I love yoghurt; with honey, crumble, on curry or straight from the pot. With the Denone adverts telling you that all women need Bifidus Acti-whatever-Regularis to get rid of their bloating issues and that those ridiculous mini yoghurt drinks improve your digestive system, it’s understandable why so many people fall for the gimmick of what effectively is a trademarked strain of a specific bacteria they use in their products.
Danone, known as Dannon in the US (why?) claims that their special bacteria aids digestion. Reading into their claims a little further I have found out some interesting facts about their branding and marketing strategy. The name of the bacteria changes depending on which country you are in and so do its effects. For example, the Canadian Activia website who call the bacterium “Bifidobacterium Lactis” claim many beneficial effects but say it can “possibly act on intestinal transit” whereas the UK website promises, “When eaten every day, Activia is scientifically proven to help improve slower digestive transit”.
In Germany and Austria the bacterium is marketed as “Digestivum Essensis”, both of which are invented words. The use of latinate endings suggest a scientific derivation which leads people to believe it’s a real thing.
Two cultures organisms Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus, are required to make yogurt but these are killed in heat- treated yoghurts. Some makers than add bacteria back into yoghurt so that they can market it as ‘live’ yoghurt or ‘probiotic’ yogurt.
In fact there is no hard evidence that live yoghurt has any positive effects at all. Some studies show improved digestion and some have shown reduction in diarrhoea of patients taking antibiotics but it’s still being studied. Some people claim that eating Activia yoghurts gives them stomach cramps and even diarrhoea. .
From my research I’m not yet convinced of the health benefits but will continue to eat live yoghurt regularly, mainly because I like it and it is easy to make. I will continue to boycott little yoghurt drinks that cost more than a tub of the equivalent weight and those with made up names that sound sciency to make me think they are real!
So which yoghurt do I eat?
Take a trip down to Tesco and you will find all the yoghurts, as you expect, shelved together near the milk section. Usually the selection packs of individual yogurts are on your left and the bigger tubs on your right.
The standard size for a tub seems to be 500g and you have a choice from Activia, Yeo, Onken and Tesco’s own label among a few others.
The Onken pot costs £1, the Activia pot will cost you £1.20 and Yeo is between the two at £1.10. With prices so similar and the pot sizes the same, surely it’s just matter of preference. Well, it doesn’t have to be.
Take a walk down the ‘world foods’ isle and look out for Henna yogurt. For the same price as the Yeo pot you get double, yes DOUBLE the amount of yoghurt. That’s 1kg of yoghurt that, to me, tastes exactly the same and is as live as any of the well known brands that are robbing you in broad daylight. The only drawback you may find is fitting it in the fridge.
PS. Do you eat probiotic yoghurt and feel the benefits, or does
it leave you feeling more bloated?