the Storage Needs
This next step is less about the quality of the supplement you purchase and more about ensuring you do not waste it. Bacteria, as biological substances, have environmental needs that you must meet, or they will die. The needs of the bacteria in your probiotic supplement are no different, and you must have an environment conducive to their needs.
Insofar as your supplements are concerned, you need to know how to store them properly to avoid damaging the bacteria. The storage information for your supplement will be marked on the packaging, so you will not have to do a deep dive into the research to figure it out. Most probiotic supplements require refrigeration and will be stored in refrigeration units while in the store. Others are best left in cool, dry areas away from direct sunlight.
If the probiotic is meant to be refrigerated, ensure it is in a refrigeration unit before purchasing it. If it has been sitting on a shelf away from the cooler, the bacteria might have deteriorated, or harmful bacteria might have infiltrated the container. Regardless, ensuring your probiotic is stored properly is essential to ensuring you do not diminish its efficacy. You will also want to check the expiration date on the packaging.
While it might sound odd, bacteria can go bad and become less potent the longer they are alive. Bacteria are living organisms, which means they age and eventually die. The short lifespan of bacteria is why they reproduce so effectively and promote their colony.
If the expiration date on the supplement is too old, the bacteria might have lost some of their strength. Finally, you will want to check to ensure the probiotic is encapsulated with inulin or a similar food source for the bacteria. Supplements with bacterial food sources ensure the bacteria can last longer and remain viable after extended periods sitting on a shelf. This helps keep the supplement viable in the store and between your daily doses.
Finding the Right Blend!
Probiotics have developed a significant following over the years due to their ability to regulate intestinal health. Nowadays, that task is more difficult than ever, given the deterioration of otherwise natural food sources. Furthermore, people are prone to illnesses or genetic issues that can damage the fragile ecosystem in our guts.
Those with dietary restrictions such as dairy allergies or vegan philosophies will face a greater challenge in meeting their dietary needs. This challenge extends to probiotic supplements since several use bacteria cultured in dairy. Fortunately, most opt for vegan manufacturing to ensure they are accessible to the largest demographic possible. Despite the accessibility of supplements, the biggest challenge will be finding a reliable supplement from a trustworthy vendor. That's where we come in.
We at Teami believe we can help you overcome that final challenge. We believe in producing naturalistic supplements designed to promote health and beauty in a world where natural treatment is in decline. Among our list of products is our Gut Love Probiotic + Prebiotic Powder, which contains 7 strains of healthy bacteria at 20,000,000,000 colony-forming units a serving. Our supplement can provide your daily dose of probiotics while offering prebiotic treatment to preserve the bacteria in your body.
We believe in producing quality products with natural ingredients so you can enjoy a healthy life which is why we have dedicated ourselves to making products like this. That is why finding the right blend is a Teami effort!
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