The Dairy-Free Foods Your Gut's Been Missing

My Bariatric Life | May 6th 2015 Apr 10th 2017

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Probiotics are good gut bacteria that help stimulate digestive juices and enzymes to help organs function properly. They are traditionally found in dairy products, such as yogurt. However, these typically contain lactose, to which people can become intolerant after bariatric surgery, and which has been linked to obesity. Here are some dairy-free suggestions to help keep your gut happy and healthy.

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Pickles

Pickles are bursting with the probiotics that help kick bad bacteria from the gut. They can help relax bloating, gas, diarrhea and constipation, as well as other digestive nuisances. They are also an excellent go-to for vegetarians.

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Ginger

Ginger relaxes the digestive tract and allows food to pass through it comfortably. Good sources include ginger tea or soft, chewable ginger candies. Hard candies should be avoided because sucking in extra air around while eating hard candy can cause gas.

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Chamomile

Chamomile sedates the digestive tract and reduces symptoms of reflux, abdominal pain, cramping, nausea, and vomiting. Chamomile is best ingested as tea.

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Kefir

With the same high level mix of probiotics (live bacteria that maintain gut balance), and prebiotics (non-digestible carbs that act as food for probiotics), kefir is about as close to yogurt as you’ll get. But it can be made with coconut milk, water or coconut water.

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Fennel seeds

When crushed while eating, fennel seeds release a compound that may help prevent GI spasms. Although it has yet to be clinically proven, some experts believe that fennel seeds also relieve gas, cramps, bloating and upset stomach.

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Sunchokes

Sunchokes also aid digestion by promoting a healthy balance of different gut bacteria in the gut. If you’re sensitive to foods such as apples, slice and bake your sunchokes as chips, instead of eating them raw. The inulin fiber in raw sunchokes can sometimes cause gas.

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Jicama

Jicama is another good probiotic source, with a slightly sweeter taste than most root veggies. Sprinkling chunks of raw jicama with lime juice and chili powder makes for a healthy substitute for french fries.

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Fermented vegetables

Fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut, garden kraut, kimchi, ramp kraut, and apple ginger kraut are also gut friendly foods. Traditionally pickled vegetables are also  not only probiotic,  but have no added sugar or vinegar and dense with nutrients.