People everywhere are talking about yakult, but what is this probiotic drink and is it healthy? Read on to find out if you should be drinking yakult or passing on this new trend.
What is yakult?
Yakult is a fermented dairy probiotic drink that was originally created in Japan in 1935. It has a sweet, citrusy flavor and comes in a pack of 5 small plastic bottles that are topped with a distinctive red or blue foil lid.
The brand recommends that adults drink 1-2 bottles of Yakult daily and children over 8 months old can drink 1 bottle daily in order to maintain the presence of the probiotics in the digestive tract, since the bacteria do not colonize your intestines.
It is important to note that since Yakult is a dairy product, people who are lactose intolerant should avoid drinking the probiotic drink.
In addition, people who are not used to consuming probiotics may experience bloating during the first week of consumption as the body gets used to their presence in the digestive tract.
Is yakult healthy?
There are two options for Yakult products, so let’s dig into each.
Yakult Original (with the red label) is a fat-free, gluten-free, cholesterol-free probiotic beverage.
Each bottle of Yakult Original contains:
- 50 calories
- 15 mg sodium
- 12 grams carbs
- 10 grams sugar (9 of which are added sugars)
With 9 grams of added sugar in such a tiny bottle, the original version may not be the best choice for people who have diabetes or are conscious of their blood sugar levels. This is especially true if you are drinking two bottles per day, as some people do. Luckily, there is another option…
Yakult Light (with the blue label) is also fat-free, gluten-free, and cholesterol-free. The main difference between the two is that there are fewer calories and added sugars in the Light version. The lower sugar is due to it being sweetened with a stevia extract.
Each bottle of Yakult Light contains:
- 25 calories
- 15 mg sodium
- 6 grams carbs
- 2 grams fiber
- 3 grams sugar (1 of which is added sugar)
There is still some sugar present because it naturally occurs in milk. Sugar is also required for fermentation to take place, which keeps the bacteria alive. The lower amount of sugar makes Yakult Light a better option for people who are focusing on blood sugar management.
Aside from the nutritional content, we also need to focus on the reason people are drinking Yakult to begin with: probiotics.
Probiotic content of Yakult
Probiotics are “good bacteria” that impart health benefits when consumed, including keeping the “bad bacteria” at bay and keeping your digestive system healthy.
You can get probiotics from yogurt, fermented foods, and in supplement form. Many people are reaching for the tiny bottle of Yakult each morning as their main choice in probiotics, as it contains over 8 billion CFUs (colony forming units).
The strain present in Yakult is called Lactobacillus casei Shirota, which may have benefits including:
- Reduces diarrhea associated with antibiotic use
- Eases constipation
- Reduces inflammation in people with rheumatoid arthritis
- Mitigates stress by reducing cortisol secretion
So, there is evidence that consuming this specific probiotic strain can help regulate your digestive system, keep you regular, and it may even help to reduce stress.
On top of that, probiotics in general have been shown to help with blood sugar control. This is great news for people with diabetes, especially if consumed with some of my other favorite blood sugar reducing foods.
Stay tuned, because even more research is being conducted to study more possible benefits of consuming Yakult probiotic drink and other probiotics.
How does yakult probiotic drink differ from yogurt?
While Yakult and yogurt are both fermented dairy products, Yakult is not the same thing as yogurt.
The primary difference is that Yakult contains a different probiotic strain than yogurt, that is acid-resistant and is therefore still alive once it reaches the intestines, where it is able to confer its health benefits.
And not all brands of yogurt contain live and active probiotic cultures. This means that you may not get the benefits of probiotics from consuming regular yogurt. If you choose yogurt for the probiotic content, be sure to read the label and check for the seal from the National Yogurt Association to ensure the presence of active cultures.
Another massive difference is that Yakult is a thinner consistency and is meant to be consumed as a beverage, whereas yogurt is thicker and typically spoonable and less beverage-like. Yakult can be consumed within seconds as it is such a small serving size. So, the experience of eating yogurt versus Yakult is pretty different.
Where can you buy yakult?
You can find Yakult probiotic drink at most grocery stores, including Walmart and Costco. These distinctive probiotic beverages are usually found in the refrigerated dairy section alongside your typical yogurt and kefir.
When you are too busy to go shopping yourself, Instacart and Amazon are also great options for getting your Yakult fix.
If for some reason you are having trouble finding Yakult products, you can always make use of the product locator on the Yakult website.
Final verdict: Should I drink yakult?
In the end, whether you drink Yakult is up to you. Overall, opting for the version that is lower in sugar and calories (Yakult Light) may be a better choice for most people.
If you like the taste of Yakult and you feel like it is helpful in keeping your digestion regular, then keep on drinking it. But if you don’t like the taste or if drinking Yakult makes you feel worse… then this probiotic beverage is probably not a good choice for you.
In addition, if you have digestive troubles after consuming probiotics, something else may be going on, so speak with your doctor or dietitian to get to the root of the problem.
Yakult is definitely not your only option for probiotics, and there are many other strains that have similar proven health benefits. If you prefer to take a capsule or mix a powder with water to get your probiotics in, then by all means, continue to do so!
But please remember that probiotics aren’t the only thing that matters when it comes to your digestive health. Eating a balanced diet with sufficient fiber and getting in some movement each day are also key to obtaining better digestive (and overall) health.