Probiotics, the friendly bacteria that live in the body, play an important role in keeping you healthy by fighting off harmful bacteria in your urinary, genital and digestive systems. These organisms may also have beneficial effects when taken as a supplement or in yogurt, but scientific evidence supporting some of these claims is not conclusive. Two of the more familiar organisms, Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidus Regularis, may be found in Stonyfield and Activia yogurts, respectively.
Lactobacillus acidophilus, also called L. acidophilus, is a member of the lactobacteria family of organisms. Lactobacteria thrive on milk sugar, also called lactose. When taken as a supplement, L. acidophilus is probably safe, but women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should talk with their health-care providers before taking it. Since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not monitor, regulate or evaluate supplements, do not assume that supplements are free of contamination, according to Drugs.com.
Bifidus Regularis is the trademarked name that the makers of Activia yogurt created for an organism called Bifidobacterium lactis DN-173 010, according to the company website. This organism belongs to the family of lactic acid bacteria that normally live in the intestinal tract and can also be found in fermented foods such as cheese and yogurt. Because the manufacturer owns the Bifidus Regularis name, only its products list this organism on the label.
Effectiveness of L. Acidophilus
L. acidophilus has not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of any condition or disease. According to the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, however, L. acidophilus is likely to be effective in helping children with diarrhea caused by rotavirus to recover earlier. L. acidophilus is possibly effective in treating diarrhea caused by travel, hospitalization, antibiotic treatment or chemotherapy; vaginal infections; colic; irritable bowel syndrome; Helicobacter pylori infections that cause stomach ulcers; and lung infections in children attending day care.
Bifidus Regularis Claims
According to the Federal Trade Commission, Dannon's advertising contained exaggerated health claims before a settlement reached in December 2010. Specifically, the FTC questioned claims that eating a single serving of Activia a day relieves bowel irregularity and that drinking DanActive prevents colds or the flu. Under the terms of the settlement, Dannon may not make these or any other claims about the health benefits of its yogurt or drinks without scientific evidence that the claims are true.