Inspiration from Meghan

Join my community

Sign up to receive news, updates and special offers through our newsletter.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

There’s Sh!t In My Yogurt!


Written by Josh Gitalis.  Read Josh’s bio here.

There is more bacteria in and on our body, than human cells. We are outnumbered ten to one. You might even say that we are more bacteria than human. The implications of this are becoming more and more evident.  Bacteria influence our health in hundreds of ways. Everyday there are new discoveries on how these microorganisms interact with human physiology.

The benefits of consuming probiotics (“pro” meaning “for”, “biotic” meaning “life”) are truly abundant.  However, the cultured foods that are available are usually of the lowest quality and advertised to consumers through clever marketing. An example of one of these products is Activia yoghurt by Danone.

Activia uses a strain of bacteria known as Bifidobacterium Animalis (B. animalis) which they sometimes label as Bifidus Regularis (more on this in a moment). Just to give you a bit of background, bacteria species that are normally found in humans are not found in animals and visa versa. B. animalis (as the nomenclature suggests) comes from animals.It is found in the feces of rats, chickens, rabbits, calfs, and in sewage. You read that right- the bacteria culture in Activia yogurt is derived from poop.

Why do they add this particular strain to their yogurt?

This strain helps humans to be more regular- temporarily. This is why their marketing ploy involves suggesting you take on the “Activia challenge”- consuming their product for 14 days to see if it helps get your digestive system “back on track”, or your money back.

Here’s the BIG catch, once you stop eating Activia, your digestion goes right back to the way it was. The reason is that since B. animalis is not a resident of the human digestive tract, as a result it eventually gets eliminated. In addition, it displaces the resident probiotics that should be taking up residence in your gut. This means that yes, Activia might make you more regular while you eat it, but might actually cause more digestive challenges when you stop. Sounds a lot like pharmaceuticals- treating the symptom, not the cause.

Probitoics, the kind that body can actually utilize have major benefits.

Some Benefits of Probiotics:

  • Regulate the immune system
  • Prevent diarrhea and constipation
  • Decrease Inflammation
  • Reverse Allergies
  • Treat/prevent yeast infections
  • Promote strong bones
  • Prevent cancer
  • Relieve acid reflux

Most indigenous cultures consume at least one fermented and/or cultured food. And chances are our great grandparents included cultured food as well.

What is a better option to getting the kind of probiotics into our diet that will actually stick around and help rebalance our gut flora?

Nowadays most people don’t even know what a fermented/cultured food is. You might want to try a top quality probiotic supplement or some amazingly delicious naturally fermented foods including:

These foods inoculate our digestive tracts with good bacteria (probiotics).

p.s. Tweet tweet- share today's tweetable!

Question of the Day: What are your favourite digestive friendly health tips? Share below!


42 Responses to “There’s Sh!t In My Yogurt!”

  1. Anna said…
    Ewwwwwww!!! That's disgusting! I don't eat activia but it upsets me that people (myself included) don't know what's in their food. Pickles are good for you? You mean the one you can find at the grocery store? I thought they were filled with sodium..
  2. Yeah activia has always upset me! Though I wouldn't get hung up over the shit part as human microflora supplements are also derived from poop, according to every single supplement rep I've talked to on the subject. Granted the animal poop probably has quite a few more issues with it if derived from factory-farmed animals!
    • Josh said…
      Erica, you are absolutely correct. The point here is that human-strain probiotics are able to set up residency in the gut much easier because they are meant to be there. Animal flora is not found in human gut flora and thus are only transient. The study also mentions the fact that animal probiotics push out the normal human resident bacteria, ultimately having a negative effect on the balance.
  3. Samantha Angela said…
    That's a really interesting fact about the B animalis bacteria. Doesn't all yoghurt contains probiotics though? Wouldn't Activia contain some 'good for your gut' probiotics as well as the B animalis that they add?
    • Josh said…
      Samantha, yes they do add some other good probiotics. The fact of the matter is that they are using a non-resident strain to fool people into thinking the yoghurt is beneficial when in fact it is not optimal. There are many other better choices for yoghurt and probiotic-containing foods.
  4. peace said…
    Hi Josh, Do you have references/sources that we can read to confirm that the particular strain is derived from animal feces (particularly the rat feces). I had trouble finding any sources. Thank you
    • Josh said…
      Hi Peace (great name!), yes, all of these claims are backed by references. I've included them below. References Jan-Hendrik Hehemann, Gaëlle Correc, Tristan Barbeyron, William Helbert, Mirjam Czjzek & Gurvan Michel.Transfer of carbohydrate-active enzymes from marine bacteria to Japanese gut microbiota . Nature464, 908-912. Tannis, Allison. Probiotic Rescue. Wiley: 2008. Ishibashi et al. Bifidobacteria: their significance in human intestinal health. Mal J Nutr 3: 149-159;1997. Salminen et al. Lactic Acid Bacteria: Microbiological and Functional Aspects. Third Edition. Marcel Dekker Inc.:2004
  5. Lauren said…
    What brand of yoghurt do you suggest? I live in az and have stopped eating yoghurt because I just don't know what brand is best to eat .
    • Josh said…
      Lauren, I would recommend you look for sheep or goat yoghurt without any flavouring (flavour it yourself) or organic plain cow yoghurt. Raw yoghurts are best if you can find them. Also, there are yoghurt making kits which are also very good. Elaine Gottschall in her book Breaking The Vicious Cycle recommends making your own yoghurt.
  6. Great post! MY favourite sources of probiotics by far are tempeh and kombucha. Tonica is the best! Regarding probiotic supplements, I initially thought that they all had to be refrigerated, but came across some that are dry-filled - the Life Brand at Shoppers Drug Mart to be precise. What is the difference between these and the ones that have to be refrigerated? I know there is a common perception that store-label products aren't of as high quality, but what are your thoughts on dry-filled vs others? Thanks Josh!
    • Josh said…
      Angela, the best most potent probiotics I've seen are all refrigerated.
  7. Donniel said…
    Great article! To think I was only avoiding it because of the sugar.
  8. Eleanor said…
    This makes me sad. So many family members and friends of mine look to yogurts like Activia to help them without knowing what's actually in it and how it works (or rather doesn't work.) I think the best yogurt I've ever had is the stuff I make myself from raw goat milk and kefir grains. I eat a few tablespoons of that and I can feel the awesome effects for days! Sauerkraut and kimchi are my favorite probiotic foods though, I have weeks where I eat them with every single meal. Mmmm.
    • Anna said…
      What kind of awesome effects? Please tell us more. That sounds so interesting. How do you make your own yogurt anyway?
      • Eleanor said…
        Well for one, my skin looks clearer and brighter when I consume kefir a few times a week. I find this really ironic because most other dairy products make me break out. And of course digestively things seem to move along a lot better after eating some kefir. I'll share a bit of a personal example... one day I decided to make pizza for my family, into the crust I added in some leftover sprouted beans that were sitting in my fridge. I guess these beans developed some kind of funky growth that I didn't notice and I ended up poisoning everyone. I have a fairly sensitive body so I had diarrhea for 3 days, followed by the most awful 5 days of constipation ever. I tried all sorts of tricks for that but nothing worked. Finally I had a nice big mug of raw kefir yogurt for breakfast with apple bits and spices and by the end of the day I was having flawless bowl movements and feeling great! (excuse the personal details, but hey, digestive health is something to not be shy about in my opinion) I make the yogurt but adding in kefir grains into raw whole goat milk and letting that sit on the counter and ferment for 12 - 24 hours until it thickens up and has a pleasant sour smell. Then I remove the kefir grains and plop the mixture into a jar and line the opening with a coffee filter. I flip it upside down and set it into a sieve balanced over mug. There's other easier ways to do this I'm sure, but I only ever do small batches so this method works for me. I let this sit for a few more hours in the counter, or over night in the fridge. This step lets the whey separate and seep down into the mug and inside the jar you're left with a nice creamy probiotic yogurt :) It sounds like a lot of work but it's fairly simple and mostly just waiting. Hope I gave you some useful information.
        • Anna said…
          You are awesome! I'm super constipated because I recently found out I'm anemic and one of the side effects of the iron pills I'm taking is constipation and I feel terrible. I've tried everything you can get over the counter to relieve the symptoms but nothing seems to work. I guess I'll have to try kefir. Thanks so much. Your comment really helped! Now I'm wondering if there's a more natural way to treat anemia.
          • Steven said…
            Most OTC iron's are constipating. If you find one with iron picolinate, it is non constipating.
  9. Jules said…
    Even before changing my eating habits, the whole probiotics in yogurt craze really irked me. People are eating crap and think eating a yogurt is a quick fix. I eat yogurt because it tastes good, but I love real full fat real greek yogurt, plain, with just a bit of drizzled honey and sometimes granola. Thanks for shedding light on this. I tried the Tonica Kombucha the other day. It caught my attention due to it's low sugar content. (I've looked at other Kombucha brands and they are much higher). I'm not a fan of fermented stuff like wine and beer to begin with, but I liked the Tonica. At 3.99 for one bottle, it's a little too pricey for my budget though. Any leads on where one can get it (even by the case) for a good price (k-w, toronto area) would be great!
    • Val said…
      Try making your own! There are tons of resources online for it, and I believe Meghan did a post on it a while ago. If you leave about half a cup of raw kombucha sitting out in a jar (covered with a cloth so it can breathe), it will eventually form a scoby (kombucha culture) you can use.
  10. julia said…
    i heard that a healthy level of probiotics in the gut also effect serotonin levels in the body... do you have any information about this?

Before you post your comment, please note that I am unable to offer nutritional advice or recommendations via my blog.

Let us know what you think. Your email address will not be published.

Join my community

Sign up to receive news, updates and special offers through our newsletter.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
To The Top.