Many people eat yogurt with live, or active, cultures for the beneficial effects of those bacterial cultures on their digestive systems. Others choose to take probiotics rather than yogurt. We're going to look at the similarities and differences between these two sources of beneficial bacteria.
What they have in common
- Both yogurt and probiotics provide vast numbers of microorganisms that are beneficial to our digestive tracts.
- They both help improve digestive health.
- The friendly bacteria they contain can out-colonize harmful bacteria.
- Their beneficial effects depend on having enough of the friendly bacteria available at the same time so they can overpower the harmful bacteria. If the supply lags, the unfriendly bacteria can come surging back.
- The different bacteria they contain colonize specific parts of our digestive tracts.
- Environmental factors can affect how effective the bacteria will be. Exposure to light and oxygen are particularly damaging to them.
How they differ
- Probiotics typically contain more strains of bacteria than yogurt.
- The bacteria in probiotics can colonize more of your entire digestive tract. An enteric coating allows lactobacillus to reach the small intestine while the bifidobacterium makes it all the way to its favourite hangout, the colon!
- You have to eat more yogurt, and more often, to equal the bacteria in probiotics. Three servings every day are the minimum considered effective.
- Yogurt may be more susceptible to damaging environmental factors.
- Sometimes probiotics are linked with prebiotics that reduce the population of unfriendly bacteria in order to clear the way for easier colonization by the friendly bacteria.
- Probiotics won't bother someone who is lactose-intolerant.
Which should you choose: probiotics or yogurt?
If you enjoy yogurt, fermented foods like sauerkraut, and probiotic enhanced foods like certain juices, and can afford to eat them in the quantities needed, you might choose to stick with dietary sources of friendly bacteria. On the other hand, if you are lactose intolerant, or just don't want to eat all of your beneficial bacteria, you may prefer to take your daily dose in convenient supplements.
Whichever source you choose, please do make sure you ingest enough of the friendly bacteria to keep your digestive system active and healthy. Contact us if you need help choosing the right probiotics to help you 'Live Younger'.