This Is Why Yogurt Is So Good For Gut Health

Yogurt is a product typically made from the milk of cows through the process of fermentation, as per MedicalNewsToday. It is a fairly simple process, which involves taking milk or cream and pasteurizing it before adding a number of bacteria cultures that ferment the milk. These cultures are allowed to grow under incubation. The result is a custard consistency that tastes slightly acidic given the lactic acid produced throughout fermentation. As long as the yogurt isn't heated after fermentation is complete, it will naturally contain bacteria strains — also referred to as probiotics — that are beneficial for gut health. Live bacteria can also be added afterward.

Those who consume yogurt on a regular basis will enjoy various health benefits, according to WebMD. The probiotics found in yogurt can reduce the symptoms associated with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) while also strengthening the immune system. Studies have shown that probiotics can significantly reduce the amount of time an individual suffers from gastrointestinal and respiratory infections. Additionally, yogurt is chock-full of nutrients, namely vitamin D and calcium, which are great for bone health. 

Those with high blood pressure can also benefit from eating yogurt (per WebMD). Dr. Alvaro Alonso conducted a study that "observed a 50% reduction in the risk of developing high blood pressure among people eating 2-3 servings of low-fat dairy a day (or more), compared with those without any intake."

The most important benefit to eating yogurt, however, has to do with gut health.

Yogurt fortifies the gut microbiome

The gut microbiome is essential to overall health, as per Healthline. It consists of microorganisms, including bacteria and fungi, that number in the trillions. A diverse microbiome assists in many crucial bodily functions, including digestion, central nervous system function, and immune cell communication. 

Studies have shown that an unbalanced gut microbiome can lead to weight gain (via Healthline). Additionally, intestinal diseases like IBD and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) have been linked to an imbalance in the gut microbiome. A 2015 study published in Circulation Research found that the gut microbiome even influences heart health, specifically in promoting heart-healthy HDL cholesterol and triglycerides.

To ensure the ongoing health of the gut microbiome, it is important to regularly consume probiotics, as per MedicalNewsToday. Yogurt isn't just naturally full of probiotics, but many brands also contain the bacterial strain, Lactobacillus acidophilus. This bacteria has been clinically shown to benefit microbial metabolism, a critical component of maintaining a well-balanced gut microbiome, according to a 2013 study in BMC Gastroenterology. This probiotic aids in digestion by breaking down sugars found in foods, as per MedicalNewsToday. Lactobacillus acidophilus also kills off harmful germs by promoting an acidic environment. 

Another important probiotic found in yogurt is Lactobacillus casei, which also works to improve digestion and help the body absorb nutrients, according to Healthline. A 2007 study published in the British Medical Journal suggests that Lactobacillus casei can reduce diarrhea caused by both antibiotics and harmful bacteria found in the gut.