Probiotics are live bacteria that live in the human gut. They can alter or repopulate the gut bacteria to balance the gut flora. This is important for many health applications. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says that a healthy balance of gut bacteria has been shown to boost the immune system and help with irritable bowel syndrome.
Activia Lawsuit: Health Benefits Exaggerated?
The claims from popular probiotic-containing product producers such as Activia have been exaggerated in the past. There was even an Activia lawsuit in 2010 instigated by the Federal Trade Commission in which Dannon, the maker of Activia, agreed to drop the exaggerated health claims. Dannon agreed to end claims that Activia can relieve irregularity if eaten once a day.
The ads were shown to be deceptive by the FTC because there was no substantial evidence to support the claims being made. Moreover, the FTC charged Dannon with claiming health benefits that were proven to be false in clinical studies.
The ad had proclaimed that if Activia was eaten every day, it was proven to help cause digestive regulation within two weeks, because of the Bifidus regularis culture present in the product. The commission determined that this claim was not proven, and was thus deceitful.
Since this case, Activia has sponsored further studies and now makes the health claims that the Bifidobacterium lactis, found exclusively in this product, has been shown, in studies, to contribute to the relief of minor digestive discomforts. These discomforts include gas, bloating and rumbling. The site recommends consuming the yogurt product twice a day for two weeks.
Is Activia Yogurt Healthy?
The Dairy Council of California describes yogurt as being a good source of calcium, protein and potassium. Yogurt has many vitamins and minerals, while typically being low in calories.
The United States Department of Agriculture recommends low-fat dairy be included as part of a healthy balanced diet. The guidelines state that dairy intake is connected to increased bone health, particularly in children and adolescents.
Yogurt is also considered a healthful food in the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension). Three servings of low fat or fat-free dairy per day are recommended to help reduce incidences of heart disease and stroke.
Yogurt is a good source of probiotics. However, the Mayo Clinic explains that the several health claims have not been conclusively proven. Additionally, a February 2017 review of the literature in the journal Nutrients revealed that the number of viable studies is small and most are funded by the food industry and tested with much higher dosages than are typical for the actual products tested. The authors recommend further research in this area.
Activia Yogurt Side Effects
The Mayo Clinic reports that the side effects of probiotic-containing foods are rare, so healthy adults should not have problems adding them to their diet. The bacteria present in yogurts like Activia already exist within the body, and so are generally considered as safe.
The Cleveland Clinic describes possible symptoms like diarrhea, flatulence, and mild stomach upset as possible during the first few days of use. If you experience these or other symptoms that do not go away within a few days, speak to your doctor.
- Activia: "Homepage"
- WHO/FAO: "Probiotics in Food: Health and Nutritional Properties and Guidelines for Evaluation"
- Nutrition Today: "The Gut Microbiome and Its Role in Obesity"
- Clinics and Practice: "Gut Microbiota’s Effect on Mental Health: The Gut-Brain Axis"
- Dairy Council of California: "Nutrients in Yogurt"
- USDA: "2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans"
- Mayo Clinic: "What Are Probiotics and Prebiotics?"
- Nutrients: "Mismatch Between Probiotic Benefits in Trials Versus Food Products"
- Gut Pathogens: "Acne Vulgaris, Probiotics and the Gut-Brain-Skin Axis - Back to the Future?"
- Cleveland Clinic: "Probiotics"