Is Yogurt Good For Diabetes?

Yogurt is a widely consumed dairy product. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommend yogurt as part of a healthful diet. It's valued for its nutritional content, being an important source of vitamins A and B, calcium, and protein (via Healthline).

Unsweetened Greek-style yogurt is often touted as the healthiest due to its high levels of calcium and probiotics, per the Mayo Clinic. Probiotics help restore the balance of microorganisms that inhabit the intestines, strengthening immune functions (via Healthline). This might help reduce the risk of infections and systemic inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract, per Healthline. 

Type 2 diabetes is often associated with inflammatory reactions. Its development causes the body to become less sensitive to insulin, which leads to inflammation, per WebMD. A 2015 study published in the Journal of Food Science and Nutrition suggested that yogurt consumption might help reduce chronic inflammation by enhancing immune response, intestinal barrier function, and appetite regulation. Another 2014 study published in the journal Diabetologia also noted an association between the consumption of low-fat fermented dairy products and decreased risk of diabetes.

What's so special about yogurt?

You've probably noticed the term "live cultures" on the ingredients list of many yogurt containers. These live cultures vary in type and amount, depending on the yogurt brand (via MedicalNewsToday). Nevertheless, they're all associated with living bacteria — the type that is associated with good health, per MedicalNewsToday. During fermentation, these live cultures turn milk sugar (lactose) into lactic acid (via Scientific American). The end result is a fermented probiotic yogurt.

People living with diabetes might benefit from eating probiotic yogurt. Like most dairy products, it has a low glycemic index (GI), which makes it a good food choice for people with diabetes, per Healthline. The glycemic index describes the immediate effect of food on blood sugar levels (via Healthline). In other words, the rapid increase in blood sugar caused by glucose is used as a comparative value. Foods that cause a rapid increase in blood sugar have a glycemic index between 70 and 100. Foods that produce a flat and small rise in blood sugar after consumption have a GI below 55, per Healthline. Plain yogurt has a glycemic index of 14 (via Livestrong). 

Ingredients to look out for in yogurt

Paying attention to portion size is vital. Excessive consumption of yogurt will add more fat and calories to your diet, per MedicalNewsToday. Also, many yogurts contain added sugar. A 2016 survey published in BMJ Open found that only a small number (fewer than 9% for adults) were low enough in sugar. The results of this study might also apply to yogurts consumed in other countries.

As for yogurts containing artificial sugar substitutes, they're generally safe for people with diabetes and come in many varieties (via the Cleveland Clinic). However, a 2015 study published in the journal Current Gastroenterology Reports suggests a link between artificial sweeteners and weight increase. For this reason, it's vital to familiarize yourself with the ingredients on individual yogurt containers to ensure you're choosing the right product. When in doubt, have a word with your doctor, who can point you in the right direction.