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Yakult vs Actimel: An In-Depth Comparison

Yakult vs Actimel: An In-Depth Comparison
Yakult vs Actimel: An In-Depth Comparison

When it comes to probiotic-enhanced dairy drinks, two of the most popular brands are Yakult and Actimel. Both products offer many of the same health benefits, however, there are a few key differences between them. It’s time to shed some light on these key differences and determine which one might be the better option for you.

Are Yakult and Actimel the same?

Yakult and Actimel may be similar in some ways but are actually two distinct products. Yakult comes from Japan, and it is a fermented milk drink developed in the 1930s by Minoru Shirota, who gave his name to the specific bacteria strain found in Yakult: L. casei Shirota.

Yakult fermented milk drink

On the other hand, Actimel was developed in the 1980s, long after the first steps to creating fermented milk based on Lactobacillus casei were taken. Only in 1994 was it commercially launched in Belgium. The word Actimel is derived from the Flemish “Actieve melk” which simply means Active Milk. Actimel is classed as a yogurt.

These two drinks are popular options for the health benefits they can provide to individuals with gut issues and overall immune system deficiencies. In this regard, Yakult and Actimel are almost the same.

Actimel probiotic

What is the difference between Yakult and Actimel?

While they may provide almost the same health benefits, there are a few key differences between Yakut and Actimel:

Yakult and Actimel contain different bacteria

The friendly probiotic strains found in these drinks are what sets them apart. The friendly bacteria in Yakult are Lactobacilli casei Shirota. In Actimel, they are Lactobacilli casei Danone. Probiotics of the lactobacilli group, which are naturally found in the human gut, help to fight off harmful bacteria.

Still, the genetic makeup of these strains is closely related. A study has found the bacteria found in Yakult and Actimel to “display similar probiotic functions”.

Yakult and Actimel taste different

Depending on the different versions of each drink, the taste can be noticeably different. In general, Yakult is considered to have a sweeter taste which makes it tasty to drink.

They contain different ingredients

Yakult contains water, reconstituted skimmed milk, glucose-fructose syrup, sugar, maltodextrin, flavourings and L. Casei Shirota as active bacteria.

On the other hand, Actimel contains yogurt made from milk, skimmed milk along with sugar or liquid sugar and dextrose for sweetness. It also contains Milk Mineral Concentrate as well as Vitamins B6 and D. Lastly it has Lactobacillus casei (L. casei Danone®) as its active bacteria similar to that found in Yakult.

Actimel also has an addition of natural flavours in the case of the flavoured versions, as well as fruit purees which Yakult does not.

Yakult and Actimel have different sugar levels

The sugar content in Yakult is slightly higher than that of Actimel (original). Yakult has 13.6g of sugar for every 100 ml, compared to 11g in Actimel. This is something to consider if you are watching your sugar intake.

However, there is also a Yakult light version which has 4.4g of sugar per 100 ml. Actimel also has a low-sugar version with 3g of sugar per 100 ml.

Yakult vs Actimel: Health Benefits Comparison

It is important to note that different types of probiotics have been linked with different types of health benefits. Specific conditions may be more effectively treated with specific probiotic strains. With that in mind, how do the strains of bacteria found in Yakult and Actimel compare?

The health benefits of Yakult and Actimel have been explored through many studies on probiotics and their impact on health. Let’s take a look at the main health benefits that you can expect from the different probiotic strains found in Yakult and Actimel.

Studies suggest that the L. casei Shirota strain helps to balance the gut microbiota, improve gastrointestinal dysfunction, and even aid the prevention of infection and cancer. Moreover, the strain found in Yakult may help to relieve anxiety by regulating psychological, physiological, and physical stress responses.

On the other hand, the L. casei DN114001 (Actimel®) strain has demonstrated a clear strain-specific efficacy for preventing adult antibiotic-associated diarrhea.

Additionally, the probiotic strain found in Actimel has been found to be beneficial for upper respiratory tract infections in older individuals, as well as for improving inflammatory markers and reducing the risk of common infections in stressed individuals, such as shift workers.

Last but not least, both Yakult and Actimel are beneficial as probiotic sources for reducing the symptoms of IBS.

Which is better: Actimel or Yakult?

The answer to this question ultimately depends on your individual needs. Yakult and Actimel are both excellent sources of beneficial probiotics that can have a positive impact on your health.

Depending on the condition you are treating, one of these probiotic drinks may be better suited than the other.

 It’s important to consider the different health benefits of Yakult and Actimel, as well as the ingredients each drink contains.

Ultimately, Yakult and Actimel can both be used to support a healthy gut microbiome, but the specific strain of probiotic you choose will depend on the health benefits you are looking for.

Whichever you choose, make sure to always consult with your healthcare provider before incorporating any new supplement into your diet.   By doing this, you can make sure you are making the best choice for your health.

Yakult or Actimel for thrush?

The probiotic strains that have been found to be most effective in resolving thrush are Lactobacillus reuteri RC-14 and Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-, both of which have demonstrated notable anti-fungal properties. Both help to lower the pH in the vaginal tract. Similarly, both strains may reduce inflammation associated with thrush.

Studies also show that L. casei Shirota found in Yakult exhibits antifungal properties against the Candida species. This indicates that Yakult may be the better pick for resolving thrush if you do not have access to L rhamnosus strain probiotics.

Yakult or Actimel for constipation?

Mostly due to a lack of studies on the effects of Actimel on constipation, Yakult seems to be a more effective choice in resolving this issue. Gastroenterology specialists will generally recommend the same types of probiotics for constipation as the ones found in Yakult.

Which is better for IBS – Yakult or Actimel?

Yakult and Actimel could also alleviate symptoms of IBS. While there is a lack of research to suggest that the specific probiotic strains found in these drinks resolve symptoms of IBS, other L casei strains such as L. casei LC01 could help to regulate intestinal permeability.

If you suffer from symptoms of IBS, it would be best to try each drink and see if your body responds better to one or the other. However, probiotics in general have been found to be beneficial to gut health and IBS management.

Can you take Yakult and Actimel together?

Yes, you can drink Yakult and Actimel together. Consuming both products in combination could help to support the immune system, improve gut health and reduce the risk of certain types of infection.

However, when you take multiple strains of probiotic together, it’s important to be mindful of the potential for them to compete with one another. Research suggests that some probiotic strains can inhibit, or out-compete, other strains. Therefore, if you are taking Yakult and Actimel together, it is best to take a few hours break between them. 

Ultimately, Yakult and Actimel are great additions to a balanced diet and can help to improve your overall health.

Yakult vs Actimel vs Kefir

Yakult and Actimel, unfortunately, fall short of Kefir in terms of nutritional value and health advantages. Yakult may have a seductively sweet flavour, but this is mainly a result of the substantial sugar addition.

Similarly, Actimel tastes more like regular yogurt, but it is not as nutritious as Kefir. Protein, calcium, and potassium are all present in good amounts in kefir milk. Kefir made from plain milk contains less sugar and fat than Yakult or Actimel, making it a type of super drink from a health perspective.