Lifewatch: Probiotics

CHARLOTTE -- A beneficial bacteria has become a popular additive in various kinds of food.

But, will the bacteria known as, probiotics, really make you healthier?

Singer Joy Bellis is a probiotics devotee.

Her daily routine has included a dose for several years, ever since she suffered digestive problems.  She noticed improvements after about six months.

"I did feel like I didn't have as many digestion problems," said Bellis.

Bellis has always taken her "good germs" in the traditional supplement form, but now, the special strains are being added into all kinds of products: yogurt, cottage cheese, and cereal.

Nutritionist Lisa Drayer has been keeping a careful eye on the emerging body of research on probiotics.

She said studies show they can boost immunity, ward off infections, and ease symptoms of lactose intolerance.  She also said you have to read containers carefully though, because each bacteria has a different effect.

For example, Activa Yogurt contains a specific strain for a specific gastro intestinal problem.

"Basically Activia helps accelerate the transit time when it's slow, it has no effect if you have a normal transit time," said Dr. Miguel Freitas the Dannon Scientific Affairs Director.

Dannon's other product, DanActive, has a different strain and comes with a different claim.

"Everyday challenges like active life, stress, lack of sleep, can weaken your body's defenses and that's where DanActive can help," said Dr. Freitas.

While it is popular, not everyone is a believer.

Dannon is facing a class-action lawsuit over its health claims.  Those suing agree there is research that backs up certain benefits of probiotics, but argue sweeping claims are deceptive.

Dannon is challenging the lawsuit.  They claim that as long as their products are stored properly in the fridge, the work.

Reported by Kristy Ondo