Can Activia Yogurt Help You Poop? Here's What We Know

"Your gut is where it all begins, start with Activia," the Dannon brand proclaims on the front page of its website. This messaging is accompanied by a photo collage of smiling women — many of them donning the brand's signature green color — who appear to be living a healthy and happy lifestyle with the help of Activia products. While the brand's yogurt has long been promoted to support the health and happiness of our gut, we wanted to see if there was any science to back up whether Activia can help us when we're feeling, well, backed up.

If you're going number two less than three times a week, and when you do, your stool is small and hard rather than long and soft, these are signs of constipation. Approximately 4 million people across the country are well acquainted with constipation, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. So how might Activia help alleviate these uncomfortable symptoms? The company's products are said to contain billions of live and active probiotics. Ingestion of these microorganisms has been linked with enhanced digestive health, primarily by keeping our healthy gut bacteria nice and balanced (via Activia).

How Activia may help relieve mild constipation

Activia points out how probiotics can be found in a growing number of dairy products worldwide. Classified as a symbiotic food product, Activia yogurt contains both prebiotics and probiotics, according to a 2008 controlled trial published in Acta Gastroenterologica Latinoamericana. Out of more than 300 women between the ages of 18 and 55 (some diagnosed with functional constipation and others not), those with functional constipation who consumed Activia twice daily for two weeks experienced increases in bowel movement frequency, improvements in stool quality, and reductions in pain and strain. The study team concluded that consumption of symbiotic food items may be effective in managing constipation.

But do other experts feel the same way? According to a University of Michigan Health FAQ, when asked if Activia can alleviate constipation symptoms as they claim in their advertising, experts responded by saying that the products can indeed benefit patients with mild constipation.

Probiotics may only benefit those with gastrointestinal issues

While some research suggests there may be benefits to be gained from probiotics, such findings are not definitive. In fact, taking probiotics may not be advised for everyone. "There is no evidence to suggest that people with normal gastrointestinal tracts can benefit from taking probiotics," gastroenterologist Dr. Matthew Ciorba told Scientific American. "If you're not in any distress, I would not recommend them." The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health further notes that while the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may regulate probiotics when used as an ingredient in food items, those sold in the form of supplements go unregulated.

While the jury may still be out regarding the efficacy of probiotics, Mayo Clinic experts state there is more robust evidence suggesting that, instead, fiber may make pooping easier for us by softening and bulking up stool. Knowing this, Activia's fruit-flavored probiotic yogurt product with added fiber may be one to try to help move bowel movements along (via Activia).