Yakult vs. Kefir: Which Is Better For You?

For many health-conscious individuals, making the right choice between Yakult and Kefir can be confusing. Both probiotic drinks have become popular in recent years due to their purported benefits for gut health, but which one is truly better?

In this article, we will explore the differences between Yakult and Kefir so that you can make an informed decision on which drink best suits your needs. We’ll look at the ingredients, nutritional content, taste, and potential side effects of each beverage to answer the question: Which is better – Yakult or Kefir?

What is Yakult?

Yakult is a fermented milk drink that originated in Japan in the 1930s. It contains a specific strain of bacteria called Lactobacillus casei Shirota, which is known for its probiotic properties.

Yakult is sold in small bottles and is often marketed as a daily probiotic drink that can help improve digestion and boost the immune system. The taste of Yakult is described as a sweet, citrusy flavour with a hint of vanilla.

Here is a full list of its ingredients: water, skimmed milk (reconstituted), glucose-fructose syrup, sugar, maltodextrin, flavourings. Contains L. casei Shirota. Yakult contains 30 billion L. casei Shirota per 100ml when refrigerated (20 billion per bottle).


What is Kefir?

Kefir, on the other hand, is a fermented milk drink that has been consumed for centuries in the Caucasus region. It is made by adding kefir grains, which are a combination of yeast and bacteria, to milk.

Kefir contains a variety of probiotics and can include strains such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, Streptococcus thermophilus, and Bifidobacterium bifidum. Kefir is often described as a tangy and slightly effervescent drink that can be enjoyed on its own or used as a base for smoothies and other drinks.


The ingredients list for plain kefir is much more simple than that of Yakult. It contains only pasteurised cow’s milk fermented with live kefir cultures. Flavoured kefir also has some sugar, flavourings and other ingredients to improve the taste.

Are Yakult and Kefir the Same?

While Yakult and Kefir are both probiotic drinks that offer health benefits, they are not the same. While Yakult contains only one strain of bacteria, Kefir contains a variety of probiotic strains.

Additionally, Yakult is made by fermenting milk with the Lactobacillus casei Shirota strain while Kefir is made by adding kefir grains to milk and allowing it to ferment.

It’s also worth noting that Yakult contains added sugar while there is no added sugar in traditional plain kefir.

Nutritional Content of Yakult and Kefir

The nutritional values of Yakult per 100ml are:

  • Energy: 66 kcal
  • Fat: 0 g
  • of which saturates: 0 g
  • Carbohydrates: 15.4 g
  • of which sugars: 13.6 g
  • Protein: 1.3 g
  • Salt: 0.04g

Per 65ml bottle of Yakult, you get 43 kcal, 10g of carbs, 8.8g of sugars and 0.8 g of protein.

The nutritional values for unflavoured Kefir per 100ml are:

  • Energy: 59 kcal
  • Fat: 2.9 g
  • of which saturates: 2.1 g
  • Carbohydrates: 4.6 g
  • of which sugars: 2.8 g
  • Protein: 3.5g
  • Salt: 0.1g

While kefir and Yakult share some similarities in their nutritional composition, there are some key differences worth noting.

In terms of similarities, both Kefir and Yakult are low in fat and salt. Yakult is completely fat-free, while unflavored Kefir contains a small amount of fat. Additionally, both products contain live bacteria cultures that can provide beneficial effects for the digestive system.

However, there are also some notable differences between the two products. Yakult has a higher energy content per 100ml than Kefir, with 66kcal compared to Kefir’s 59kcal. This is due to the higher carbohydrate and sugar content in Yakult, with 15.4g of carbs and 13.6g of sugars per 100 ml, compared to Kefir’s 4.6g of carbs and 2.8g of sugars per 100 ml. In contrast, Kefir has a higher protein content per 100ml than Yakult, with 3.5g of protein compared to Yakult’s 1.3g.

It’s also worth noting that Yakult comes in a standardized 65ml bottle size, while Kefir can come in various sizes and flavours. This means that the nutritional content of Kefir can vary depending on the brand and type of Kefir.

Yakult vs Kefir – Probiotic content

Both Yakult and Kefir are fermented dairy products that contain live bacteria cultures, or probiotics, that can provide health benefits to the digestive system. However, the specific types of probiotics that are present in each product are different.

Yakult contains a single probiotic strain called Lactobacillus casei Shirota, which has been extensively studied for its potential health benefits. This strain is known to be particularly resistant to stomach acid and bile, which allows it to survive the digestive process and reach the intestines, where it can colonize and provide beneficial effects. Its proven health benefits include improving digestion and immunity, reducing IBS symptoms and infections and improving mental health.

Generally, Kefir contains a mix of probiotic strains (over 30 normally), including Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus Acidophilus, Lactobacillus Casei, and Lactobacillus Rhamnosus. However, some Kefir products may contain additional strains of probiotics, while others may have different combinations of the same strains (it all depends on the type of kefir and brand).

These probiotics are known to improve gut health and support a healthy immune system. Additionally, they are effective in treating diarrhea, although the specific effects may vary depending on the type of diarrhea.

In addition to their benefits for gut health, specific strains of probiotics in kefir have been found to be particularly helpful for certain conditions. For example, Lactobacillus Acidophilus and Lactobacillus Rhamnosus are especially beneficial for improving symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), while Lactobacillus Casei is effective in treating constipation.

They also have the potential for treating certain types of infections, with Lactobacillus Acidophilus helping prevent and treat vaginal infections, and Lactobacillus Rhamnosus being beneficial for treating upper respiratory infections (URI).

It’s important to note that the potential health benefits of these probiotic strains are still being studied, and more research is needed to fully understand their effects on the body.

Additionally, the effects of probiotics can vary from person to person, depending on factors such as age, diet, and overall health. Nevertheless, with the combination of these probiotic strains, Kefir may offer a broad range of potential benefits to the digestive system and overall health.

Effectiveness of Yakult and Kefir in promoting gut health

Studies have shown that the probiotics in Yakult and Kefir can help improve gut health in various ways. For example, they may help to balance the gut microbiome by increasing the number of beneficial bacteria in the gut and reducing harmful bacteria. This can lead to improved digestion, reduced inflammation, and better immune function.

While both Yakult and Kefir can be effective in promoting gut health, it’s important to note that their effectiveness may vary depending on the individual and the specific strains of probiotics they contain.

Additionally, diet and lifestyle factors can also play a role in gut health. A balanced diet rich in fibre, fruits, and vegetables, as well as regular exercise, can also help improve gut health.

Additional benefits of consuming Yakult and Kefir

In addition to promoting gut health, consuming Yakult and Kefir may have other potential benefits. For example, some studies suggest that Lactobacillus casei Shirota, the probiotic strain found in Yakult, may help to reduce abdominal fat and improve cholesterol levels.

Additionally, Kefir contains probiotics that may help to improve the absorption of vitamins and minerals in the body. It’s also a good source of calcium and B vitamins.

Consuming Yakult and Kefir may also help to improve overall mental health. Some studies suggest that probiotics may help to reduce stress and anxiety, as well as improve mood.

Overall, both Yakult and Kefir can be a beneficial addition to any diet, helping to promote gut health and potentially providing other health benefits as well. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the potential effects of these probiotics may vary depending on the individual and the specific strain they contain.

Which Is Better for You: Yakult or Kefir?

Yakult and Kefir both contain probiotics that can help to improve gut health, but which one is better for you? The choice between Yakult and kefir ultimately depends on individual preferences and health goals.

Both Yakult and kefir contain beneficial probiotics that can support digestive health and boost the immune system. However, Yakult is a more specialized probiotic drink that contains only one type of bacteria, while kefir is a fermented dairy product that contains a variety of bacterial strains and yeast that may offer greater potential health benefits.

If you prefer a sweeter, more mild-tasting drink that is easy to find in supermarkets, Yakult may be the better choice for you. Beware though, it does contain added sugar so it’s not suitable for those watching their sugar intake. On the other hand, if you are looking for a more natural and versatile probiotic option, kefir may be a better fit.

Ultimately, both Yakult and kefir can be an excellent addition to your diet and help support gut health.