Early in my arthritis experience, I told my rheumatologist, "This is ridiculous. I need an arthritis medicine that won't cause diarrhea."

He replied, "No such thing, but I'll tell you what may help you." And his suggestion did help! In fact it totally solved the problem for me.

He told me to eat yogurt with ACTIVE bacteria in it. He emphasized that NOT ALL YOGURTS HAVE ACTIVE BACTERIA, in fact, I've found that most don't. Apparently, those active bacteria eat the stuff in my stomach that is causing diarrhea. (Sorry, I don't know the biological lingo, but that is my understanding of why this works for me.)

The key is to find the word ACTIVE (ending in an "E") on the label. I look for phrases like "active bacteria", "active ingredients", "active culture". It has to be the word active, not something that might mean active or might seem to indicate active. The yogurt absolutely has to have the word ACTIVE on the label.

The product I usually use is called DANNON Plain Yogurt. The container currently in my fridge says "contains active cultures". My doctor told me the brand didn't matter, but DANNON was the only brand I could find at my local grocer that said the word active. I know I have over-emphasized that, but there are lots of words on yogurt packaging that would fool me if this point hadn't been over-emphasized to me. The label must say "active".

Yogurt Label Needed to Stop Diarrhea

Since he gave me this tip to get rid of diarrhea, I have seen several yogurt companies marketing a similar aspect of yogurt while increasing the price. There was considerable backlash from consumers because the yogurt they were advertising did not have a regulating effect on every person that ate it. I didn't try those brands because I already knew the cheaper yogurt with active ingredients worked for me, so I can't really give an opinion on those brands. It's likely this doesn't work on everyone so those companies shouldn't have claimed that it did.

The active yogurt solution was the good news. The bad news is: I hate yogurt. I really hate yogurt. Not as much as I hate cottage cheese, but still, I hate yogurt. I can't make myself eat it. So what was I to do? The mandate was clear, I had to find a way to eat yogurt. (If you've never lived through two or three months with diarrhea every day, you may not appreciate the strength of resolve contained in that last sentence. But if arthritis medicines also affect you this way, I trust you understand.)

One afternoon, the TV was on in the next room and I overheard the word "yogurt". I immediately went to see what this was about. Bless her heart, Oprah came through for me! One of her guests was telling how to make a smoothie out of yogurt and fruit! I went to her web site and got the recipe they were discussing (unfortunately that recipe is no longer on her site). Over time I have totally changed the recipe to suit my own tastes, but I want to give Oprah credit for starting me down the right path.

I usually buy a single serving container of active yogurt, and put that in the blender first. Then I use the container to measure the milk and minimum amount of fruit. That saves me clean up. But if I buy a large container of yogurt, I have to measure the ingredients out with a measuring cup. Here's the way I make my smoothies:


Single serving container or 2/3 cup of yogurt with "active" on the label

Same amount of 2% milk

At least the same amount of peeled banana

At least the same amount of washed, cut strawberries without stems


1. Put ingredients in blender.

2. Turn it on to mix.

3. Pour smoothie into large glass over ice.

4. Drink.

The original recipe used a lower ratio of fruit, and I think it recommended blueberries instead of strawberries and bananas. I often use as many bananas and strawberries as will fit in the blender to make it more fruity. Oprah's recipe included ice chips, but that makes it too watery for me. Her recipe called for skim milk, but I use 2% milk or whatever kind of milk I have on hand. Also, her recipe included some protein powder so including protein / vitamin / fiber powders would be reasonable. I kept experimenting until I got a combination of ingredients in proportions that tasted good to me.

I always drink the smoothie right after I make it. I never store it, not even for a day. There's something about the thought of active bacteria and fruit in the same container that makes me think it probably doesn't store well. Also, I wash the blender right away. One time I forgot and the remains of the smoothie dried in the blender. I thought I would never get it clean.

Whenever diarrhea strikes, I make and drink this smoothie for breakfast for 2 or three days. That's all it takes to set things right for me. Just to be on the safe side, I drink them about once a month even when all is well. As I told my doctor, I'm way too young to put up with diarrhea every day for the rest of my life (and I'll still be too young for that when I'm 100).

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