For years, Actimel has been a go-to yogurt drink, sparking curiosity about its health benefits. You might have found yourself wondering, “Does Actimel work, or is it all just buzz?” You’re not alone in asking.
In this article, we’ll dig into the science to reveal the real Actimel benefits and help you decide if Actimel is genuinely good for you. We’ll explore its potential advantages for your health, as well as any possible downsides. So, let’s unravel the mystery.
Table of contents:
- What is Actimel?
- Ingredients in Actimel today
- The nutritional content of Actimel
- Health Benefits of Actimel
- Side Effects of Actimel
- When is the best time to take Actimel?
- How many Actimel can you drink per day?
- Is Actimel good for constipation?
- Is Actimel good for weight loss?
- Can you drink Actimel when pregnant?
- Is Actimel good for you?
What is Actimel?
Actimel is a yogurt drink that was originally launched in 1994 and has been a staple across Europe since. The story of Actimel originally reaches all the way back to 1987 when research began on the L. casei probiotic strain.
Sometime later, the L. casei Danone strain was discovered and incorporated into this drink. It took less than 6 years after its launch for Actimel to grow and become a global brand.
With time, the Actimel formula was perfected and new ingredients were added to the mix. Around 2010, Actimel began to include vitamin B6 and vitamin D to help the function of the immune system.
In 2018, a new type of Actimel was launched, containing 0% added fat or sugar. Today, the Actimel drink contains even more vitamin D than before, containing up to one-third of the daily reference intake in a single bottle.
Ingredients in Actimel today
Today, the original Actimel flavour contains the following ingredients:
Yogurt (Milk), Water, Skimmed Milk, Stabiliser (Pectin), Milk Minerals Concentrate, Sweeteners (Sucralose, Acesulfame K), Natural Flavourings, Lactobacillus Casei (L. Casei Danone®), Vitamins (B6, D).
It used to contain added sugar but this has now been replaced with artificial sweeteners sucralose and acesulfame K. Given that artificial sweeteners can negatively impact your gut bacteria and overall health, we’re not entirely convinced that replacing sugar with artificial sweeteners was the best choice for Actimel to make.
In addition to its original flavor, Actimel also offers other flavors for you to choose from such as Strawberry, Multifruit and Strawberry Blueberry.
The ingredients slightly vary between each flavour. For example, the Actimel Blueberry flavour also contains strawberry purée (2.1%), modified starch, dextrose and sugar/liquid sugar. Similarly, Actimel Multifruit contains Fruit Juice from Concentrate (2.1%) (Pineapple, Peach, Orange, Strawberry), modified starch, dextrose and sugar/liquid sugar.
The nutritional content of Actimel
Before taking a bite or sip of anything, it’s always a good idea to check the nutritional label. When it comes to Actimel Original (0% Added Sugar, 0% Fat), you can expect to find the following values per 100 grams:
- 27 calories
- 0.1g of fat
- 3g of carbohydrates, of which all 3 grams are sugar (natural, not added though)
- 2.7g of protein
- 0.1g of salt
- 120mg of calcium
- 0.21mg of vitamin B6
- 1.7µg of vitamin D
With only 27 calories per bottle, Actimel Original can be considered a very low-calorie drink and a good choice for those who are trying to lose weight.
The drink is also very low in fat containing almost no fat per 100 grams. It also contains no added sugars, making it a healthier alternative to many other drinks. However, it does contain some natural sugars (3g per 100g) which should be taken into consideration if you are watching your sugar intake.
In terms of nutrients, Actimel contains a significant amount of calcium (120mg) and vitamin B6 (0.21mg). It also contains a small amount of vitamin D (1.7µg). This is important because vitamin D helps with the absorption of calcium which is essential for maintaining strong bones and teeth.
Health Benefits of Actimel
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that can positively affect the body in a variety of ways, and Actimel contains a unique probiotic strain – L. casei Danone, also known as Lactobacillus paracasei. This strain could offer a plethora of health benefits, but it’s important to take a look at what the science says first. The following are some of the proven health benefits of Actimel.
Boosts the immune system
The beneficial effects of Actimel on the function of the immune system are one of its main selling points, and there is some evidence to back this up. It’s now well-known that a healthy gut microbiome is essential for the proper functioning of the immune system and probiotics such as those found in Actimel can help improve the microbiome.
A study found that the probiotic strain Lactobacillus casei DN 114001, which is a key ingredient in Actimel, significantly increased the number of lymphocytes (immune cells) in the body.
It’s worth noting that this research was conducted on students of academic age. However, another study focused on individuals over the age of 70 and found that consuming Lactobacillus casei DN 114001 increased specific antibody responses in this age group, demonstrating similar benefits.
Reduces IBS symptoms
IBS or irritable bowel syndrome is a condition that can cause a cluster of symptoms including bloating, abdominal pain, constipation, and other digestive issues. Certain probiotics could help to reduce the symptoms of IBS, and Actimel appears to be one of them.
A meta-analysis was conducted as a review of 15 trials that met the inclusion criteria. The study looked at many different research projects to see if taking probiotics really does help people who have IBS.
It was found that probiotics can be incredibly helpful when it comes to combatting the symptoms of IBS. The analysis included the probiotic strain L. Paracasei, also known as L. Danone which is found in Actimel.
Prevents antibiotic-associated diarrhea
Diarrhea is a common side effect of prolonged probiotic use. While there are several ways to tackle this side effect, one of the best ones might just be using a suitable probiotic. Although the exact mechanisms by which probiotics help to resolve antibiotic-associated diarrhea still require research, the results speak for themselves.
A study found good evidence for the efficacy of the L. casei DN 114001 strain in preventing antibiotic-associated diarrhea when combined with two other probiotic strains.
Even though the probiotic strain found in Actimel, L. casei DN 114001 could not conclusively be deemed beneficial when consumed on its own, the mentioned study also cited The World Gastroenterology Organization (WGO) which developed a guideline on the matter. The guideline stated that the L. casei DN 114001 strain was an effective way to tackle antibiotic-associated diarrhea in hospitalized adult patients.
Resolves pediatric acute diarrhea
Acute diarrhea in children is most often caused by viral and bacterial infections. It is also one of the leading causes of death in developing countries. However, specific strains of probiotics have been shown to be effective in treating it.
An evidence-based guide to choosing the appropriate probiotic for different ailments listed several probiotics as effective in treating diarrhea in children, and L. casei DN 114001 was one of them. According to the guide, this strain which is found in Actimel showed significant efficacy in the treatment of pediatric acute diarrhea.
Actimel may also be useful for those suffering from inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
One study found that in addition to the L. casei Shirota and L. casei BL23 strains, L casei DN 114001 also impaired the onset of inflammation in colitis – an inflammatory disorder that affects the colon.
Another trial found that even non-living probiotic bacteria of the L casei DN 114001 helped to prevent the development of intestinal inflammation. This probiotic strain helped to strengthen the intestinal barrier, which is a promising effect for the treatment of intestinal inflammation such as IBD.
However, these were animal studies, so more research needs to be done on humans to validate these findings.
Reduces the rate of illness
In addition to its beneficial effects on the functioning of the immune system, the probiotic strain found in Actimel was found to reduce the frequency of the onset of common infectious diseases.
A double-blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial found that L. casei DN 114001 reduced the overall incidence of illness, concluding that the strain holds promise in promoting the health of children aged 3–6 years.
Side Effects of Actimel
Actimel is generally considered safe for most people to consume. However, some people may experience side effects, especially if they consume it in large amounts. Some of the potential side effects of Actimel may include:
- Allergies – If you have a specific sensitivity to probiotics, consumption of Actimel could cause an allergic reaction. If you already have an intolerance for soy, gluten, eggs, or dairy, it is best to consult with a healthcare professional beforehand and check for probiotic sensitivity.
- Digestive issues – The influx of beneficial bacteria in the gut can often cause bloating, but this symptom typically resolves itself and is no cause for concern.
- Interaction with medications – Just like with other probiotics, taking Actimel at the same time as an antibiotic may inhibit the effectiveness of the medicine. Antifungal medicines may also have interactions with specific antibiotics
- Headaches and dizziness – Some people may experience headaches and dizziness or lightheadedness after consuming products containing artificial sweeteners like sucralose and acesulfame K.
Lastly, there is a lack of research on the safety of long-term consumption of probiotics like L. casei DN 114001. Consulting a medical professional to determine exactly how long you may be able to consume Actimel safely is advised.
When is the best time to take Actimel?
The official Actimel website states that Actimel can be consumed at any time of day, and recommends integrating it with your breakfast. As probiotics are known to be more effective when taken on an empty stomach, you may wish to consider drinking it around 30 minutes before a meal or a few hours after you’ve had food.
How many Actimel can you drink per day?
The exact amount of Actimel you should consume will depend on the specific health benefits you are after, as well as the severity of your current condition if any. Still, it is recommended to take no more than 2 bottles of Actimel per day.
Is Actimel good for constipation?
The use of probiotic drinks such as Actimel is a common approach to resolving conditions such as constipation. However, there is no conclusive evidence to suggest that Actimel specifically is effective in treating this condition.
Some studies have shown though that probiotic drinks containing L. casei DN 114001 can help to reduce harmful enzyme activity in the gut, which may have a positive effect on digestive health.
Is Actimel good for weight loss?
Some specific strains of probiotics, such as L. casei Shirota, have been shown to have potential benefits for weight management. However, there is a lack of studies on the specific effects of L. casei Danone, which is the strain used in Actimel.
While incorporating a probiotic drink like Actimel into your diet can improve digestive health, there is not enough evidence to definitively say that Actimel can directly promote weight loss.
It is possible that the health benefits of Actimel, combined with a healthy diet and exercise plan, could lead to weight loss. Although, on the positive side, the entire Lactobacillus bacteria genome has been associated with weight regulation in humans so there are potential benefits.
Can you drink Actimel when pregnant?
Actimel is likely safe to drink for both pregnant and lactating women. Studies also claim that probiotic and prebiotic products are considered safe to consume during pregnancy. Nevertheless, it is best to consult your healthcare provider or dietitian if you have any concerns about consuming Actimel while pregnant.
Conclusion – Is Actimel good for you?
In conclusion, Actimel is believed to boost the immune system, reduce symptoms of IBS, and combat inflammation, but more research is needed to confirm these health benefits. While Actimel is a low-calorie, low-fat, and low-sugar drink, it contains artificial sweeteners that could negatively impact gut bacteria and overall health.
Overall, Actimel can be a healthy choice for some people, but it’s important to consult a healthcare professional before making it a regular part of your diet.
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