Is Yakult Good for Lactose Intolerance?

This probiotic drink probably won’t cure your lactose intolerance, but it is generally considered safe for your consumption.

Know Your Yakult

Formulated by Japanese scientist Dr. Minoru Shirota in the early 1930s, Yakult is a fermented milk-based drink that has at least 6.5 billion Lactobacillus casei Shirota strain in every bottle. He found that this unique strain of probiotic or good bacteria are still alive when they reach your intestines, making Yakult a very potent beverage for improving your digestion and boosting your immunity.

Aside from this concentrated amount of probiotic strain, each bottle of Yakult has approximately only 1g of lactose so individuals with a mild case of lactose intolerance can still drink it without suffering any adverse effects.

Every bottle of Yakult also contains skimmed milk, sugar, glucose, water and natural flavouring. It does not have any colourings, preservatives or stabilisers. It comes in two variants: the original Yakult has the red foil cover and 8.8g of sugar, while Yakult Light has the blue foil cover and only 2.9g of sugar. Both variants are gluten-free.

Other than bloating for first-time Yakult drinkers, this fermented milk beverage does not have any side effects. The bloating that new Yakult drinkers experience is a natural result of the change in your gut bacteria levels and usually happens during the first week.

Know Your Lactose Intolerance

Lactose-intolerant individuals are usually advised to steer clear of dairy and milk products, and for good reason. Due to their bodies’ poor ability to digest lactose, symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating and diarrhoea are triggered after consuming lactose-containing foods and drinks.

But as with any health condition, lactose intolerance affects different individuals, differently. There are lactose-intolerant individuals who can consume a half-cup of milk or eat a small serving of yoghurt without suffering any digestive discomfort afterwards. There are also some who will spend the next hour or so in the toilet if they do ingest lactose, regardless of the amount.

This is where the value of working closely with your dietitian or nutritionist comes in. These qualified healthcare professionals can help you determine your type and level of food intolerance with greater accuracy. Once you know your level of lactose intolerance, it will be easier for you to manage your lactose intolerance symptoms.

Harmful for Those With Milk Allergy

Yakult is not advisable for individuals with a milk allergy because it has skimmed milk as one of its ingredients. Again, consulting with a qualified healthcare professional is the best way to know for sure whether your condition is a milk allergy, dairy allergy, or lactose intolerance.

Getting the proper diagnosis is critical to your safety and well-being. Allergic reactions to milk can range from mild skin rashes and itching to severe symptoms such as fainting, wheezing and anaphylaxis, which could be fatal. Lactose intolerance symptoms, on the other hand, usually involve abdominal pain, bloating and diarrhoea, and are not life-threatening.

Why are Probiotics Important

Probiotics help maintain the proper balance of good bacteria and bad bacteria in our digestive system. Their function is important because any imbalance of the two types of bacteria will compromise your health and immunity. This imbalance has shown a possible connection with various gut and bowel health conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), coeliac disease and inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. It may also be linked to type 1 and type 2 diabetes and obesity.

Probiotics and Lactose Intolerance

Studies show that probiotics are helpful in alleviating the symptoms of lactose intolerance. Certain types of lactic acid bacteria, namely Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus bulgaricus, may aid in the digestion of lactose found in fermented foods and beverages. This means lactose-intolerant individuals who consume these probiotics may experience considerable relief from their symptoms.

One American study found that the DDS-1 strain of Lactobacillus acidophilus significantly improved the abdominal pain, diarrhoea and vomiting scores of the lactose-intolerant participants from the experimental group compared to those in the control group. This positive result was found in participants after ingesting this for four weeks. The study also found no negative side effects for this particular type of probiotic.

A systematic review of 15 double-blind studies also showed a positive correlation between probiotics and lactose intolerance. Meanwhile, another systematic review revealed that there are particular strains, concentrations and preparations of probiotics with higher efficacy than others.

More studies need to be performed to identify and establish the effectiveness of different types of lactic acid bacteria. The good news is there is existing evidence that shows taking probiotics, which Yakult is one brand of, will most likely deliver positive results for healthy individuals and those diagnosed with lactose intolerance.

Manage Your Lactose Intolerance

Aside from drinking Yakult, there are other available methods for you to better deal with your lactose intolerance symptoms. Adjusting your diet, that is, limiting the amount of lactose-containing foods you consume, is one of the most recommended and effective ways you can consider. Choosing lactose-free versions of dairy products like Greek yoghurt is also an option.

You may also consider replacing your cottage and mozzarella cheese with cheddar and Parmesan. We recommend buying aged hard cheese instead of soft cheese products. Due to their longer aging process, hard cheese will have less lactose by the time you consume them.

If avoiding lactose-containing foods and drinks is not an option, make sure you always have lactase supplements with you. These supplements that come in pill or tablet form are formulated to help your body digest lactose better. Simply pop them in your mouth before you eat lactose-containing foods. Take note that you need to seek the approval of your trusted healthcare provider first if you can take lactase supplements. Pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers and young children may not be allowed to take these supplements.

Lastly, you may want to consider eating more probiotic-rich foods to give your gut health a boost. Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi, kombucha, miso and tempeh are rich in good bacteria that will keep you and your tummy happy and healthy.

Need Our Help?

Book an appointment with an accredited dietitian or nutritionist by phone on (07) 3071-7405 between 8am and 6pm Monday to Friday or send us an enquiry. Alternatively, discover how we can help you manage your Lactose Intolerance symptoms.