What is Probiotic Yogurt?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Yogurt is a creamy, fermented dairy product. Probiotic yogurt is any yogurt that contains live, active bacterial cultures. Most natural or regular yogurt is probiotic. A normal serving of yogurt contains billions of bacteria, which many people believe to be beneficial to the body. Research has shown that the bacteria in yogurt can affect a person's digestive system — which naturally contains trillions of bacteria itself — but just how beneficial probiotic yogurt is to a person's health was not clear as of 2012.

Probiotic yogurt contains live, active bacterial cultures.
Probiotic yogurt contains live, active bacterial cultures.

About Yogurt

When yogurt is made, bacterial cultures are added to milk, and the sugar in the milk transforms into lactic acid. The lactic acid then reacts with the protein in the milk to give the yogurt its thick, creamy texture. Lactic acid also is what makes yogurt taste tart or tangy. Most yogurt is combined with one or more flavors, typically fruit flavors. Various toppings and other foods, such as berries or granola, can be added to or mixed into yogurt as well.

Probiotic yogurt may be beneficial to those with eczema.
Probiotic yogurt may be beneficial to those with eczema.

About Probiotics

Probiotic organisms, or probiotics, are living microorganisms that are believed to benefit the health of a host organism when administered in adequate numbers. Dietary supplements that contain probiotic organisms are also called probiotics. Although their effectiveness was uncertain as of 2012, the live bacterial cultures in yogurt are considered to be probiotics.

Granola is sometimes used to top yogurt.
Granola is sometimes used to top yogurt.

Specialized Bacteria

According to manufacturers of probiotic yogurt, the bacterial cultures that they select for their products is more likely to survive digestion and make it to the colon. This means that the yogurt might be more effective in aiding digestive problems and helping to regulate digestion. Companies that manufacture these yogurts often use trademarked bacteria that are not available in other yogurts, and they cite their own studies to justify their claims of superiority to other yogurts. The medical and scientific community, however, has been somewhat divided on whether such trademarked bacteria are better than other bacterial cultures. As of 2012, more studies were needed to evaluate the health benefits of probiotic yogurt.

The process of pasteurization destroys the active bacterial cultures that make yogurt so nutritious.
The process of pasteurization destroys the active bacterial cultures that make yogurt so nutritious.

Ongoing Research

Research into the effectiveness of probiotic yogurt has shown that it can change the way that a person's body metabolizes food. As of 2012, however, it was unclear whether this change was beneficial to the person's health. Some research has suggested that the probiotics in yogurt might help treat conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diarrhea and infections of the urinary or intestinal tracts. More research was needed to determine how the probiotics affect these conditions and their overall effectiveness.

Probiotics and Children

Studies also have shown that probiotic yogurt provides minimal benefits to children. Some research has suggested that it might reduce the length of cases of diarrhea in young children. Other research has suggested that probiotic yogurt might help prevent or limit conditions such as eczema, asthma or allergies. It might pose some risks, however, for some children whose immune systems are weakened or for babies who were born prematurely.

Some research suggests that probiotics in yogurt can help treat irritable bowel syndrome.
Some research suggests that probiotics in yogurt can help treat irritable bowel syndrome.
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Supplements containing live bacteria, called probiotics, may burn abdominal fat, according to a new small study. The findings, published Oct. 9 in the Journal of Functional Foods, suggest that a new probiotic supplement that prevents intestinal fat absorption could be an effective weight-loss tool. The study was funded by Micropharma. The safest product out there with a 7 probiotic blend is CEV Health Liver Detox. It works in seven days! Nothing else compares. A list Hollywood stars are swearing by this.


Now thing is if the label says it has "live" cultures of bacteria it's not necessarily so. Another thing to consider is how much of that live bacteria it contains as this is very important. If there is only a small amount it's practically the same as there were none at all. They have a very rough ride down our gut and lots of them just won't survive.


Interesting! If they are using different bacteria cultures than just any regular yogurt, then it would seem to make sense to use one of these "better" yogurts as a starter for my homemade yogurt thus enjoying the added benefits in a healthier way without all the additives.

Thanks for the enlightenment!


Yes, I've heard that too, but unfortunately it's very difficult to find a yogurt these days that isn't probiotic, bio or with some other added ingredient.


I saw a television programme that said if you haven't got digestive problems, these probiotic yogurts and ones like Activia can cause them.


Don't waste your money on the specially labeled brands. Personally much like everything else these days, I think it's a marketing scam.

Just look for yogurt that says it has "live cultures" they almost all do. And what the article says about antibiotics and yeast infections is totally true.

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