Q. I recently read about a study showing that probiotics protected kids from getting the flu. It seemed like a pretty powerful study in favor of the health benefits of yogurt, at least in kids. Do you have any recommendations for a reasonable “dose” of yogurt would be for an adult?
A. Yes, I noted that study with interest as well. The kids (about 300 of them, aged 3 to 5) were taking probiotic supplements or placebo pills twice a day. The kids getting the probiotics had about half as many fevers, coughs, and runny noses, took fewer prescriptions and missed fewer days of school.
We should note that the study was funded by a company that makes probiotic products. That said, the results were published in a peer-reviewed journal (Pediatrics) so the study design apparently passed muster.
See also: Can we Trust Industry Funded Research?
There’s no RDA for probiotics for kids or adults so it’s hard to say what a good”dose” might be. Most probiotic supplements contain 10 to 20 billion active cultures per dose at the time of manufacture. Yogurt that carries the “Live and Active Cultures” seal is certified to contain at least 100 million cultures per gram at the time of manufacture, which translates into about 22 billion live cultures in an eight ounce cup of yogurt.
So, I’m thinking that a single serving of yogurt every day would be a reasonable start for kids and adults. But the amount of sugar (often high fructose corn syrup) in sweetened yogurts is shocking. I’d advise you to steer clear of sweetened (and artificially-sweetened) yogurts and go for the plain yogurt. Sweeten (if you must) with fruit or a drizzle of honey.
Can yogurt protect you (or your kids) from getting the flu this season? Might help and can’t hurt (unless you’re lactose intolerant).