Probiotic yogurt and yogurt with live bacterial cultures – differences


A probiotic product is by definition a product containing a sufficiently high number of selected bacterial or yeast cultures with proven probiotic activity, which change through the implantation or colonization of the intestinal microflora in specific segments of the host organism and thus exert a beneficial effect on its health. Probiotic bacteria are those that, when ingested in the right amount, of a particular type, species and strain, have health benefits in people who have consumed them. They are not all species and strains of bacteria of the genus Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, Streptococcus or Enterococcus. Probiotic organisms include the aforementioned probiotic yeast – Saccharomyces boulardii. 


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The source of probiotics are pharmaceutical preparations, dietary supplements as well as food products (yoghurts). The already mentioned strain of a given species of bacteria and yeast corresponds to the probiotic properties. Probiotic bacterial strains restore the natural state of the intestinal microflora by competing for a place of living with harmful and pathogenic bacteria. What are the health effects of consuming probiotic yogurts? Is every natural yogurt a probiotic one? What is the difference between probiotic yogurt and yogurt with live bacterial cultures? Can pickled vegetables also be considered probiotic?

What conditions must bacterial and yeast strains meet to be considered probiotic? 

Strains considered as probiotic must meet a number of conditions such as 

– Non-production of toxic metabolites harmful to humans 

– Isolation from the human body 

– Resistance to low pH of gastric juice, enzymes and resistance to bile 

– Easy to settle the digestive tract 

– Showing the ability to adhere to epithelial cells in the gastrointestinal tract 

– Showing documented beneficial effects on human health 

– Listing of antagonistic activity to pathogenic and pathogenic bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract 

The mechanism of action and functions of probiotics 

Probiotics have the same properties and functions as intestinal microorganisms, which have a positive effect on health. The protective function is based on the antagonistic action of pathogenic bacteria and other pathogens by adhering to the intestinal mucosa, as well as the production of compounds with bactericidal activity. Probiotic bacteria compete with pathogens for nutrients. The digestive function of probiotics is based on the synthesis of vitamin K, B vitamins and on increasing the amount of digestive enzymes. The anti-cancer function consists in the elimination of mutagenic compounds and carcinogenic enzymes. In addition, probiotics play an immunological role by stimulating the immune system. 

Probiotics in the prevention and treatment of diseases 

Probiotics have a number of health and therapeutic properties. The beneficial activity includes 

– treatment of diarrhea of various substrates, 

– prevention of tumors of the digestive system, 

– supporting the immune system, 

– treatment of Helicobacter pylori bacteria, 

– lowering cholesterol, 

– destruction of bacteria that show resistance to antibiotics. 

Health effects of selected probiotic strains 

To distinguish what kind, species and strain is, let’s analyze the first example – the genus is Lactobacillus, the species is casei, the strain is Shirota. 

Lactobacillus casei Shirota – is used to treat rotavirus diarrhea, helps to balance intestinal microflora and protects against food mutagens. 

Lactobacillus plantarum 299v 

– compete for receptors or adherence to epithelial cells, preventing access of pathogens to the intestinal epithelium. 

Lactobacillus johnsonii LA1 – inhibition of Helicobacter pylori growth. 

Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG – used for ulcerative colitis, reduces the severity and extent of atopic dermatitis, prevents diarrhea associated with the use of antibiotics. 

Lactobacillus casei rhamnosus Lcr35 – the treatment of functional constipation. 

Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFB 1748 – reduces the activity of faecal enzymes and prevents diarrhea after radiotherapy. 

Bifidobacterium breve Yakult – protects against food mutagens and diarrhea, helps to balance the intestinal microflora. 

Bifidobacterium lactis BB12 – prevention of diarrhea associated with the use of antibiotics, prevention of rotavirus diarrhea in chronically hospitalized children. 

Probiotic yogurt a (typical) yogurt with live cultures of bacteria – differences 

Does every yogurt have a proven probiotic effect and can be considered as a probiotic product? No! 

Probiotic yoghurts contain, of course, live bacterial cultures with proven probiotic activity. Probiotic yoghurts on the packaging must contain detailed information on the used probiotic type, species and strain of bacteria or yeast. In addition, for yogurt to be considered probiotic, it should contain at least 10 million units of Bifidobacterium colonies or 100 million colony forming units of the Lactobacillus genus in one gram (this information does not have to be included on the package). The amount of probiotic yogurts on the Polish market is small. 

Yoghurts with live bacterial cultures are like any yoghurt (also probiotic) – a product made of pasteurized milk, also with the addition of milk powder and sometimes acidified milk proteins by adding live cultures of lactic acid bacteria from the genus Lactobacillus and Streptococcus, reproducing in the incubation process, at the right temperature. These bacteria process milk sugar – lactose into lactic acid. These (typical) yoghurts do not contain microorganisms with proven probiotic activity (it does not mean that they do not have a pro-health effect!), And they do not have to contain information on the type of microorganisms on the packaging. 

Are popular pickled vegetables probiotics? 

Pickling is one of the oldest methods of preservation of food using spontaneous lactic fermentation. In Poland, the most popular pickled products are sauerkraut and pickled cucumbers. 

According to the adopted definition, pickled vegetables, as they are usually produced at home, contain unspecified bacteria in an undefined quantity. In these vegetables there are natural lactic acid bacteria, such as Lactobacillus plantarum, Leuconostoc mesenteroides and Pediococcus cerevisiae, but also other microorganisms. Unfortunately, vegetables can not be called probiotic, just like yoghurts with live bacterial cultures, because they have no proven probiotic activity and do not contain a specific number of a specific type of bacteria. It does not mean, however, that they do not have a healthy effect, on the contrary they have a lot of different valuable ingredients, and the bacteria from pickled vegetables survive the passage through the entire digestive system, colonize the intestines and support the body eg after antibiotic therapy. 


You can read also: What is SIBO?

Posted on: May 13, 2019

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