Probiotics Yogurt: An In-Depth Look at One of the Most Popular Probiotic Foods

As gut health becomes more popular, yogurt has skyrocketed to center stage as one of the top gut health foods. Yet, you have to wonder, is all the hype around yogurt deserved? Do all brands make probiotics yogurt, or is this healthy treat just a sugary snack? Let’s take an in-depth look at this staple in a healthy gut diet plan.

General Health Benefits of Yogurt

Yogurt has long been used as both a food and medicine in many (no pun intended) cultures [1]. Only in modern times have we discovered that the key to many health benefits of yogurt is due to the probiotics yogurt contains.

probiotics yogurt
Probiotics FTW

Yogurt is an optimal choice for a healthy gut diet plan. That’s because it’s a fermented food. Therefore, yogurt is naturally enriched with beneficial bacteria.

On top of probiotics, yogurt also contains a ton of nutrients that are essential for the growth of beneficial intestinal flora in your gut biome. This sort of all-natural nutrition is precisely why we highly recommend probiotics yogurt to members of the Thryve Gut Health Program.

Nutritional Content of Yogurt

This live culture snack is packed with many essential vitamins and minerals that keep all systems a-go.

Nutritional content of full-fat or Greek probiotics yogurt includes [2]:

  • Protein
  • Healthy Fats (Omega-3 Fatty Acids)
  • Calcium
  • Phosphorous
  • B-Vitamins

Yogurt has been on and off lists that encourage healthy eating. Many look at the high-fat content in yogurt and grow concerned. However, there are many benefits to the healthy fats found in probiotics yogurt.

Yogurt Probiotics and Weight Loss

When people hear the word “fat,” they tend to tense up. However, we need fats to assist us with nutrient absorption, repair the gut lining to prevent GI problems, and to provide us with protein to build muscle. Also, this probiotic food can assist you with losing weight.

A study involving 18,438 women over 11.2 years found that the healthy fats in yogurt actually lowered the risk of obesity by 8% [3]!

The analysis stated,

“In conclusion, in this prospective study of middle-aged and older women with normal BMI at baseline, higher total dairy intake was associated with less weight gain.”

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

While the study looked at many high-fat dairy products, yogurt was one of the primary subjects. Yogurt may be a dairy product, but its nutritional profile is much different than that of whole milk. Much of that is due to the fermentation process altering the genetic makeup of the dairy.

Differences Between Yogurt and Milk

There are two primary reasons people turn to dairy products. Besides their delicious flavor, dairy products are fortified with two essential vitamins–Vitamin B1-2 and Vitamin D.

There are many differences between yogurt and milk

Naturally, yogurt has a lower concentration of B-12 than plain milk.
However, manufacturers can still add back in B-12. That’s what many plant milks do to appease the needs of vegans.

While milk has more natural B-12 content than yogurt, yogurt has a much higher amount of folate. Make sure to look at the nutrition label of each yogurt brand for an accurate representation of the vitamin and mineral content.

Lastly, yogurt also has elevated levels of conjugated linoleic acids (CLAs) since they are a byproduct of the fermentation process. CLAs reduce the risk of cancer and strengthen the immune system [4]. 

How Is Probiotics Yogurt Made?

Traditional yogurt is made from milk and two specific starter cultures, Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus [5]. The two bacteria work together to create a tangy and distinctive yogurt flavor.

Probiotics and Digestion of Food

Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus are beneficial bacteria for those who get GI issues such as diarrhea or constipation. These two bacteria assist people who are lactose intolerant with digesting yogurt.

The reason for this benefit is that part of the fermentation process causes L. bulgaricus and S. thermophilus to break down most of the lactose in yogurt [4].

One analysis of probiotics yogurt and gut health found:

“During fermentation of milk, lactose is partially hydrolyzed, which results in a lower lactose content in yogurt than in milk (2). However, this reduction in lactose may not be significant, because milk solids are usually added during processing. The greater tolerance of lactose from yogurt than of that from milk among lactose-intolerant subjects may be due to the endogenous lactase activity of yogurt organisms.”

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

While organic beings, these two beneficial bacteria are not typically found in the human gut biome. They cannot survive digestion, so they do not offer many probiotic health benefits [6].

Although our body doesn’t reap the nutritional benefits of Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus doesn’t mean they are useless. There are compounds produced by these bacteria that are found in fully-fermented yogurt that have nutritional benefits.

Additional Probiotics Yogurt Contains

Some probiotics yogurts have additional bacteria strains added to them that increase the probiotic benefits. The most common bacteria added besides the initial starter cultures are Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium [7]. These bacteria strains have some amazing health benefits since they are naturally found in the healthy human gut biome.

Increased Immune Function

L. acidophilus and Bifidobacterium help the body to produce many different compounds that stop pathogenic bacteria from colonizing the gut [8].

Studies have also shown that L. acidophilus can help the body to produce more white blood cells to defend it from attack by pathogens [9]. One analysis involving mice saw the benefits this probiotic bacteria had on the immune system.

Scientists concluded,

“Activation of the immune system began on the 3rd day, reached a maximum on the 5th, and decreased slightly on the 8th day of feeding. In the 8-day treated mice, boosted with a single dose (100 micrograms) on the 11th day, the immune response increased further.”

Immunology

This sort of reaction only strengthens the correlation between the gut-immune-axis.

Decreases Colon Cancer Risk

L. acidophilus, along with other strains of bacteria found in probiotics yogurt decreases the production of compounds produced in the gut biome that are associated with colon cancer [14]. This superpower of L. acidophilus is just another reason to break out the cultured yogurt.

Helps Ease Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Symptoms

Patients with IBD have much lower concentrations of both Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus bacteria in their gut than in healthy patients [10].

When patients supplemented with these two types of bacteria, they showed improvement in their IBD symptoms. Therefore, yogurt with these bacteria added in could potentially help in some cases to ease IBD symptoms.

How to Pick the Right Probiotics Yogurt?

There are many different types of yogurt on the market, and not all of them have the same health benefits. When you are shopping for yogurt to get the most probiotic health benefits, it’s essential to find yogurt incorporating L. acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bacteria.

Lost while shopping for probiotics yogurt?

Incorporating these bacteria into yogurt can be tricky since they have specific pH, temperature, and oxygen requirements to grow. Therefore, it is vital to look for the “live and active cultures” label on your yogurt if you want to get all the health benefits of L. acidophilus and Bifidobacterium.

In addition, make sure you are checking out how much sugar is in your yogurt. Many companies add sugar and high fructose corn syrup into their yogurt for taste.

Added sugar can take away from many of the health benefits of probiotics yogurt.

Opt for plain yogurt to avoid added sugar. After all, sugar is a natural byproduct of the fermentation process. However, you can always add toppings yourself later.

If it’s possible to buy organic yogurt, you should. Studies have shown that organic milk has a healthier fat composition than conventionally farmed milk [20]. Healthier milk makes healthier yogurt, and healthier yogurt makes a healthier you.

If you need help sifting through yogurt brands, join the Thryve Gut Health Program. We will help you rebuild intestinal flora that will power your mind, body, and digestive system.

Thryve Probiotics Gut Health

Resources

[1] Mauro, et al. “History of Yogurt and Current Patterns of Consumption.” OUP Academic, Oxford University Press, 11 July 2015, academic.oup.com/nutritionreviews/article/73/suppl_1/4/1819293.

[2] Buttriss, Judith. “Nutritional Properties of Fermented Milk Products.” Wiley Online Library, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd (10.1111), 9 Aug. 2007, onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1471-0307.1997.tb01731.x.

[3] Rautiainen, et al. “Dairy Consumption in Association with Weight Change and Risk of Becoming Overweight or Obese in Middle-Aged and Older Women: a Prospective Cohort Study.” OUP Academic, Oxford University Press, 24 Feb. 2016, academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/103/4/979/4662886.

[4] Ruiz, et al. “Conjugated Linoleic Acid of Dairy Foods Is Affected by Cows’ Feeding System and Processing of Milk.” Scientia Agricola, Scientia Agricola, www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0103-90162016000200103.

[5] Oskar Adolfsson, Simin Nikbin Meydani, Robert M Russell, Yogurt and gut function, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 80, Issue 2, August 2004, Pages 245–256, https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/80.2.245

[6] E Lerebours, C N’Djitoyap Ndam, A Lavoine, M F Hellot, J M Antoine, R Colin, Yogurt and fermented-then-pasteurized milk: effects of short-term and long-term ingestion on lactose absorption and mucosal lactase activity in lactase-deficient subjects, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 49, Issue 5, May 1989, Pages 823–827, https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/49.5.823

[7] “Yogurt as Probiotic Carrier Food.” International Dairy Journal, Elsevier, 21 June 2001, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S095869460100036X?via%3Dihub.

[8] Macpherson, A J, and D. Gatto. “A Primitive T Cell-Independent Mechanism of Intestinal Mucosal IgA Responses to Commensal Bacteria.” Science, 23 June 2000, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10864873.

[9] Perdigón, G, and M E de Macias. Systemic Augmentation of the Immune Response in Mice by Feeding Fermented Milks with Lactobacillus Casei and Lactobacillus Acidophilus. Immunology, Jan. 1988, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3123370.

[10] Fabia, R, and A Ar’Rajab . Impairment of Bacterial Flora in Human Ulcerative Colitis and Experimental Colitis in the Rat. Digestion. 1993;54(4):248-55., 1993, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8243838.

[11] Benbrook, Charles M., et al. “Organic Production Enhances Milk Nutritional Quality by Shifting Fatty Acid Composition: A United States–Wide, 18-Month Study.” PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0082429.