DanActive - How Many Names Does One Good Bacteria Need?

What a fiasco DanActive yogurt has become! I don't mean the product. Nothing wrong with it so long as you actually want that much sugar in your yogurt drink - and can afford it.

No I mean the fiasco Dannon (or Danone depending on what country you're in) have created with their trademarked names.

And it's all such a shame because this is actually a good probiotic bacteria.

In case you are not up with this - the product called DanActive in the USA contains a strain of Lactobacillus casei which Dannon have called Immunitas. It already had a perfectly respectable scientific name Lactobacillus casei DN-114001 - a bit of a mouthful to be sure but everyone knew which bacteria it was.

Now in Canada, DanActive contains L casei Defensis but if you ferret about you'll discover that this too is simply Lactobacillus casei DN-114001.

In the UK, Spain and Italy DanActive is called Actimel and the strain of bacteria is now called L casei Imunitass. (note it is a different spelling to the USA but it is still the same strain)

In France and Sweden it is called Actimel containing L casei Defensis.

This is all the same fermented drink containing the same good bacteria.

Why can't they leave the flippin' name alone and stop confusing us all!

Okay - I've calmed down again.

If you're drinking either DanActive or Actimel, and whether it says it contains Lactobacillus casei Defensis, Lactobacillus casei Imunitass or L casei Immunitas, you are consuming 10 billion bacteria of L casei DN 114001 as well as the 2 standard yogurt "starters" Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus.

And hats off to Dannon that, despite renaming this bacteria, they are quite up front about its real identity. There are still a number of manufacturers that refuse to tell consumers what they're eating.

You can buy it in around 26 countries and the marketing gurus tell me that we drink about 6 million bottles a day. So obviously, a lot of us like it!

DanActive comes in 5 flavors - Strawberry, Vanilla, Blueberry, Cranberry Raspberry and Plain. It is a fermented drink rather than a yogurt.

The plain contains the least amount of "other" ingredients but even it has 15 grams of sugar.

The amount of sugar that is put in the DanActive fermented drink is of some concern. I usually worry more about the probiotics than the sugar but 17 grams of sugar in a little 3.3 fluid ounces (100 mls) is A LOT of sugar.

However, this bacteria IS beneficial for many people with digestive upsets.

This is what Ann from the USA told me.

"I want to mention something about Dan Activ. It's eliminated my fibromyalgia pain. Other yogurts might do the same. I started with an acidophilus and am trying different ones, but Dan Activ works great. Vitamin D3 also has helped and I started them a few weeks apart. Lactic acid (via the probiotic yogurts) is the key factor for fibromyalgia. I was diagnosed with a pelvic floor problem, but realized later that it is fibromyalgia, as it started after pelvic surgery. I had fibro in another area of the body 20 years ago, so I know what the spasming pain feels like. It took 3 yrs to get over the earlier episode. Because of a bladder condition I was told not to eat any yogurt, as it is too acidic. But in the end, no yogurt made it worse and yogurt fixes makes it all feel better."

A number of people have told me it makes a good starter for making yogurt. One recipe was using half a bottle of DanActive yogurt and 2 quarts of milk and half a can of sweetened condensed milk.

The probiotic Lactobacillus casei DN 114001 (which is in all of those various named products above) has been researched and found to be useful for some folk. If you've found it useful simply ignore all this silliness about its name and continue to drink it.

Taking it reduced the SEVERITY although not the occurrence of severe diarrhea in children in one study1 although a different study found that it did reduce the occurrence of diarrhea in children when compared against normal yogurt2. (DanActive is not suitable for children under 3 years of age.)

This is slightly at odds with the fact that in some people it has caused diarrhea and an upset stomach. It's a popular home remedy for constipation (as is Activia.)

My advice is to start off by taking a very small amount daily for several days so that your intestinal tract can become accustomed to this sudden influx of good bacteria.

Too many bacteria - whether they're good or bad - can give you a feeling of being bloated, wind, stomachache, even quite bad diarrhea until your body gets used to them. Don't let that put you off.

Remember, many, many people have enjoyed DanActive and found it helpful for gastrointestinal problems.

A 3 week study on elderly found that this probiotic bacteria reduced the severity of both gastrointestinal and respiratory winter ills although it did not stop the occurrence of infection3.

DanActive, as the product Actimel, has been very popular in Europe for years.



1. CA. Pedone, AO. Bernabeu, ER. Postaire, CF. Bouley, P. Reinert. The effect of supplementation with milk fermented by Lactobacillus casei (strain DN-114 001) on acute diarrhoea in children attending day care centres. Int. J. Clin. Pract., Apr.-May 1999; 53 (3): 179-184.

2. CA. Pedone, CC. Arnaud, ER. Postaire, CF. Bouley and P. Reinert. Multicentric study of the effect of milk fermented by Lactobacillus casei on the incidence of diarrhea. Int. J. Clin. Pract., Nov. 2000; 54 (9): 568-571.

3. P. Turchet, M. Laurenzano, S. Auboiron, J.M. Antoine. Effect of fermented milk containing the probiotic Lactobacillus casei DN-114 001 on winter infections in free-living elderly subjects: a randomized, controlled pilot study. Journal of Nutrition, Health and Aging, 2003; 7 (2): 75-77.