When people think of probiotics, most think of yogurt – like Dannon, Yoplait, and Stonyfield, or yogurt-based drinks like Activia, Siggis Filmjolk, Wallaby whole-milk kefir, and Drink Chobani—all dairy-based products with active cultures.
But as the demand for dairy-free product increases, so too have the dairy-free probiotic drink options. In fact, Lifeway – known for their naturally fermented kefir products (especially their famous Kefir Cup line) – just launched Plantiful, a new line of plant-based probiotic beverages.
Probiotics, live microorganisms (bacteria and yeasts) that provide a myriad of health benefits when eaten or consumed in the right amounts, have been around for quite some time. Although people often associate germs as disease-causing, probiotics are the good or helpful bacteria that keep the gut healthy.
As the soda and sugary drink industry starts to decline, probiotic drinks are hitting the shelves and creating a bold impact in the lives of millions of people around the world.
Lifeway and Plantiful
Lifeway Foods, established in 1986, originally produced kefir (a.k.a. búlgaros) – a fermented milk product based from kefir grains which help start fermentation in cow, goat, or sheep milk. Founded by Russian immigrant Michael Smolyansky in Skokie, Illinois, Lifeway shared the delicious health drink with the rest of America, even though cultured dairy had already been popular in Eastern Europe for years.
Since its humble beginnings, Lifeway has helped create bold innovations in the industry. They have created ProBugs kefir specifically for children and their frozen kefir cafes are now all over the greater Chicago area.
While their kefir products prove to be popular, there is a growing demand for alternative sources of probiotics. Their new dairy-free Plantiful line, currently available in chocolate, chocolate reishi, coconut, coconut maca, vanilla, and vanilla chai variants, features plant-based probiotics. They introduced the new products during the 38th annual Natural Products Expo West & Engredea (simply ExpoWest 2018) held last March 12, 2018 in Boulder, Colorado.
“Consumers really want something new, something dynamic, they want to be challenged,” said Julie Smolyanski, current president and chief executive officer (CEO) of the company. “Today especially, they are really open minded to try something new,” she continued.
While healthy, most probiotics products (yogurt, kefir, soft cheeses, and milk) can pose possible issues for non-dairy consumers like those with lactose intolerance or people who choose a vegan lifestyle. Fortunately, there are plant-based alternatives such as Lifeway’s Plantiful. Here are several others:
- Sourdough bread
- Sour pickles
- Soy milk or nut milks
Other interesting sources include: sauerruben, a sauerkraut-like fermented vegetable from northern Europe; water kefir, also called tibicos or Japanese water crystals; Moroccan preserved lemons, a lemon fermented with wild lactobacillus; coconut kefir, fermented from coconut water and a starter culture; homemade ginger beer; and store-bought condiments or dressings.
In the market, there are more and more products rich in probiotics as well. GoodBelly, for example, is disrupting the industry with their “12-day risk free belly reboot” featuring juice drinks, probiotic shots, infused beverages, protein shakes, and nutrition bars, as well as their own probiotic supplement brand.
Popular juice brand Tropicana is jumping on the probiotic train as well, releasing their Essentials Probiotics lineup featuring fruit-based and “green” flavors of their own. Nutritionists also recommend probiotic drinks by Siggi’s, Wallaby, Chobani, Kevita, Farmhouse, Health-ade, and Suja. Truly, probiotic dirnks are the next trend to look out for.
Remember, probiotics already naturally exist in the human body. As such, experts know consuming probiotic-rich foods and drinks are generally safe. It is, however, important to still take note of allergies and mild digestive issues for certain people.