Q Will dairy-free yoghurt provide a similar probiotic benefit to natural yoghurt?
Good news! These days you can get lots of pro-biotic alternatives to dairy yoghurt if you’re looking for some gut healthy breakfast (or dessert) material. However, if you’re avoiding dairy because of a lactose intolerance (the naturally occurring sugars in milk), you may not have to rule it out altogether as there are some dairy options that could still work for you. Good quality organic yoghurts often contain strains of bacteria that actually help to digest the lactose such as lactobacillus bulgaricus (l.bulgaricus). This particular probiotic is included in both dairy and non-dairy yoghurts alike so it’s good to check the label. Unfortunately, the cheaper yoghurt-drinks that are on the market don’t tend to have significant (or more often any) inclusion of this friendly bacteria.
The other issue with widely produced commercial yoghurt is that any naturally occurring bacteria tends to be killed off during the pasteurisation process which involves high temperatures, so any bacteria you do find is usually added back in at the end and you may not get the same ‘fermented benefits’ as an organic version.
Most soya yoghurts go through pasteurisation too and so don’t tend to contain any live bacteria, but Provamel yoghurts do contain bifidus – a naturally occurring friendly bacteria found in our gut – so may be helpful. However, my personal favourite is Coyo, which, as the name suggests, is made from coconuts. It comes in natural coconut, vanilla or chocolate flavours and is dairy, soya, lactose and gluten-free. Nor does it contain sugar – what’s not to love!
About our expert: Becky Graham is a nutritional therapist based at the renowned Institute for Optimum Nutrition in Richmond, London. She is trained in Functional Medicine, which uses a personalised approach to nutrition, working with a wide range of conditions from stress and low energy to digestive or hormonal imbalances. As well as working with clients on an individual basis, Becky works with large companies to support health and well-being initiatives. Check out her website at www.healthyhedonist.co.uk