Curious about probiotics? You’re not alone. More and more people are looking to these beneficial bacteria to boost their gut health. That’s why we’re putting Yakult and Actimel under the microscope—two of the most popular brands in the world of probiotics.
They might look similar, but here’s the thing: Yakult and Actimel are actually quite different, each with their own unique strains of bacteria, taste profiles, and nutritional values.
Stick around as we delve into the key differences to help you decide which one might be the better option for you.
Table of contents
- Are Yakult and Actimel the same?
- Key Differences Between Yakult and Actimel
- Yakult vs Actimel: Health Benefits Comparison
- Which is Better for Specific Conditions?
- Can you take Yakult and Actimel together?
- Yakult vs Actimel vs Kefir
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.
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 drinks are popular for their health benefits, especially for those with gut issues or immune deficiencies. In this regard, Yakult and Actimel are almost the same.
Key Differences Between Yakult and Actimel
The friendly probiotic strains found in these drinks are what sets them apart. The bacteria in Yakult are Lactobacilli casei Shirota while 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 that the bacteria found in Yakult and Actimel “display similar probiotic functions”.
The taste profiles of Yakult and Actimel vary significantly. Yakult tends to be sweeter, while Actimel has a yogurty tang.
Yakult contains water, reconstituted skimmed milk, glucose-fructose syrup, sugar, maltodextrin, flavourings and L. Casei Shirota as active bacteria.
On the other hand, Actimel Original contains yogurt made from milk, skimmed milk and pectin along with artificial sweeteners for sweetness. It also contains Milk Minerals 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. Yakult, on the other hand, is flavoured with a hint of vanilla and lemon flavours.
Actimel Comes Out Ahead in Nutritional Content
Actimel Original contains 120mg of calcium in one 100g bottle, whereas Yakult contains only negligible amounts of calcium, not even mentioned on the product’s nutritional label.
In addition, Actimel contains more protein per bottle—3g per 100g, while Yakult contains only 0.8g per bottle. Actimel is also fortified with vitamin B6 which is not found in Yakult.
Yakult and Actimel have different sugar levels
The sugar content in Yakult is significantly higher than in Actimel Original, as it is made with added sugar instead of artificial sweeteners. In particular, Yakult has 13.6g of sugar per 100 ml, compared to 3g in Actimel.
However, some of this sugar is natural, coming from lactose. Nevertheless, Yakult still has a much higher sugar content and this is something to consider if you are watching your sugar intake.
If you prefer the taste of Yakult but want to reduce your sugar intake, you might consider trying the Yakult light version. This contains only 4.4g of sugar per 100 ml, which is comparable to the sugar content in Actimel Original.
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.
Research indicates that L. casei Shirota can balance gut bacteria, improve gut health, and potentially prevent infections 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 for Specific Conditions?
Depending on the condition you are treating, one of these probiotic drinks may be better suited than the other.
The most effective probiotic strains for treating thrush are generally considered to be Lactobacillus reuteri RC-14 and Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-. These strains are known for their anti-fungal properties and their ability to lower pH levels in the vaginal tract, which may help reduce inflammation associated with thrush.
Interestingly, studies suggest that L. casei Shirota—the probiotic strain found in Yakult—also has antifungal effects against Candida species, the yeast responsible for thrush. This makes Yakult a potentially useful option for thrush treatment, especially if you can’t access probiotics containing the L. rhamnosus strain.
On the other hand, Actimel doesn’t contain these specific probiotic strains shown to be effective against thrush. Therefore, Yakult may be the preferable choice for those dealing specifically with this condition.
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.
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.
Ultimately, Yakult and Actimel can both be used to support a healthy gut microbiome, but the specific strain of probiotics you choose will depend on the health benefits you are looking for.
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.
In the world of probiotics, Yakult and Actimel stand out as prominent choices. Both drinks, originating from different parts of the world and formulated with unique bacterial strains, offer distinct health benefits. While they share some similarities, their differences in taste, nutritional content, and bacterial strains are significant.
When deciding between Yakult and Actimel, it boils down to individual preferences and health needs. If you’re battling conditions like thrush, Yakult might be the more appropriate choice. On the other hand, if you’re looking for added nutritional value like calcium and protein, Actimel comes out ahead.
It’s also noteworthy to mention that while both Yakult and Actimel offer substantial benefits, other options like Kefir provide an even richer nutritional profile, albeit with a different taste and texture.
In the end, whether you opt for Yakult, Actimel, Kefir, or any other probiotic supplement, the key is to ensure it aligns with your personal health goals and dietary needs. Regularly consuming these probiotics, as part of a balanced diet, is bound to contribute positively to your overall well-being.