Walk into the frozen section of any supermarket and you’ll find the shelves full of branded probiotic drinks and yogurts.
Activia is one of several big brands that sell a large range of probiotic products. But with so many to choose from which is the best and are Activia probiotics any good?
Before answering these questions lets get a better understanding of probiotics.
What Are Probiotic Bacteria
Probiotics are living organisms that are created through the process of fermentation. These probiotic bacteria mimic the many strains of microflora or beneficial bacteria that our own body produces.
Our beneficial bacteria live in the lower digestive tract and provide a protective barrier that lines the walls of your intestines. They are critical to the health of the digestion system because they protect it from disease causing bacteria, pathogens, parasites and yeast infections.
Do you know that 70% of your immune system is located in the digestive tract and these friendly bacteria are responsible for protecting that too.
However, a healthy bacterial balance can be easily eroded by eating a poor diet, taking too many antibiotics, laxatives, antacids and a lack of exercise.
The theory behind using probiotics is that they’ll replenish the good bacteria you’ve lost.
Whose Behind Activia Probiotic Yogurt
The Activia range of probiotic yogurts and drinks are produced by the European Company Danone, in the US they’re known as Dannon.
Activia yogurt is part of a huge health market that promotes and sells probiotic yogurts and drinks. Many of the manufacturers, including Danone have made made several claims that their yogurt can improve your digestive health and help alleviate certain digestive disorders.
The Activia ranges comes in a range of different fruit flavors, natural, low fat free and cereal fiber yogurts.
Activia Probiotic Strains
To be called a probiotic yogurt the product must contain a live active culture, which is a fancy name for a probiotic bacteria.
Like many health food companies, Danone use their own exclusive probiotic cultures called Bifidus ActiRegularis® in their range of Activia yogurts.
Danone market a number of other Bifidobacterium derivative strains and add their own invented name to the end of it.
For example, Bifidobacterium Lactic and Bifidobacterium Digestivum are two such names.
These invented names describe the suggested beneficial properties of that strain, for example Digestivum relates to the digestion and ‘Regularus’ means ‘regular’ as in regular bowel movements.
The Problem With Probiotics
There are several hundred strains of probiotics that could fill an encyclopedia. To make it even more confusing, each strain performs a specific role within the digestive system.
For example Activia’s Bifidus ActiRegularis® is derived from the Bifidobacterium Animalis strain which lives in the intestines of most mammals and humans. This strain is believed to reduce the spread of harmful bacteria and help in the production of vitamin B12.
The fact is, with so many different strains and each one with a specific purpose it can confusing trying to figure out which one you actually need. Certain people will be lacking in a different strains of bacteria, but how do you know which strain to use?
Furthermore, there is no standard recommended daily allowance for using probiotics as there are with vitamin supplements. So, we don’t really know if we’re taking too much or too little to have an affect.
There’s also the concern that ingesting different strains together may have an negative on our health. So there are still a lot of questions to be answered.