Why eat yogurt?
Many nutritionist encourage the consumption of yogurt, mainly because yogurt has naturally occurring probiotic. When it comes to gut-health, probiotics are a necessity, There’s bacteria everywhere, some good and some bad, but the probiotics in yogurt are live bacteria and yeasts which are imperative to a healthy digestive system. Especially if you are on any form of anti-biotic medicine. Eating yogurt is good and helpful for your gut-health, and Dannon Activia Yogurt really promotes this in their advertisement. So much so, they have developed a 2 Week long Activia Challenge which will help those with digestive or gut problems, and help people become a little more regular in their bowel movements.
What is the Activia Challenge?
For two weeks, you’ll consume 2 Activia yogurts a day while maintaining a healthy diet. The main probiotic in Activia— Bifidus Regularis— has been connected to improved digestive health and helps in the transit and nutrient absorption process. However, a lot of the research done on the benefits of Dannon Active might not be the highest quality. It be noted that the research on the overall benefits of Activia was in fact funded by Dannon.
So is it worth trying the Activia Challenge? I mean it’s only for 14 days. If you think about it, this challenge is adding a product into your every day life, while others tend to be a little more restrictive. There’s no nutritional guidelines to follow except add 2 yogurts to your daily diet. Those can be breakfast or midday snacks, and the benefits are gut-health and digestive regularity. Sounds easy enough.
What are the challenges with the challenge?
Before we dig in, there might be some caution signs with this challenge. Many nutritionist promote excluding overly processed foods from the diet. And taking a closer look at the ingredients of Activia, it seems this yogurt might not be as healthy as the advertisements allude to. There’s tons of added sugar and thickening agents, but I mean yogurt has to be made and can’t be found in nature. But it’s the additives that become worrisome and can negatively impact over all health. Especially if absorption is working more efficiently with probiotics.
What is in Activia?
From the Activia label (I went with blueberry flavored), here are some of the ingredients listed. I’m looking to compare Activia to a blueberry flavored greek yogurt.
- Cultured Grade A Milk
- Blueberry Puree
- Stabilizer Blend (modifed food starch, kosher gelatin, pectin)
- Milk Protein Concentrate
- Contains less than 1% of Whey Protein Concentrate
- Modified Corn Starch
- Carmine (for color)
- Natural Flavor
- Agar Agar
- Guar Gum
- Citric Acid
- Sodium Citrate
Okay, a lot of things that might take some time to look up. But what’s the alternative? Let’s examine Fage Greek Yogurt:
- Grade A Pasteurized Skimmed Milk and Cream
- Live Active Yogurt Cultures (L. Bulgaricus, S. Thermophilus, L. Acidophilus, Bifidus, L. Casei)
- Blueberry Fruit Preparation (20%):
- Cane sugar
- Corn starch
- Contains 2% of less of lemon juice concentrate
- Natural flavors
Greek Yogurt vs Activia
There’s a lot less in Fage than there is in Activia, and the additives in Activia aren’t necessarily the healthiest either. There’s lots of thickening agents contained in Activia like gelatin, starch and agar agar which could take away from the overall benefits. Though, all this information has no true scientific backing. Most of the evidence against and Pro Activia is anecdotal. It appears it depends on individuals and how they deal with yogurt. For example, I do not have any digestive issues when I eat Activia and it also doesn't impact my regularity.
The one thing that haunts the validity of the health benefits of Activia is a massive lawsuit filed in 2008 when a person claimed Dannon was not truthful about the health benefits of incorporating probiotics into the diet. The company had to pay out a $45 million to settle.
Since that lawsuit, Dannon has a disclaimer at the bottom of the Activia Probiatic Challenge which reads “Activia may help reduce the frequency of minor digestive discomfort. Consume twice a day for two weeks as part of a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle. Minor digestive discomfort includes bloating, gas, abdominal discomfort and rumbling.”
Side effects of Probiotic and Activia diet?
For those who’s diets don’t include probiotics, incorporating probiotics can be really uncomfortable. Because again, probiotics are good bacteria and tend to nullify the bad, and just like any internal conflict there’s some consequences. And many of those consequences come in the form of bloating, gas, abdominal cramping, diarrhea, nausea, and burning. Sounds incredibly appealing, right?
These drawbacks can happen whether you’re eating Activia or Chobani or Fage. Why? Because probiotics line your digestive tract and assists your body is absorbing nutrients a little more efficiently. As a result, if you’re eating healthy and proper foods you can really boost your immune system and increase your energy for an overall healthier life. But if you consume probiotics and are eating junk, your body is going to absorb the chemicals and needs to figure out a way to deal with expelling it. Like a chemistry experiment in your stomach, it can result in increased gas that needs to find a way to release, and thus bloating and then gas and frequent discomfort.
But you also have to recognize your own pitfalls of your diet. Many people complained that the Activia Challenge led to discomfort and loose stool. Some of these complaints stemmed from women who are known to suffer from mild forms of lactose intolerance. It’s not too difficult to realize this challenge might not be the one for you seeing it surrounds ingesting a dairy product. Though I thought this was common sense, if you are lactose intolerant do not partake in the Activia Challenge.
A handful claimed there was some weight gain as well throughout the challenge and opposite effects happened like constipation. But again, all these statements are anecdotal and not evidence based. Because as many people complained about the negative effects of the Activia Challenge, many also felt it did wonders for their health.
Some claimed by adding yogurt into their diet they had bowel regularity, more energy, some weight loss, and helped with symptoms of eczema, and helped clear up acne. So it really does depend on how your body processes dairy products, and what else you are consuming in your diet outside of heaping spoonfuls of Activia.
So what’s the verdict about the Activia Challenge?
I’m a little indifferent about Activia. I’ve tried it and saw no real significant changes. I think the yogurt is pretty tasty, so I think it would be a great snack to have, but I wouldn’t go as far as recommend this challenge for anyone who is looking to make significant health or body changes. In my opinion, this challenge would be a waste of money, though if it doesn’t work, Dannon will supposedly refund you. Which could be a benefit to trying it in the first place.
Emily has spent the last 8 years comparing, reviewing and analyzing ingredients in the supplements industry. She has worked extensively with dieticians, nutritionists and personal trainers to separate fact from fiction and help people achieve their fitness goals. In her free time she works and enjoys the outdoors with her husband and 2 children.