Probiotic Yogurts: All yogurts are ‘Probiotic Yogurts’?


Yogurt is a popular food that added in human diet centuries ago. After discovery, continuous research has been carried out for improvisation of its taste, texture and nutritional value. Yogurt food is made by heating milk to about 80 C, then cooling it to about 45 C. Then culture bacteria are added. Later the mixture is allowed to ferment for 4/8 hours.


In last few decades significant number of researches reveals health benefits of yogurt. Increasing number of health awareness about benefits of yogurt consumption increases trade of yogurt globally.


Various types of yogurts are available globally according to culture & taste. Homemade & commercially available yogurts are different in taste and nutritional value. As a probiotic rich food, yogurt helps to improve human intestinal health and immune system. “All yogurts are ‘probiotic yogurts’?” It’s a confusing one to answer technically and literally. Let’s try to find the answer….


What are Probiotics?

Probiotics are “Live microorganisms, which, when consumed in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.”

This is the modern definition of probiotics, drafted by joint expert consultation of the Food and Agricultural Organization and the World Health Organization in Argentina (2001).


Concept of Probiotic:


Let’s first know about Microbiome…


Collection of all the microorganisms, living in association with the human body is known as human Microbiome. Microbiome is generally not harmful to human; in fact they are essential for maintaining health.


How Microbiome helps?

  1. They produce some vitamins that humans do not have the genes to make.
  2. Microbiome breaks down food to nutrients that human need to survive.
  3. Teach human immune systems to recognize foreign invaders.
  4. Microbiome also has some anti-inflammatory functions to eliminate other disease causing microbes.


Disruption of the Microbiome renders patients prone to severe infection with not only one, but also several pathogenic microorganisms. A strategy to restore a host-supportive Microbiome involves the use of probiotics. Live microorganisms are known to influence production of immunoglobulins and thus altering the body’s immune defence. They are also able to contribute to a specific immune response against pathogenic bacteria. When human body lose parts of Microbiome, like after taking antibiotics, after diarrhea etc probiotics can be used to replace them. Probiotics can be used to balance Microbiome and “bad” bacteria to keep body working the way it should.



Pro, Pre & Synbiotics


Let’s start with definitions:



Probiotics are live microorganisms, which, when consumed in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.



Prebiotics are metabolic fuel that microorganisms in the gastrointestinal tract use for their survival.



When Probiotic organisms and prebiotics are served as composition it’s often called synbiotics.

By definition Pro, Pre & Synbiotics are not same. That’s why; Probiotics should not be confused with prebiotics or Synbiotics.

There is disagreement about whether dead or deactivated microorganisms or microbial products should be included in the term “Probiotics”.



Commonly Used probiotic Strains:

Health benefits have mainly been demonstrated for specific probiotic strains of the following genera: Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, Saccharomyces boulardii, Enterococcus durans, Enterococcus faecium, Streptococcus thermophilus, Lactococcus lactis, Bacillus subtilis, Escherichia coli Nissle 1917 etc.


How Probiotic works?


In Gastrointestinal tract Probiotics reduce growth of pathogenic microorganisms,

  1. By fostering colonization resistance,
  2. By improving intestinal transit,
  3. By helping normalize a perturbed microbiota.

Probiotics helps in

  1. Production of bioactive metabolites (e.g., short-chain fatty acids)
  2. Reduction of luminal pH in the colon

Probiotics also helps in

  1. Vitamin synthesis,
  2. Gut barrier reinforcement,
  3. Bile salt metabolism,
  4. Enzymatic activity, and
  5. Toxin neutralization.

Through all of these mechanisms, probiotics have wide range of impacts on human health and disease.



Natural & Commercial Probiotics

Probiotics are present in some foods naturally by their process of food making. Foods those are preparing by the process of fermentation are usually rich in probiotics. The term probiotics comprises a number of microbes rather a single one. Healthy individuals can benefit from taking these foods regularly. But for a person who needs to be treated for a specific disease that need specific strain of probiotics in a calculated dose, commercial preparation of probiotics came in front.



“All yogurts are ‘probiotic yogurts’?”


Firstly, all yogurts contain the bacteria Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophiles, as they are the starter culture.


Secondly, significant number of authentic research recommends, Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophiles help alleviate symptoms associated with lactose maldigestion.


So, Yogurt that contains the live cultures and confers a health benefit by definition of probiotics should be considered as a probiotic yogurt.

If there are no live microbes, that yogurt is not probiotic yogurt.


Not all the yogurt contains live bacteria (as yogurt can be heat-treated after fermentation, thereby killing the live cultures used to create it. There are no longer live microorganisms in such heat-treated yogurt), so they are not probiotic yogurt.



Yogurts with only the starter bacteria


Yogurts with an adequate additional probiotic strains


The Lactobacillus and Streptococcus bacteria found in standard cultured yogurts are good for gut, but don’t want to remain there long-term. When these bacteria are ingested, they play a supportive role for the other healthy bacteria that already reside within your gastrointestinal tract. That’s why though technically standard cultured yogurts are probiotic yogurt, but not exert beneficial effects like Yogurts with an adequate additional probiotic strains.


Yogurts with an adequate additional probiotic strains, also known as Probiotic Yogurts, have a wider variety of bacteria. The bacteria in probiotic yogurts include Bifidobacterium bifidum, Lactobacillus acidophilus etc.

These yogurts can help to:


  • Improve lactose tolerance
  • Improve immune system function
  • Improve digestion
  • Improve weight control
  • Prevent and help treat gastrointestinal disorders


So It is very relevant to be able to distinguish between yogurts with only the starter bacteria in them, and yogurts with an adequate level of additional probiotic strains; additional probiotic bacteria added to basic yogurt can confer a wider range of benefits. Unlike Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus, the additional probiotic bacteria (including strains of Bifidobacterium lactis or Lactobacillus casei, acidophilus, reuteri and others) are able to survive into the intestine and have been shown to impact both gut health and immune functions. Many might be looking to their probiotic yogurt for just these benefits, and the basic yogurt will fall short.



  1. Reid G, Jass J, Sebulsky MT, McCormick JK. Potential uses of probiotics in clinical practice. Clinical Microbiology Reviews. 2003;16(4):658-672. doi:10.1128/CMR.16.4.658-672.2003


  1. Shakiluzzaman DM. Probiotics: things need to know. khidmat Drug Outlet. February 2020. Accessed February 5, 2020.


  1. Quin C, Estaki M, Vollman DM, Barnett JA, Gill SK, Gibson DL. Probiotic supplementation and associated infant gut microbiome and health: a cautionary retrospective clinical comparison. Sci Rep. 2018;8. doi:10.1038/s41598-018-26423-3


  1. Are all yogurts ‘probiotic yogurts’? – California Dairy Research Foundation. Accessed February 5, 2020.


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