The health of the digestive system is important for everyone. A properly functioning digestive system and gut helps fight off disease and may boost the immune system. Within the digestive system are a large amount of bacteria – some are good and some are harmful. Probiotics are good gut bacteria - microorganisms which have very beneficial properties. When the good bacteria are activated, they can help prevent health problems by keeping the digestive organs functioning the right way.
The NIH provides this summary of probiotics:
"The World Health Organization defines probiotics as "live microorganisms, which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host." The most common types of these beneficial bacteria are Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria. Previous studies indicate that probiotics may have a role in treating gastrointestinal illnesses, boosting immunity, and preventing or slowing the development of certain types of cancer."
You can take advantage of several fermented probiotic foods with a vegan diet including tempeh, miso, soy yogurt with active bacteria, kimchi, and sauerkraut.
Prebiotics are food for the good bacteria and include dietary fiber which can be supplied by many vegan ingredients including legumes and dark leafy greens. The combination of prebiotics and probiotics is called synbiotics which works to make good bacteria dominant in your system.
A healthy vegan diet can provide a synbiotic condition, especially when the combination of fresh ingredients and fermented ingredients are eaten. So even though there are many new packaged products labeled as probiotic, the best way still to aid the good bacteria in your body is to eat as many great vegetables and vegan ingredients as often as you can!