Probiotics for Diarrhea and Immunity: Science & Yogurt

Topics: Wellness and Health

The FTC’s probiotic record-setting $21m award to 39 states because of Dannon’s exaggerated claims that 1 serving of DanActive drink or Activia yogurt helps prevent colds and flu is in itself a little exaggerated.

The real data? You need 3 servings of Activia daily not 1, to “relieve temporary irregularity or help with slow intestinal transit time.”  The Wall Street Journal broke the story today (I’m quoted).

Probiotics effectively shorten acute diarrhea (not cold/flu) episodes by a day: the Cochrane Review validated the data with 63 studies just last month.  Some strains are better than others. But the Review found these results to be independent of the strain.

The best scientific studies–randomized clinical trials–have also found probiotic strains effective in treating childhood Helicobacter pylori gastritis, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic ulcerative colitis, and preventing childhood eczema. And preventing relapse in Crohn’s disease.

One caveat: look for low sugar foods with added live culture probiotics.

Putting extra sugar in yogurt with active probiotics may improve palatability and get people to eat more yogurt.

But if a marketing team is clever enough to put carrots in vending machines and actually sell them, and to create pre-sliced apples that don’t brown for 4 weeks, then getting Americans to eat 3 servings of lower-sugar yogurt daily (instead of chips, candy and cake) cannot be far off.