Plant 'milk' can be a probiotic alternative to conventional yogurt

Friday, January 10, 2014 by: Josh Anderson
Tags: plant milk, probiotics, yogurt

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(NaturalNews) For many people, getting the benefits of probiotics from eating conventional animal-based yogurt is not a possibility due to gluten or lactose intolerance, milk allergies or a vegan diet. Recently, a group of scientists from the Polytechnic University of Valencia have demonstrated that certain plant "milks" can be a potential substitute to conventional animal-based yogurt. The group illustrated how certain plant milks have the capability to support viable colonies of probiotic bacteria. This research has the potential to offer a healthy substitute (besides probiotic capsules) for animal- and soy-based yogurts.

Probiotics are naturally found in fermented vegetables, yogurt and breast milk and are a form of microscopic bacteria that commonly reside in our digestive tract. They provide a natural defense against a number of aliments by strengthening our immune system against certain diseases and viruses. Probiotics have also been linked to a reduction in certain allergies and shown to have the potential power to prevent certain cancers. Not only are probiotics important for disease protection, but improving or supplementing probiotic microflora can help you maintain a healthy weight and increase your energy. Conventional animal-based yogurt is one of the easiest and best sources of probiotics, but its consumption isn't possible for certain groups of people. The possibility of plant-based milks to contain probiotics and help them flourish has the potential to help numerous people.

Plant milks are produced by the fermentation of grains and nuts and have been found to have a high concentration of vitamins E and B, potassium, folic acid and antioxidants. Their folic acid content and high calcium-to-phosphorous ratio has caused them to be highly recommended for consumption by pregnant women. By studying plant milk produced by fermenting hazelnuts, almonds and oats (and currently experimenting with walnuts and chestnuts) the team of Valencia scientists determined that these forms of plant milk contained a matrix that was capable of supporting probiotic bacteria. Not only could it support probiotic bacteria, but it supported these bacteria over the life of the product and, most importantly, after its consumption.

This research puts forth a potential, natural form of probiotic supplementation for people with lactose or gluten intolerances and milk allergies. Likewise, this research offers new information about how to improve the current plant milks available and information on new innovative products that can be geared towards a very specific group of people and the public in general.

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