What do probiotics do?

I’ve always enjoyed yogurt. Mixed with half a banana and a little granola, it’s one of my favorite breakfasts.

Lately I’ve noticed that the array of yogurt selection in the dairy aisle has become mind numbing. There are containers touting “all natural” and “trans-fat free” and “no sugar added” and, the most recent, “probiotic.” I counted 14 different selections of yogurt yesterday while grocery shopping. And to think that all I used to choose from was flavour!

I am not sure why the manufacturers of yogurt decided that the average consumer should know what probiotics are and why they should like them in their yogurt. So, I did a little research and found this: essentially “probiotic” means that the good bacteria are living and present in the yogurt. The good bacteria has been credited for everything from cancer prevention to better immune functions but studies have been inconclusive on any of these.
Essentially the best benefit I could find for probiotic yogurt is easy digestion in some individuals, even those who are lactose intolerant. Some studies found that children suffering from chronic diarrhea recover faster when fed yogurt with probiotic cultures. Adults suffering from traveler’s diarrhea also seem to benefit.

I couldn’t find any article that suggests probiotics could be bad for you but many benefits aren’t proven. I’m going to continue to choose the flavour and texture I like best, and also avoid too much sugar. If the winning yogurt happens to also be probiotic, excellent.

Author by Kristin Scott