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Benefits of Yakult: All The Info You Need

Have you seen those little red and yellow bottles in the grocery store and wondered what they are? What are the benefits of Yakult? Is it worth your while to add this drink to your daily routine?

We will answer those questions, and more. You might be surprised how powerful Yakult can be for your health. 

Find out all about this shot-sized probiotic with the interesting name. Let’s begin.

What is Yakult?

A microbiologist at Kyoto Imperial University developed Yakult back in the 1930s. Dr. Minoru Shirota discovered a Lactobacillus casei strain which he named Shirota, after himself (1).

Shirota’s goal was to develop a product that offered preventive medicine at a price that was affordable for everyone. Ninety years later, it seems like his vision has become a reality. Today, Yakult is sold in over 40 countries around the world (2).  

Yakult is made with cows milk. If you cannot eat other fermented milk products, you might not be able to tolerate Yakult either.

Casei or Paracasei?

You will see this bacterial strain written as both Lactobacillus casei and Lactobacillus paracasei. They are essentially the same strain. Paracasei is a member of the Lactobacillus casei group (3).  

Yakult Ingredients and Flavors

This probiotic comes in two flavors: the original flavor and Yakult Light. Yakult Light has only 3 grams of sugar compared to the original flavor’s 10 grams. Light has stevia added for sweetness, and in my opinion ends up tasting even sweeter than the original. 

I like the ingredient list of the original Yakult better. It does not contain the corn dextrin which is in Yakult Light. I will nearly always go for the product with fewer ingredients, and I prefer real sugar to artificial sweetener.

However, if you are watching your sugar intake, Yakult Light is a good alternative.

The ingredients in Yakult are:

  • Water
  • Sugar
  • Nonfat milk
  • Glucose
  • Natural flavors
  • L. paracasei strain Shirota
A package with 5 bottles of Yakult.

The ingredients in Yakult Light are:

  • Water
  • Nonfat milk
  • Corn dextrin
  • Sugar
  • Glucose
  • Pectin
  • Natural flavors
  • REB A (stevia extract)
  • L. paracasei strain Shirota
A package with five bottles of Yakult Light.

Here are the main differences between the flavors:

  • Yakult original has10 grams of sugar, Light has only 3 grams of sugar.
  • Yakult original has no fiber, Light has 2 grams of fiber (added pectin).
  • Total fat, cholesterol, sodium and calcium are the same for both flavors.
  • Yakult original has 50 calories per serving. Yakult Light has 25 calories per serving.

The Evidence Behind Yakult

A ton of research has been performed on Lactobacillus paracasei Shirota. Evidence shows that it can improve gut health and constipation, mental health, skin conditions, respiratory health and healing.

Benefits of Yakult for the Gut and Constipation

World Journal of Gastronomy published a systematic review of the literature on probiotics and constipation in 2010. Lactobacillus casei Shirota was one of three bacterial strains that showed favorable results (4). 

The research showed that this strain can increase defecation frequency and improve stool consistency. The study did not identify the probiotic beverage used in this research. However, it contained six and a half billion colony forming units (CFUs) of L. casei Shirota. A serving of Yakult contains 20 billion CFUs.

A 2011 study looked at constipation in patients with Parkinson’s Disease. This was a cross over study. The same participants first took a traditional dietetic therapy for constipation. Then they added L. casei Shirota to their regimen. After the probiotics, they had a significant number of days with stools of normal consistency, and reduced gastrointestinal symptoms (5).

A study done in 2021 looked at the effects of Lactobacillus paracasei strain Shirota on patients with depressive symptoms. This was a placebo-controlled, randomized, double-blind trial. Patients with depression had significantly improved constipation and depressive symptoms. Yakult made the drink used in this study. It contained 10 billion CFUs of bacteria (6).  

A study done in 2016 showed that Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota relieved abdominal discomfort in medical students who were exposed to stressful situations. Again, the drink used in the study was prepared by Yakult Corporation (7)

Benefits of Yakult for Mental Health

A study done in 2021 looked at the effects of probiotics on the anxiety levels, mood and fitness of badminton players at a Malaysian University. In this randomized, placebo-controlled study, participants drank either a fermented milk drink with Lactobacillus casei Shirota mixed with orange juice, or plain orange juice. The participants who drank the probiotic had significantly lower competitive anxiety levels, and an improved aerobic capacity. There is other research out there that backs up these findings (8). 

Another study on athletes was published in 2020. This one looked at anxiety among competitive football players, took place in Malaysia and also used orange juice as a placebo drink. The probiotic group had increased delta and theta brain waves that allowed for greater relaxation and focus during a game (9).

Even More Research on Yakult

Studies show that  Lactobacillus casei Shirota can speed up recovery time after a bone fracture (10) and reduce the incidence of infection among athletes (11).

Research also shows it can modulate the immune response in the respiratory tract of marathon runners (12), and promote and maintain healthy skin (13). 

FAQs About Yakult

Is it okay to drink Yakult every day?

As long as you can tolerate lactose and it does not cause bloating, you can drink Yakult everyday. In fact, you want to drink it regularly to get the probiotic benefits.

How Many Yakult Should I Drink in a Day?

You can drink one or two Yakult in a day. One bottle is more than equal to the amount of probiotic that was used in most of the research.

How Big is That Bottle?

Yakult comes in an 80 mL bottle, which is about 1/3 cup. The picture below shows it next to a 12 ounce can.

A bottle of Yakult next to a 12 ounce can for size reference.

How Do You Pronounce Yakult?

The emphasis is on the first syllable – YAA. The kult sounds just like the word cult. Here is a phonetic spelling: yaa·klt. If you want to hear it pronounced, just google “pronounce Yakult” and you will get a few recordings you can listen to.

Does Yakult Have Side Effects?

You might experience some bloating when you first take Yakult, if you are not used to probiotics. In this case, just back off to a smaller amount and increase gradually.

If you are lactose intolerant but can eat yogurt, you should also be able to drink Yakult. However, test this out slowly at first to make sure you don’t have any side effects. If you can’t tolerate milk-based yogurt, or are allergic to milk proteins, I don’t recommend that you drink Yakult.

Where Can I Buy Yakult?

Visit the YakultUSA website and punch in your city or zip code to find a store in your area where you can buy Yakult. You can find it in the refrigerated section near all the yogurts and fermented dairy products. 

Should I Drink Yakult With or Without Food?

The bacteria in Yakult are scientifically proven to be able to withstand stomach acid. This means that even if you take it with food, the bacteria should be able to make it down to your intestines intact. So you can take it any time of the day that you like.

What Does Yakult Taste Like?

Yakult tastes like a light milk with hints of sweet citrus. It is a really refreshing drink, and I often feel like I could drink a big glass of it instead of just that little bottle. Yakult Light actually tastes sweeter, probably because of the added stevia. 

Is Yakult Vegan?

No, Yakult is not vegan. It contains cows milk.

Last Morsels

A Japanese microbiologist discovered the strain of bacteria known as Lactobacillus casei Shirota back in 1930. He developed the product Yakult. Today, this probiotic drink is sold in over 40 countries at an affordable price.

You can buy the original version of Yakult, or Yakult Light, which has less sugar and a little bit of added fiber. You can take this fermented drink daily, with or without food. Be aware that Yakult contains cows milk.

The probiotic in Yakult has 90 years of research behind it. Studies have shown it can improve gastrointestinal symptoms and constipation, improve mental health and anxiety, speed up the healing process and improve skin health.

Would you like to learn more about how to take care of your gut? Sign up for my 9 week, online program, Simply Good Digestion. Just click the button below to learn more.

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