Product Type: Danone Dessert / Yoghurts
Newest Review: ... things about this particular drink is that it only contains 30 calories per bottle. Now Danone do advertise that if you drink a bottle o... more
Fluxboxer Plays The Mad Scientist
Danone Actimel Original 0.1%
Danone Actimel Original 0.1%
Date: 19/02/03, updated on 02/05/03 (7111 review reads)
Advantages: Unbelievable wide range of benefits to the digestive and immune system.
Disadvantages: The orange flavour is a bit vile (stick to the original).
INTRODUCING L.CASEI IMUNITASS®
The abbreviated L is short for: Lactobacillus - a rod shaped bacteria. Casei identifies this particular strain of Lactobacilli bacterium. Imunitass is a label; a buzzword if you like. It identifies this strain of L.Casei as one refined by Danone (manufacturers of Actimel) and is also no doubt an advertising ploy to ensure consumers relate the product to the immune system. So, give an advertiser some unique bacteria, and a trademark is born.
Considering strains of Lactobacilli naturally occur in the human body, it's a bit late to start worrying about the bacterium in general. Besides, one strain (Lactobacillus bulgaricus) has been traditionally used in making yoghurt for years. The only thing that's changed is the advertising approach. Even germs can be marketed, provided they are good germs. The fact is, they are nothing new, and it's actually refreshing to see a yoghurt market vigorously competing to provide more beneficial probiotic bacterium in their products.
Consider the PR hype: "Drinking Actimel is a delicious way to reinforce the body against the stresses associated with a busy lifestyle, that can provoke intestinal irregularities."
Surprisingly, considering the PR spin put on everyt
hing thesedays, Danone are telling the truth. For a start, the L.casei culture naturally reinforces resistance to Salmonella, inhibits the growth of pathogenic germs like Shigella sonnei (a form of gastroenteritis) and increases protection against dysentery. Besides all that, it also aids in the prevention of certain kinds of diarrhoea and has an immunomodulating effect on the immune system. Translated: it stimulates the formation of antibodies. Simplified: it boosts your immune system. Incredible!
TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE?
In honesty, the first I'd heard of probiotics was when my German Shepherd pup (Keller) had recurring diarrhoea at nine to eleven weeks old. One foolish vet had given him antibiotics which destroyed all the good fauna in his gut as well as the bad. That left Keller susceptible to further infections and my wallet vulnerable to a greedy man. Upon finding another vet I was given an expensive probiotic formula which reintroduced good fauna and cleared the problem in just a few hours. I was told to "give Keller a little Actimel or another probiotic supermarket product if it happens again." It didn't happen again.
More recently (during October last year), I was finally diagnosed with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). I say 'finally' because diagnosis is not a quick, short process. Unlike the hordes jumping on the IBS bandwagon at the slightest tummy upset, my diagnosis was attained correctly through invasive (quite embarrassing) procedures. IBS has so many symptoms in common with more serious diseases like diverticulitis and (more worryingly) bowel cancer, that these must be completely ruled out before IBS can be diagnosed (and even then, the diagnosis is based on a lot of assumption). Thankfully my cancer scare dissolved with the IBS diagnosis and once my trigger foods had been alienated, I still found myself with a sensitive tummy. My gastroenterologist recommended a daily dose Actimel over
medicinal probiotic alternatives and after four days of use, my tum was feeling fine again.
So, it's interesting to note that Actimel is not only endorsed by vets, but also NHS registered gastroenterologists. After a few months on Actimel, I can occasionally indulge in one or two trigger-foods and they rarely cause discomfort. I suspect this is because of the immunomodulating effect, but in fairness, it's a rare occasion that I'm tempted by my trigger-foods.
Actimel bottles are actually quite bland; rather like tiny milk bottles with a silver pull-off top. They don't jump off the shelf at you, which is a shame considering the money that seems to have gone into other aspects of the product (such as the refinement of the active ingredient discussed above). It does scream 'health supplement' though, so perhaps blandness is the correct approach. An in-your-face design might have made consumers more skeptical; more likely to assume it's all hype.
Competitively priced at £1.29 for a carton of four 100g bottles, Actimel is unlikely to significantly dent your weekly shopping budget. If you intend to replace your daily yoghurt with it, you're unlikely to notice a difference at all. And although there's a palatable adjustment to make when switching from a yoghurt to a yoghurt drink, it doesn't take long to adjust to the taste and consistency.
Of the two flavours available, original is my preferred. Upon drinking, the skimmed milk and dextrose pleasantly glides across the tastebuds before the yoghurt content makes its presence felt by producing a slightly bitter aftertaste. It lingers at the back of the mouth for a minute or so and although I hated this at first, I got to appreciate it after three or four days of drinking it. To me, this aftertaste is the Actimel signature; it's an acquired taste.
The orange flavoured variet
y is far less agreeable (for me at least) and seems rather a clash of ingredients. Although probably intended to please those who have an aversion to yoghurts, it's hardly a milkshake. As soon as it reaches the back of my mouth, it makes me gag. The aftertaste is a gel of yoghurt and artifical orange flavouring. It's just not natural!
Despite my aversion to the orange flavour, I'm still going to award Actimel five stars because flavouring is not only an individual preference, but an alternative is available. As far as the original drink is concerned, it's very difficult to condemn due to the astonishing health benefits attributed to L.casei. The trademarking of bacteria in Actimel is an indication of refinement rather than genetic modification or mutation, so as far as safety is concerned: it's no more dangerous than other unpasteurised yoghurts that have been around for years.
So - Frankenstein in a pot - this is not. And it goes without saying: I thoroughly recommend it.
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