The Activia Challenge…

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Probiotic dairy supplementation…it is a current, lucrative, rising star in the food world.  We have all heard the commercials challenging consumers to “take the Activia challenge…” or that you can “feel better in 10 days” by consuming some sort of probiotic supplement.  Most probiotic supplements these days come in a yogurt-base; often touted as low-fat or flavoured with some sort of fruit concentrate.  Some come in the form of bars.  Others are drinkable.  Some look like plain old yogurt.   

As an aside, many of the current yogurt based probiotic supplements come in the form of no-sugar-added low-fat yogurt cups.  The funny part of this is that these yogurts are often sweetened with artificial sugars.  Splenda, or sucralose, is known to kill good intestinal bacteria…and probiotic supplementation is recommended to replace the good bacteria.  Talk about a self-licking ice cream cone!  Other artificial sweeteners are known carcinogens.   

Despite the hype, I have decided to supplement my diet with at least one cup of yogurt per day…sometimes I use the “super shot” type of yogurt drinks, many of which contain beneficial plant sterols that can reduce cholesterol or blood pressure…or I will eat something like Yo!  by Yoplait which is natural yogurt with beneficial probiotic strains.   I have also increased my fiber intake, mainly through eating fiber-rich bread or by eating stuff like Kellogg’s All Bran.  To cap off my digestive health regimen, I started taking probiotic supplement capsules too. 

You have to be careful with probiotic supplements.  Many of them tout “billions of viable organisms” but indicate via asterisk that these numbers were derived “at time of manufacture.”  So you may be taking gelatin, magnesium stearate and titanium dioxide capsules with little or no health benefit.  I personally chose Swanson Signature Line Ultimate Probiotic Formula.  This is a full spectrum supplement versus a single-strain solution (like the popular yogurt varieties). 

Have I seen a difference?  Yes.  Regularity and normalcy is one big benefit.  An improvement in lactose intolerance.  A decreased risk of digestive system cancers is another benefit I am banking on.  But I have not seen a decrease in the amount of times I have had a common cold, or any other health benefits.  Overall, I think probiotic supplementation is just another facet of a well-rounded lifestyle.

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One response »

  1. Also, for those interested, health food stores sell capsules that contain a broad spectrum of bacteria that usually colonize one’s instestinal tract. As John mentions… Sucralose (i.e. Splenda) has a nasty effect of reducing the amount of bacteria in person’s system by half. I know some people use these sweetners who have problems with diabetes, etc. … which means that doing one of these food therapies is important. I keep trying to tell this to my mom… but in her book it is just so much hooey… a new age pseudo-science… after all, she has not dropped dead yet! I take the supplment… and it helps with digestion and a bunch of other related problems. I feel overall, more robust in my digestive abilities… and the notion of taking a supplement, in my opinion, is wise.

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