The Ultimate Guide to Understanding Yakult Benefits, Price, and Side Effects
Yakult is a popular probiotic drink containing the unique Lactobacillus casei Shirota (LcS) bacterial strain. This comprehensive guide will explore the health benefits, side effects, price, and proper consumption of Yakult to help you understand if adding it to your diet could improve your overall well-being.
What is Yakult?
Yakult is a fermented milk drink that contains over 6.5 billion live Lactobacillus casei Shirota (LcS) probiotic bacteria in each 65ml bottle.
It was developed in 1930s Japan by microbiologist Dr. Minoru Shirota after years of research on lactic acid bacteria and their beneficial effects on human health. His studies led him to isolate the unique LcS probiotic strain, which forms the basis of Yakult.
Probiotics are live microorganisms that are believed to provide health benefits when consumed by improving the balance of gut bacteria. An imbalance of bacteria in your digestive system has been linked to several health issues.
Therefore, regularly consuming probiotic-rich foods like Yakult may help restore healthy gut flora, support your immune system, improve digestion, enhance nutrient absorption, and more.
Over 40 million bottles of Yakult are consumed across the world each day, making it one of the most popular probiotic drinks globally. It’s widely available at grocery stores and convenience shops in single-serve 65ml bottles.
Varieties of Yakult
There are a few different varieties of Yakult available:
- Contains water, sugar, skim milk powder, glucose syrup, and LcS probiotics
- 65 calories per bottle
- 9g total sugars
- Sweetened with sucralose instead of sugar
- 40 calories per bottle
- 5g total sugars
Both varieties contain the same 6.5 billion count of the proprietary LcS probiotic strain per bottle along with vitamins and minerals like calcium, zinc, and vitamin D.
Yakult Light has 25 fewer calories and less sugar, making it a better choice for those limiting sugar intake or managing diabetes.
Benefits of Consuming Yakult
As a probiotic-rich drink, Yakult offers several evidence-based health benefits:
1. Improves Digestive and Gut Health
The LcS strain in Yakult can survive stomach acid to reach the intestines alive where it balances gut flora. Consuming Yakult may:
- Increase short-chain fatty acid production
- Inhibit harmful gut bacteria like Clostridium difficile
- Reduce digestive issues like constipation, diarrhea and IBS
- Improve lactose tolerance
In one study, people with chronic constipation drank 65ml of Yakult daily. After 2 weeks, they experienced significantly increased bowel movements.
2. Supports Immune Health
Probiotics stimulate antibody production and strengthen immunity against pathogens. Drinking Yakult may:
- Reduce risk of contracting viral infections
- Shorten duration of infections
- Increase activity of natural killer immune cells
In a clinical trial, seniors taking Yakult had 33% fewer influenza infections over 12 weeks compared to the control group.
3. Aids Mental Health
Your gut and brain share a strong connection. Consuming Yakult may help:
- Alleviate symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression
- Improve mood and cognitive function
- Reduce inflammation influencing mental health
Research finds that 1-2 months of LcS supplementation significantly reduces psychological distress while increasing antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids.
4. Other Potential Benefits
Early research shows promise for Yakult improving bone density, blood pressure regulation, dermatitis symptoms, allergies, and even dental health.
More studies are underway, but the unique LcS bacteria in Yakult may have wide-ranging probiotic effects throughout the body.
Potential Side Effects of Drinking Yakult
For most people, drinking Yakult is safe and well-tolerated. However, some may experience temporary adjustment side effects when introducing probiotics through Yakult into their diet such as:
- Stomach rumbling
- Mild nausea
- Loose stools
These digestive symptoms usually go away within 1-2 weeks as your gut microflora adjusts and adapts to the influx of new probiotic bacteria.
Sugar alcohols in Yakult Light may also cause digestive discomfort in some people. Limit intake to one small bottle per day and monitor personal tolerance.
Rarely, probiotics may trigger headaches, fatigue, dizziness, or skin reactions. Stop consuming Yakult if you experience persistent or severe side effects and consult your doctor.
Who Should Not Consume Yakult?
While generally safe for most healthy adults and children over 1 year old, speak with your doctor before incorporating daily Yakult if you have:
- Weakened immune system – rare fungal infections are possible
- Short bowel syndrome
- Catheter use putting you at higher infection risk
- Severe lactose intolerance – Yakult contains dairy
Yakult is not a medical food intended to treat disease or health conditions. Consult your physician before using Yakult medicinally.
If pregnant, moderate pasteurized Yakult intake to one bottle daily as part of balanced diet and check with your OB-GYN.
What Does Yakult Taste Like?
Yakult has a mildly sweet, creamy, tangy taste from the unique blend of skim milk powder and the cultures used to ferment it. The smooth, yogurt-like texture comes from the milk proteins.
The LcS bacteria provide Yakult’s distinctive mild sour flavor. It is pleasant-tasting overall, making it easy and enjoyable to drink daily. Kids love it too!
Yakult Light tastes sweeter thanks to the non-nutritive sweeteners, yet retains the tangy flavor.
When and How Should I Drink Yakult?
- Frequency: Consume one 65ml bottle of Yakult daily for optimal probiotic benefits and digestive health
- Timing: Drink Yakult about 30 minutes before or after a meal as closer proximity to food can diminish probiotic potency
- Preparation: Shake the bottle well before opening and consume immediately at room temperature or chilled
- Storage: Refrigerate after opening and finish within 7-10 days. Unopened bottles stored refrigerated maintain highest potency for about 2 months. The live cultures are sensitive to heat and light.
You can certainly enjoy Yakult as an on-the-go probiotic boost! But drinking it at a consistent time daily offers the best advantage to your gut microbiome balance and digestive rhythm.
Does Adding Yakult to Food Work?
While Yakult offers probiotic advantages when consumed just as the liquid drink, you can incorporate it as an ingredient into smoothies, yogurt parfaits, oatmeal, sauces, desserts, and more for a flavor and gut health boost!
However, heating Yakult may destroy some of the beneficial live LcS bacteria. So for the most probiotic benefits, add chilled Yakult to already prepared cold foods rather than cooking with it.
Yakult for Children
Yakult can be a nutritious addition to a child’s balanced diet starting around 1 year old. The smaller bottle size makes portion control and consumption easy.
The probiotics in Yakult may strengthen immunity during cold season. The calcium also aids growing bones.
However, the sugar content is something to be mindful of in little ones. Introduce the Light version instead once kids are older. Moderating overall sugar intake is important.
Comparison to Other Probiotic Drinks
Yakult stands out for its high 6.5 billion per bottle bacteria count focused on just the single premium LcS probiotic strain. Other cultured dairy drinks often contain less probiotics or a mix of various strains.
Compared to yogurt, Yakult offers portability and a strain selected specifically to survive stomach acid. But yogurt provides protein and more diverse cultures.
Kombucha has different probiotics not focused on gut transit. Kefir has more protein but usually less probiotics than Yakult. They make good rotational alternatives though between Yakult for diversity.
No head-to-head studies prove LcS superiority. But Yakult devotees praise its consistent production process and research backing the unique strain’s benefits.
Talk to your doctor or nutritionist about your gut goals to determine whether Yakult works for your needs or if alternative probiotics may be better. Personalized guidance is best!
Is Yakult Worth the Price? Cost Breakdown
A single 65ml bottle of Yakult costs between $1-$3 USD depending on location. Some economic and bulk pack options are available offering minor discounts.
Compared to other functional beverages, Yakult is affordable, especially considering the specialized high-count probiotic content.
Breaking down the per-bottle price:
- Expected shelf life of 2 months refrigerated
- 30-60 servings per container
- ~2 cents per bottle – excellent value provided consistently for gut health!
As a splurge-worthwhile, daily, one-bottle dose investment towards overall wellness, Yakult offers science-backed probiotic advantages at a fair price point for most budgets.
Yakult Production and Company Background
Yakult is produced globally by Yakult Honsha corporation headquartered in Tokyo, Japan following strict standards at a specially controlled facility.
Using advanced freeze-drying techniques, concentrated LcS bacteria from Japan are shipped to production plants worldwide where they’re revived and used to ferment Yakult using quality ingredients under strict hygienic control. Multiple safety checks ensure optimal probiotic delivery.
This specialized process makes Yakult widely accessible while maintaining its signature probiotic content. Although created in Japan using traditional methods, today over 32 countries produce and distribute Yakult.
Fun fact – Yakult Ladies were Japan’s original door-to-door direct marketing system started in 1963 to educate consumers about Yakult’s benefits!
The Science Behind Yakult and Probiotics
Dr. Minoru Shirota pioneered early probiotic research in the 1930s by isolating LcS, a superior strain of Lactobacillus bacteria from human intestine samples.
He patented LcS for its unique acid and bile tolerance allowing gut transit survival to deliver probiotic advantages, a key strain difference. Later microbiota studies found Shirota’s cultures efficiently achieve intestinal colonization and competitive exclusion of pathogens.
Modern advances allow closer examination of gut microbiome interactions, with mounting research on probiotics and mechanisms underlying observed immune, mental, and metabolic health correlations.
While more human trials are underway,ANTLRearly findings suggest Yakult’s LcS bacteria positively influence microbiota ecosystems, suppress pathogens, limit inflammation, and enhance mucosal barriers through microbiome cross-talk along the gut-brain axis.
Multiple randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled human trials demonstrate Yakult’s benefits:
- Elevated secretory IgA levels protecting against viruses
- Improved constipation symptoms in 38% of functional patients
- Reduced abdominal discomfort, bloating, anxiety, and cortisol
- Lower LDL and blood pressure
- Increased bone mineral density markers
Yakult commits extensive funding towards continuous LcS and probiotic research to further understand microflora interplay and the strain’s mechanisms towards realizing Shirota’s vision for unlocking probiotics’ shielding effects globally.
Criticisms and Controversies Surrounding Yakult
As a supplement company profiting from probiotic health claims, Yakult confronts skepticism regarding aspects of its products and marketing tactics:
Strain Variety: Some criticize relying on only the single LcS probiotic strain versus diverse options. But research confirms Shirota’s cultures efficiently colonize gut niches.
Sugar Content: While reasonable compared to juices or soda, with the Light version also available, some argue less added sugars would be beneficial.
Probiotic Count: 6.5 billion sounds impressively high. But viable counts reaching intestines may be lower, with limited studies tracking transit survival.
Benefit Claims: Critics argue more research in humans over longer periods is needed to substantiate far-reaching wellness assertions tied to immune, digestion, mood and chronic disease prevention advantages.
Targeting Children: Marketing flavored milky drinks daily to kids raises nutritional concerns over developing preferences for sweetened beverages rather than balanced whole foods.
As with any supplement promising health enhancement, educated consumers should objectively weight advantages against critical viewpoints when determining if adding Yakult fits their nutritional needs and approach towards wellness.
Conclusion: Should I Drink Yakult?
With trillions of bacteria occupying the healthy gut microbiome, probiotics offer immense influence potential! LcS, the exclusive strain in Yakult, exhibits multiple mechanisms that may confer advantages to human physiology and disease prevention.
For optimizing daily digestion, regularity, immunity and possibly mental health, the affordable, convenient and rather tasty Yakult beverage gives you a solid 6.5 billion boost towards elevating good gut flora.
While more research is underway, the overall safety plus existing evidence of benefits for most individuals makes enjoying Yakult reasonable as part of balanced nutrition and a healthy lifestyle.
If you struggle with digestive issues, allergies, stress or feel rundown, a summit with your trusted healthcare provider to craft a personalized probiotic plan is wise. Yakult just may offer you the right edge towards revitalizing your microbiome fortress!
Key Takeaways: Evaluating Yakult as a Gut Health Booster
- Yakult contains high levels of the extensively researched LcS probiotic strain believed to offer advantages for gut health, immunity, digestion, and mental wellness
- Minor temporary digestive side effects may occur when first introducing Yakult; severe reactions are uncommon
- Choosing Yakult Light reduces sugar intake; those monitoring carbs or calories may prefer the lower calorie option
- An affordable probiotic drink, Yakult offers a fair price for convenient daily consumption towards total body wellness
- Pair Yakult with other probiotic foods like yogurt, kefir and fermented options for maximum microbial diversity
- Discuss with your healthcare provider if Yakult suits your personalized nutrition needs as a cost-effective gut-boosting addition supporting whole body wellness
Let us know in the comments your experiences drinking Yakult! We would love to hear your thoughts.