Strong Evidence on the Positive Health Effects of Yogurt

Studies show that nutrient-dense yogurt may benefit individuals with lactose intolerance, constipation and diarrheal diseases, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and certain types of cancer.

Yogurt is one of those foods that never goes out of style and maintains a sparkling reputation. Nutritionists hail its high calcium and protein content, as well as its probiotic strains. Studies indicate its nutrient-dense food that may benefit individuals with lactose intolerance, constipation and diarrheal diseases, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and certain types of cancer. Several studies have found that yogurt consumption might also as associated with lower total fat and saturated fat intakes and body fat. A review published ahead-of-print in the journal Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition looks at yogurt’s role in obesity.

This research team is based at the University of Connecticut at Storrs. They remind us that obesity is often accompanied by chronic, low-grade inflammation perpetuated by adipose tissue and gut changes. As such, it may respond to yogurt’s bioactive components. They propose several mechanisms by which obesity changes the human gut and vice versa:

  • Microbiota dysregulation and impaired gut barrier function may increase endotoxin exposure.
  • Pathogens, inflammatory cytokines, endocannabinoids, diet, exercise, and gastrointestinal peptides can compromise intestinal barrier function, further exacerbating chronic inflammation.
  • Gut microbiota also contribute to energy homeostasis and fat storage.

Yogurt consumption may improve gut health and reduce chronic inflammation. Current research indicates that improved innate and adaptive immune responses, intestinal barrier function, and lipid profiles may contribute to better appetite regulation.

Conventional yogurt cultures have limited gut viability and may influence gut microbiota composition only marginally. The authors note that yogurt that retains its probiotics may have greater viability. This is in keeping with nutritionist recommendations to patients advising them to select high protein, low sugar yogurts.

Most previous studies have been conducted in animals or in populations other than the obese adult, so additional studies are needed. This manuscript’s strengths include the large number of studies include, and charts summarizing the evidence in appetite control, inflammation, and dyslipidemia.