7 Wonderful Health Benefits Of Yogurt

health benefits of yogurt

It’s as early as 6000 BCE when the Neolithic people started using animal milk as a food item that yogurt and fermented milk became a part of the diet. It is believed that yogurt was the result of an accident–when people used bags made from sheep gut or skin to store the milk which became fermented due to the bacteria present in the skin.1 Since then, this form of fermented milk has been in use across the globe including Asia, Middle East, certain European countries, and the Southeast Asia.

Yogurt, which is made by fermenting milk with lactic acid bacteria, has a high concentration of proteins, vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin B2 and B12, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and zinc. In fact, low-fat yogurt has 50 percent more potassium, calcium, and magnesium than low-fat milk. That is why yogurt offers a healthy

option to heavier and richer dressings and toppings. It actually improves your diet quality and body metabolism. It also lowers systolic blood pressure and insulin resistance in the body and controls triglycerides levels as well.2

Yogurt As A Probiotic

One interesting fact many of us are not aware of is that the type of bacteria used to ferment and make the yogurt decides its quality and the health benefits it offers. According to the National Yogurt Association, standard yogurt is made by adding the live culture of Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus to pasteurized milk. These bacteria do not actually inhabit our gut but stimulate the friendly microflora already present there. By doing this, they help maintain the general intestinal health. This type of yogurt is called the standard culture yogurt.3

Then you have the probiotic yogurt or

bio yogurt which is made with the probiotic strains of Bifidobacteria, Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus casei. These probiotic bacteria have anticarcinogenic properties and offer benefits like improving lactose tolerance, reducing serum cholesterol, and boosting overall immune system.4

Over the years, many studies have been done that show that Lactobacillus acidophilus, the bacteria used to ferment the milk to make yogurt, has a positive effect on our health because it can prevent intestinal infections.5

The probiotic strain of bacteria offers specific health benefits as they are similar to the beneficial microflora present in our gut. The probiotic yogurts have sweeter, milder taste and creamier texture. The bio yogurt aids in digestion and promotes general good health, as long as the probiotic strains get the chance to stay alive in your gut for a certain period.6

There are many health benefits to having yogurt daily. Here are some:

1. Promises Better Gut Health

We see that every time you suffer from some stomach ailment or the other, whether it is gastrointestinal, diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome or constipation, you are always asked to add yogurt to your diet for a certain period of time. This is because clinical studies have shown that the Lactobacillus and Streptococcus species of good bacteria present in yogurt improve the quality of gut microflora, bowel transit, and enhance the gastrointestinal immune system.7

Moreover, consuming yogurt daily also helps people who are lactose intolerant. It is seen that lactose intolerant people are able to digest the lactose in yogurt better since it has lactic acid bacteria that restores the pH balance of the gastrointestinal or

GI tract. In fact, it was seen that yogurt took longer to acidify than milk in the GI, thus, preventing acidity in the person.8

This happens because the bacterial lactase in the yogurt survives the acidic conditions of the stomach since it is protected within the bacterial cells. And as the pH increases when the yogurt enters your small intestine, a slow transit of the dairy product through your GI tract allow the bacterial lactase to be active, digesting lactose from yogurt to prevent any acidic reaction.9

Eating yogurt also helps in easing constipation. Studies show that when you eat unflavoured probiotic yogurt daily in the morning, it eases the colonic transit and regularize bowel movements.10

2. May Help In Weight Loss

You will see that almost all dieticians and nutritionists helping you to lose fat, or manage your bodyweight will recommend taking low-fat yogurt as a snack. This is because low-fat yogurt not only improves your gut health and, thereby, your digestion, but it also helps you maintain an ideal weight. In a random trial, it was seen that overweight men who added a good amount of yogurt in their diet were able to reduce their waistline considerably and lower their body weight. They gained less weight as well.11 This is because yogurt offers higher levels of satiety so you feel fuller longer.12

3. Protects Heart By Keeping It Healthy

Having yogurt daily also reduces serum cholesterol concentration which in turn reduces your risk of heart disease. In fact, it is suggested that regular intake of yogurt with Lactobacillus acidophilus can reduce your risk of heart disease by up to 10 percent.13

Moreover, probiotic yogurt also helps in decreasing total cholesterol levels and reducing LDL cholesterol concentration and triglycerides. So it is safe to say that people with diabetes mellitus type 2 should add yogurt in their diet to keep a check on their cholesterol levels and to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.14

4. Prevents Colorectal Cancer

Lactobacillus and Streptococcus thermophilus, both powerful probiotics in yogurt, can actually prevent colorectal cancer. In a research on the effect of yogurt in preventing cancer, done over a period of two years, it was seen that yogurt could prevent the onset of cancer and stimulated the immune system. In fact, more men than women showed high positive results during the study. That is why the doctors now suggest that yogurt should be a part of your diet to prevent colorectal cancer.15

5. Boosts Body’s Immune System

It is a known fact that regular gastrointestinal infections can have a detrimental effect on the body’s immune system. This is even more so for people tested HIV positive. Since bio yogurt improves overall health conditions, it was seen in a clinical study that probiotics can also prevent gastrointestinal infection in HIV-positive people and restore their gut barrier, and normalize gut functions. This, in turn, has a very positive impact on the overall immune system of a person. In fact, the CD4 count (the measure of immune function of people with HIV/AIDS) increases in people with HIV/AIDS when they have yogurt supplemented with lactobacillus rhamnosus on a daily basis.16

6. Treats Yeast Infections In Women

Vaginitis and yeast infection of the vagina caused by the candida virus is a very common gynecological complaint among women of the reproductive age. Research shows that more women visit a gynae for treating this infection than for any other reason.17 One of the alternative treatments for chronic cases of yeast infection is eating yogurt. Clinical studies show that taking yogurt with Lactobacillus acidophilus – the probiotic strain – helps alleviate the infection and related symptoms like itchiness.18

Not just that, the daily intake of yogurt also improves the cellular function in women. Yogurt actually helps in increasing the number of cytotoxic lymphocytes or killer cells that protect other cells from cancer, and various viral infections. This strengthens the overall immunity of the cells as well as the body.19

7. Improves Skin And Hair

It is quite evident that the lactic acid bacteria in yogurt have many beneficial effects on our overall health. Since it helps clear our gut, and improve our digestion, the impact is quite evident on our skin and hair. Clean gut means clear, fresh-looking skin. When you are regular about eating yogurt, it also improves the follicular count on your hair. The new growth actually looks more lush and shiny. The probiotics in the yogurt are responsible for this.20

In a clinical test, it was seen that bio yogurt not only clears you from the inside but also shows its healthful effect on the outside. During the trial, it was seen that persistent constipation or irregular bowel movement led to bad skin conditions like acne, pigmentation and aggravated oiliness. So when the volunteers started a diet with yogurt on a daily basis, they got good results. The probiotic strain in the yogurt helped clear up the gut health and improve overall bowel movement. As a result, over 80 percent of the skin pigmentation was reduced, and moisture levels in the skin increased by 114 percent. Skin looked better and healthier.21

Not just that, traditionally applying yogurt on the skin as a face mask is a very common beauty practice across cultures – the skin looks clear and feels more supple. We now have proof that the lactic acid bacteria in yogurt plays a major role in improving skin conditions. Those with very dry skin conditions like atopic dermatitis get softer, more hydrated skin with regular yogurt application as a mask. This is because the lactic acid bacteria helps in increasing the skin ceramide count which in turn reduces the dermatitis conditions.22

In fact, using yogurt as a face mask on a regular basis on any skin type is very beneficial. It reduces pigmentation and evens out patchy skin tone, restores skin elasticity and moisture balance of the skin by preventing transepidermal water loss. So your skin feels supple, looks brighter and well hydrated.23

Snacking On Yogurt

So how should you add yogurt in your diet? It can be had as a drink, with fruits, or as a snack between two big meals. In fact, it was seen that eating yogurt as a snack reduces hunger and helps you feel full for longer. This way you needn’t worry about cravings. According to research, you should opt for high-protein yogurt like Greek yogurt as it offers better benefits than low-protein ones.24