Your digestive tract is home to a population of microorganisms numbering in the trillions. The good bacterial strains that live in your gut—also known as your gut microbiome—play a key role in the proper functioning of everything from your immune system to your metabolism. Supporting your gut microbiome by introducing good bacteria into your digestive system is one of the best ways to support your body's overall health.
Probiotics are beneficial bacterial strains which can be found in a number of sources - but two, in particular, stand out thanks to their popularity: yogurt and probiotic supplements. Both help to augment your body's existing healthy bacteria population, and adding either to your daily routine is better than nothing. Head-to-head, however, which is more effective when it comes to introducing a broad range of probiotics to your body?
In short: probiotic supplements are more effective than yogurt at providing the optimal numbers and variety of probiotics—and here's why:
Why Yogurt Falls Short
While yogurt may help provide some level of digestive support and can be a delicious addition to any diet, it simply can't compete with the best probiotic supplements for women, men, and children. There are a number of factors that cause this dairy product to come up short in delivering both high numbers of probiotics and the right probiotic strains to benefit your digestive tract.
For starters, only a few types of probiotics naturally occur in yogurt. These strains—Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus, and Streptococcus Thermophilus—do provide certain health benefits, of course. However, with more than 500 different strains of probiotics in existence, your daily probiotic yogurt will fall far short of providing you with the best overall diversity of potentially-beneficial bugs.
Even though the strains of naturally-occurring probiotics in yogurt are beneficial, your yogurt may simply not have enough of it to be helpful. In order to receive the full benefit of probiotic potency, you’d need to eat more than a dozen yogurts to match the potency of an adult dose of LoveBug probiotics. In reviewing the current body of scientific research on the subject, one group of researchers at the University of Toronto found that many of the studies that touted yogurt's benefits were funded by the food industry itself and utilized probiotic doses that were as much as 25 times the amount actually in yogurt.
That's another key drawback of relying on yogurt as a probiotic source: the massive amounts of added sugar. Many studies have been conducted to investigate the effects of yogurt consumption directly on conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). What isn't necessarily apparent from the often-positive results of these studies, however, is that participants needed to eat yogurt two or three times every day in order to see any positive probiotic benefits, but the sugar consumption of that yogurt bender would only feed the bad bacteria in your gut - and who really wants to consume that much yogurt, anyway?
Probiotics and Yogurt
Finally, while some yogurts are probiotic-rich, many yogurts on the market have no active probiotic strains at all. Many of the pasteurization and sterilization processes that commercially-available yogurt is subjected to kills all the live microorganisms that otherwise naturally occur in yogurt. Even when yogurt does have live probiotics, the particular type of starter culture used to produce the yogurt can have a huge effect on how many active probiotic strains survive until you take that first bite. A study conducted by researchers at California Polytechnic State University found that the number of viable probiotic strains in different yogurts can be reduced exponentially if certain starter cultures are used.
In other words, you shouldn't assume that the yogurt you're eating has probiotics. Some yogurt brands (voluntarily) label their yogurts with the National Yogurt Association's "Live and Active Cultures" seal, which indicates that the yogurt has a minimum level of live lactic acid bacteria—but this seal isn't required to be used, and even when it is, the numbers and variety of probiotics in the yogurt can still be insufficient to confer all the potential health benefits.
And as we’ve already mentioned, many yogurts have high amounts of high fructose corn syrup, processed sugar, and other less-than-healthy ingredients that can mess with your gut. So it becomes clear: eat yogurt as a treat but take a probiotic supplement for your populating the beneficial bacteria in your gut.
More Potent Probiotic Foods
Kefir, another fermented milk product, has many important nutrients and far more probiotic cultures compared to yogurt to help aid and balance your gut bacteria. Kefir has 30 types of probiotic yeasts and beneficial bacteria—that's approximately three times the number of probiotic cultures compared to yogurt! It also a great source of protein, calcium, and potassium and is effective in reducing a whole host of digestive issues, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, and even seen to be helpful in treating UTIs and vaginal infections.
Another probiotic food you may want to give a try is buttermilk. Aside from being a great source of probiotics, buttermilk also has essential nutrients such as vitamins, enzymes, carbohydrates, and proteins. Because it is so high in water content, it also helps keep you stay hydrated and improve digestion. Check out our post, What Do Probiotics and Water Have in Common, if you are interested in more about that.
What to Look For in Your Probiotic Supplement
While taking a probiotic supplement can be more effective than yogurt at introducing all that beneficial bacteria into your digestive system, keep in mind that not all supplements are created equal. Your probiotic supplement can beat yogurt's probiotic benefits if you pick one that displays certain key characteristics.
The number of live bacterial strains in the supplement is obviously a key factor in its efficacy. The bare minimum amount of bacteria needed to be considered effective is 1 billion colony forming units (also known as CFUs) per day. If the supplement you're considering doesn't list the number of CFUs it has, there's reason for concern: testing company ConsumerLab.com found that many of the probiotic supplements they tested that did not specify their CFUs with live bacteria numbering in just the thousands, which is far too little be effective.
The specific types of bacteria in the supplement is also important, as different strains can help with different health concerns. For example, Lactobacillus acidophilus has been shown to reduce cholesterol, while Lactobacillus plantarum has proven effective in reducing the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Other strains have been shown to improve immune function, reduce inflammation, combat the effects of diarrhea, and more. Finding a supplement that has the right diversity of strains to address your particular health issues is key to getting the biggest benefit from your probiotic.
The delivery system that a probiotic supplement uses is equally important as the number and variety of live cultures the supplement has. Why? It's simple: while many supplements cite the number of organisms they have at the point when they were manufactured, this number is meaningless if the supplement's delivery system doesn't protect the strains from the harsh and acidic environment of your stomach. Without a proper delivery system, many types of probiotic bacteria are killed off by the stomach acids before they can reach your intestinal tract and start to colonize your gut. This is why the number of viable microorganisms that your supplement can introduce to your gut microbiome is the key number to consider.
LoveBug Probiotics have 15 times more survivability than standard capsules thanks to our patented, scientifically proven delivery technology, BIO-tract®. That means our probiotic supplements are uniquely equipped to support gut health to the fullest extent and provide numerous other health benefits.
What Makes Our Probiotic Supplements Different?
For many people, other factors can be a consideration when choosing a probiotic that may not directly influence the supplement's effectiveness but can increase the likelihood that they'll be able to maintain it as part of their daily routine.
The presence of unnecessary additives is increasingly concerning to many American consumers. We’re picky here at LoveBug - because we’re passionate moms. Similarly, we invite you to take a look to see if the probiotic supplement you're considering has ingredients such as gluten, soy, sugar, nuts, dairy or GMO’s. LoveBug probiotics are free of all these additives, allergens, and unwanted ingredients.
Lastly, some probiotic supplements must be refrigerated to keep their strains alive, but ours are shelf-stable at room temperature. If you can't reliably keep your probiotic refrigerated until you take it, question the efficacy. LoveBug probiotics do not need to be refrigerated due to our BIO-tract® technology.
Remember: your probiotic supplement is more effective than a cup of yogurt, but only if you take it on a daily basis.
The benefits of probiotics are both cumulative and vast. At LoveBug, we've created specific probiotics for the whole family. We’ve created probiotics for all ages and stages - because we want you to feel good from the inside out!
Feel the LoveBug Difference
Protect and nurture the health of your whole family with LoveBug Probiotics.
Chiang BL, Sheih YH, Wang LH, Liao CK, Gill HS (2000). Enhancing immunity by dietary consumption of a probiotic lactic acid bacterium (Bifidobacterium lactis HN019): optimization and definition of cellular immune responses. Eur J Clin Nutr 54, 849–855.
Hungin APS, Chang L, Locke GR et al. Irritable bowel Syndrome in the United States: Prevalence, symptoms patterns and impact. Aliment Pharmacol Ther 2005;21:1365–1375.
Scourboutakos, M.J.; Franco-Arellano, B.; Murphy, S.A.; Norsen, S.; Comelli, E.M.; L’Abbé, M.R. Mismatch between Probiotic Benefits in Trials versus Food Products. Nutrients 2017, 9, 400.