By now, everyone’s heard the spiel about how probiotics — those “good” strains of bacteria — are good for us. But just because they’re good for us, and just because some yogurt companies have added them to their ingredient list doesn’t mean that we’re actually getting any benefits from eating them.
At least that’s the word on the street following a new Canadian study from the University of Toronto.
The study looked at different types of probiotic bacteria that have been added to various yogurts. And while these probiotic-filled containers should help to better digestion, lower cholesterol and improve overall heath, the study found that there weren’t nearly enough probiotics per serving to actually make a lick of difference. In fact, one serving of yogurt often had less than 25 per cent of probiotics that clinical trials found to be effective in the first place.
“Most people don’t realize that different products contain different types of probiotic bacteria and therefore may offer different health benefits,” said the study’s co-author and researcher Mary Scourboutakos. “Our study showed there’s a gap between the health benefits found in clinical trials and the benefits that consumers can expect to receive from the probiotic food products in the marketplace.”
In some cases, a person would have to eat up to 25 servings of yogurt a day in order to reap the promised benefits, which is completely unrealistic.
“Products are meeting the minimum standards to be called probiotics but we found that with higher doses some products could be doing much more,” added assistant professor Elena Comelli.
For now, if you want to use probiotics to improve medical conditions like irritable bowel syndrome or decrease your risk for the common cold, your best bet is to pop a pill — not a container of yogurt. Unless you’re just looking for a delicious snack. In that case, bottoms up.