Yogurt may prevent and treat digestive diseases
Bacteria are more than just bad bugs lurking on doorknobs waiting to make you sick. Some fight on the side of good.
Right now, billions of bacteria are living in your intestines helping digest food and protecting you from harmful germs. Unfortunately, a round of antibiotics or a poor diet can kill off the good bugs. Without them, bad bacteria invade and take over, triggering all sorts of digestive problems. Eating yogurt restores your system’s natural balance by keeping unfriendly bacteria at bay.
The beneficial bacteria in your gut are some of the same kinds used to make yogurt. This treat replenishes the good bugs in your intestines with bacteria that have natural antibiotic and anti-inflammatory powers. Once in your gut, they fight off the troublemakers.
In this case, more is better. The more good bacteria the yogurt contains, the greater chance many will survive the stomach’s acid and make it to your intestines.
Each milliliter of brand-name yogurt contains around 125 million L. bulgaricus bacteria, as well as 125 million Streptococcus thermophilus bacteria, two of the friendly species responsible for digestive health. Yogurt manufacturers may also add other kinds of bacteria naturally found in your gut to further boost its healing powers.
Thanks to these disease-battling bugs, yogurt may prevent and treat many digestive illnesses.
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Ease intestinal inflammation
Take the case of acidophilus, a bacterium that normally lives in your colon. A round of antibiotics can kill it off, triggering intestinal inflammation accompanied by excessive gas, morning diarrhea, even hemorrhoid pain. Luckily, all of these symptoms respond to yogurt made with active acidophilus cultures.
Fight inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) with this yummy snack. Studies suggest a lack of microflora, the good bacteria in your gut, plays a major role in the development of IBD, including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Colon biopsies of people with Crohn’s show they have fewer Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium microflora than healthy people. Experts think this shortage leaves your digestive lining vulnerable to attack from disease- and inflammation-causing organisms. Yogurt, it seems, may prevent the onset of Crohn’s and colitis, as well as ease IBD symptoms.
Fight food poisoning
The live cultures in yogurt may treat, even prevent, this serious illness. This creamy dessert kills bacteria like Salmonella and E. coli in your colon, common culprits behind food poisoning. In lab experiments, Lactobacillus (L.) acidophilus stopped dangerous strains of E. coli and Salmonella from gaining a foothold in living cells.
In another study, researchers in the Netherlands fed rats either yogurt, milk, or acidified milk. The yogurt-fed rats fought off Salmonella infections better than the others. Other lab tests found yogurt killed 11 strains of Campylobacter jejuni, another bacterial cause of intestinal problems, in less than 25 minutes.
Put an end to ulcers
The good bacteria in yogurt also seem to help protect your stomach lining from H. pylori bacterium, the kind that causes ulcers and leads to gastritis. Certain yogurt bacteria, such as L. acidophilus and L. gasseri, actively fight back against H. pylori infections. Others destroy bad bacteria linked to gastritis. Yogurt may even ease the side effects of antibiotics used to treat ulcers.
Eat it to treat diarrhea caused by antibiotics or viruses. Experts suggest eating one or two 8-ounce containers of yogurt each day in addition to seeing your doctor.
Go easy on lactose intolerance
Yogurt is a great source of calcium if you are lactose intolerant. People lacking the lactase enzyme can often digest yogurt easier than other dairy products. Scientists suspect the active bacterial cultures help your body break down the lactose.
But wait. There’s more.
Epidemiologic studies suggest fermented dairy products could lower your risk of colon cancer. And a new Italian study found that elderly people who ate yogurt had less severe stomach and intestinal infections and recovered faster than those who didn’t. It’s hard to find a better all-around digestive remedy, especially one with no significant side effects. So bone up on the best-tasting tummy tamer money can buy.
5 things you should know about yogurt
It’s hard to go wrong with a food that tastes so good and is so good for you. Follow this advice for the most healthful benefits.
- Buy yogurt with the latest expiration date. The good bacteria weaken as the product ages.
- Store it in the refrigerator in its original container for up to 10 days.
- Shop for yogurt without added sugar if you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Many IBS sufferers have trouble absorbing sugar.
- Enjoy it straight from the carton, add fruit, or mix it with cereal. You can cook with it, but heat will kill the helpful bacteria.
- Try frozen yogurt if you don’t like the regular kind, but realize it may have fewer live bacteria and possibly fewer health benefits.
Read more great things about yogurt in Yogurt helps you lose belly fat.
- FC&A Staff Writer