A new study tries to navigate the real benefits of yogurt containing this food trend.
Posted: Apr 18, 2017
Probiotic yogurt benefits vary, study finds
Results should be interpreted with caution, co-author warns
It’s a daunting aisle in the supermarket, filled with tubs of yogurt. Before you grab one, keep in mind that not all probiotic products are equal, according to a new study.
Mary Scourboutakos, a postdoctoral researcher, was inspired to study probiotic yogurt when she was trying to figure out what to eat. Her study, published Wednesday in the journal Nutrient, starts to provide some clues.
“What we wanted to do with this study is cut through the hype,” Scourboutakos said.
What are probiotics?
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria added to food products. They were originally studied to restore the balance of gut microbes after taking antibiotics. Now probiotic yogurts are promoted to help digestion and even improve specific conditions.
To find out what probiotics are in which product, and how much there actually is, Scourboutakos and her co-authors searched a national database of product labels that covers three-quarters of the grocery market share in Canada.
To make the basic claim “promotes a healthy gut flora” in Canada, a yogurt needs to contain one billion units of probiotics. The study’s authors say that minimum standard was met.
To look for potential additional benefits beyond gut health, the researchers looked through 29 randomized clinical trials on various health effects, ranging from preventing the common cold, to reducing cavity-causing bacteria among healthy populations.
Most studies funded by probiotic makers
Most of the studies were funded by probiotic makers. Some results also need to be interpreted with caution, said study co-author Elena Comelli, an assistant professor of nutritional sciences at the University of Toronto.
Comelli pointed to four additional potential benefits:
- Improving intestinal health.
- Crowding out harmful bacteria.
- Preventing the common cold.
- Helping with irritable bowel syndrome symptoms.