Have you ever noticed on the back of yogurt containers the phrase “contains live and active cultures” and the names of those “cultures”? You are probably most familiar with Lactobacillus, but did you know there are many species of probiotics as well as many more strains within these species? These various probiotics have different effects in your body. You can think of them as individual medicines. Probiotics have been shown to have a multitude of beneficial effects in humans, but the effects are specific to each species. Consumers need to be aware of what effects they are seeking in a probiotic product and not assume that the container of yogurt is going to be enough.
In 2005 Dannon released Activia in the US market. You will probably recall Jamie Lee Curtis touting the benefits of Activia. Without getting into the research behind the probiotic strain they used in Activia, Bifidus regularis, what resulted from this marketing campaign was the misconception that this yogurt (or any one functional food) could be a probiotic panacea – eating a container of yogurt would solve all your health issues.
We completely support eating real-whole foods that naturally contain probiotics (kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut, etc), but recognize they are a part of a larger diet, a diet that supports one's overall health. Because probiotics have strain specific effects I can’t assume the bottle of kombucha I just bought is going to improve my mood (which is unfortunate as I’m rather grouchy from a delayed flight). The medical and scientific community recognize the specific effects of probiotics and I assure you there will be more prescription probiotics in the near future as the pharmaceutical industry begins to patent specific strains. The point is this: eat probiotic foods for your overall good health, but consume specific probiotics for your specific goals. If you're an athlete (and you know you are!) and you want to avoid getting sick, improve your gut function, and increase nutrient absorption – well you've found the right place.