Yakult is a yoghurt probiotic drink that has quickly risen in popularity amongst health-conscious individuals. With probiotics being touted as beneficial for gut health and overall well-being, it is no wonder that many are interested in trying out Yakult.
However, there is a lot of conflicting information about the health benefits and potential side effects of this drink. That is why we’ve compiled an extensive list of information to help you determine if Yakult is a good pick for you.
Table of contents:
What is Yakult?
Yakult is a dairy drink that was originally created in Japan. It is produced using a unique fermentation process which combines lactic acid bacteria and skimmed milk. The good bacteria in Yakult are of the well-known strain called Lactobacillus casei Shirota, discovered by Dr. Minoru Shirota, the founder of Yakult in 1930.
The main ingredients in Yakult include water, non-fat milk, sugar, and the L. casei Shirota strain. Yakult contains no fat, gluten, or cholesterol, and it is quite low in calories, with around 43 calories per 65ml bottle.
There are two main types of Yakult available, Yakult Original and Yakult Light. Both flavours of Yakult contain the same amount of the L. casei Shirota strain. However, Yakult Light also contains added vitamins D & E.
Moreover, Yakult Light has slightly less added sugar and fewer calories than the original flavour, with around 27 calories per 65ml bottle. This makes it a slightly healthier choice for those who don’t mind the lack of sweetness in its flavour.
Although it is not clear just how superior the addition of vitamins D and E may be to the original mixture, some studies find that supplementing vitamin D with a probiotic brings superior health benefits when compared to individual supplementation.
Health Benefits of Yakult
The health benefits of Yakult have been rapidly gaining recognition and for good reason. It seems that the good bacteria in Yakult could have many health-promoting effects, including better digestion, improved function of the immune system, better mental health, heart health, fewer infections and fewer flare-ups of IBS-like symptoms.
Promotes Healthy Digestion
Yakult has several potential health benefits, including positive effects on digestive system function. Numerous studies have shown that regular consumption of Yakult can improve digestion, thanks to the beneficial bacteria it contains. These good bacteria play a vital role in breaking down food and improving nutrient absorption, which, in turn, supports the immune system.
Enhances overall gut health
The gut is a crucial part of the body’s overall health, and Yakult plays a key role in enhancing its function. By introducing healthy bacteria into the gut, Yakult helps to restore the balance of good bacteria, which can become disrupted due to factors such as poor diet or medication use.
In fact, a six-week study conducted on elderly patients found that Yakult was effective in relieving constipation and diarrhea, while also promoting optimal stool consistency with no adverse reactions.
Strengthens the immune system
Yakult has also been shown to boost immune system function, primarily due to the presence of the L. casei Shirota strain, which stimulates T cell activation and provides a range of health benefits.
T cells are a type of white blood cell that play a crucial role in the immune system’s response to infections and diseases. When T cells are activated, they multiply and differentiate into different types of cells that can target and destroy specific pathogens.
This process is essential for fighting off infections and maintaining overall immune system health. The L. casei Shirota strain found in Yakult has been shown to specifically promote T cell activation, which can result in increased immune system function and potentially improve the body’s ability to fight off diseases.
This comes as no surprise, as probiotics in general have been widely studied for their potential to improve immune system function and provide protection against various diseases. In fact, some research suggests that regular consumption of probiotics may help reduce the frequency and severity of colds in adults who are prone to getting the flu.
Reduces irritable bowel syndrome symptoms
Managing IBS can be challenging, as the symptoms of this condition can vary significantly from person to person. However, with the right lifestyle changes and dietary modifications, individuals can effectively manage their symptoms and improve their overall quality of life.
In addition to lifestyle and dietary changes, research suggests that probiotics can also be helpful in managing IBS symptoms.
One study found that the L. casei Shirota strain, which is present in Yakult, had a modest yet significant positive impact on the management of IBS symptoms.
Improves mental health
In recent years, research has increasingly shown a connection between gut microbiota and various mood disorders. It has become clear that promoting a healthy balance of gut bacteria can have positive effects on mental health.
For example, a promising study found that the L. casei Shirota strain in Yakult may help alleviate stress-related responses in healthy individuals exposed to stressful situations. This suggests that probiotics, such as those found in Yakult, may hold the potential for improving mental health outcomes in addition to digestive health.
Yakult could also be beneficial in reducing the occurrence and intensity of infections, specifically upper respiratory tract infections. One study has found that consumption of the L. casei Shirota strain is beneficial in lowering the frequency of upper respiratory tract infections in athletes.
This finding was supported by another human trial, which found that regular intake of the L. casei Shirota strain reduced the risk of URTIs in healthy middle-aged office workers living normal, everyday lives.
These studies suggest that Yakult’s probiotics, specifically the L. casei Shirota strain, may play a beneficial role in bolstering immune system function and reducing the risk of URTIs. As such, Yakult may be a useful addition to the diet for those looking to improve their overall health and reduce the frequency of infections.
Promotes heart health
Maintaining optimal heart health can be a complex and challenging task, as there are many factors that can negatively impact cardiovascular function. One of the most common factors contributing to poor heart health is obesity and lack of physical activity.
Consuming probiotics, such as L. casei Shirota, may help to reduce metabolic abnormalities associated with obesity, such as cholesterol levels, and has beneficial effects on heart health, including a moderate reduction in blood pressure according to recent research.
It should be noted that the potential benefits of probiotics on heart health may vary depending on the specific strain of probiotics used. Different probiotic strains may be more effective for treating specific ailments or conditions, so it is important to choose probiotics that are appropriate for one’s individual needs.
Nonetheless, these findings suggest that probiotic supplementation, especially with strains like L. casei Shirota, may be a promising approach to supporting heart health and reducing metabolic abnormalities associated with obesity.
Improves lactose digestion in individuals with lactose intolerance
Not all probiotic dairy drinks may be suitable for those suffering from lactose intolerance. However, a four-week trial concluded that supplementing with the L. casei Shirota strain found in Yakult improved the symptoms associated with lactose intolerance. The beneficial effects also lasted for at least three months after terminating probiotic supplementation.
Helps treat yeast infections
Yakult could also be an excellent tool in tackling yeast infections. Specifically, the LcS bacteria strain found in Yakult has been shown to have antifungal properties against the Candida species responsible for causing yeast infections in women. In a study, the LcS strain inhibited Candida growth by 66.9% to 95.6%, making it a promising treatment option for most types of yeast infections.
Side Effects of Yakult
While Yakult claims to be free of harmful side effects, it is important to note that there may be some minor and common symptoms worth mentioning.
- Digestive issues – If you rarely take a probiotic supplement, drinking Yakult can temporarily put a greater load on your digestive system, causing bloating.
- Allergic reactions – For individuals with probiotic sensitivities, studies have reported mild allergic reactions such as a rash.
- Interaction with specific medications – Yakult claims not to have any adverse reactions when combined with any medications, but it should be taken at least 2 hours after antibiotics as per general recommendations for probiotic use
- Blood sugar spikes – Individuals with diabetes should track their daily sugar intake as Yakult does contain added sugars.
While side effects of drinking Yakult are not commonly reported, it is always best to be wary if you notice any symptoms that could resemble an allergic reaction. If you experience bloating when you first drink Yakult, it is recommended to lower the dose, but this is rarely a cause for concern and it quickly goes away after the digestive system gets used to the influx of good bacteria.
Recommended Yakult Intake
As a part of their regular diet, adults are recommended to drink one to two bottles of Yakult per day. Children and toddlers should not drink more than one bottle per day.
As previously mentioned, if you have any sensitivities to the ingredients in Yakult or suffer from a condition such as diabetes, it is necessary to take additional precautions to monitor your daily intake. Consulting your healthcare provider would be the best course of action if you have any concerns about drinking Yakult.
What is the best time to drink Yakult?
According to the official Yakult website, Yakult can be consumed at any time of day. However, taking probiotics on an empty stomach is generally recommended to maximize their effectiveness. For this reason, it is often suggested to drink Yakult in the morning, ideally 30-60 minutes before eating breakfast.
While drinking coffee or tea alongside Yakult is unlikely to interfere with the probiotics, it is worth noting that high temperatures can potentially kill off some of the beneficial bacteria. Therefore, it may be advisable to consume Yakult separately, before drinking any hot beverages such as coffee or tea, to ensure that the probiotics are not compromised.
Overall, the best time to drink Yakult may vary depending on individual preferences and routines, but taking it on an empty stomach in the morning could be a good starting point for most people.
The Bottom Line
Overall, Yakult is a rich source of dietary probiotics, making it a valuable addition to the diets of individuals who are suffering from digestive issues or general health deficiencies. Studies have demonstrated its various health benefits, such as promoting effective digestion, strengthening the immune system, reducing the risk of infections, and improving mental health, among others. Yakult may be particularly beneficial for individuals with constipation, IBS, upper respiratory tract infections, and yeast infections.
Side effects of Yakult are generally rare, with bloating being the most common one, which typically subsides quickly. However, individuals with diabetes or allergies may want to take additional precautions.
If someone is considering adding Yakult to their diet, it would be advisable to consult with their healthcare provider first and determine the best approach. Depending on the specific ailment, it may take longer for visible improvements to occur.