Ulcers, lactose intolerance and ulcerative colitis are just a few examples of conditions that can upset your stomach. If you've run the gauntlet of medical treatments for your stomach disorder without success, you may be skeptical of the effectiveness of something as innocuous as yogurt in easing your symptoms. However, health care professionals are increasingly acknowledging the effectiveness of the bacterial cultures present in yogurt in addressing numerous stomach disorders.
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Yogurt’s Friendly Bacteria
Certain types of bacteria ferment milk to create yogurt. Scientific validation of the beneficial effects of yogurt can be traced back to the early 1900s when Nobel laureate Elie Metchnikov mentioned them in his book, "The Prolongation of Life." Today, interest in the health qualities of yogurt remains high, as increasing evidence supports the use of probiotics, or beneficial microbes, in treating gastrointestinal conditions.
Not all beneficial bacteria have the same effects. In order to ensure that your yogurt will be effective in addressing your particular stomach problem, it must contain the specific strains of bacteria that have previously been shown by research to be helpful in treating that disorder. Some brands of yogurt list their specific strains of bacteria in the ingredients list. Consult the label to determine whether your yogurt contains the bacterial cultures that are right for your condition.
Stomach Disorders and Beneficial Bacteria
Lactose intolerance, a condition that results when your body doesn't manufacture the enzyme that breaks down milk sugars, may respond well to yogurts that contain the bacterial strain Lactobacillus delbreuckii bulgaricus and Lactobacillus delbreuckii lactis. Bifidobacterium longum is another strain that may help ease lactose intolerance. The symptoms of ulcerative colitis, which include nausea and abdominal cramps, may respond well to Lactobacillus cultures, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Lactobacillus johnsonii bacteria have a favorable effect on ulcers caused by Helicobacter pylori infection. Ulcers may also respond well to Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei and Lactobacillus lactis, according to a study published in "The Journal of Nutrition" in 2007.
Live, Active Cultures
In order for yogurt to achieve its probiotic effects, you must consume varieties that contain live, active cultures. Some yogurts are pasteurized, a process that kills bacteria and renders the beneficial effects of probiotics null. Read the labels on yogurt products to determine whether they contain live bacterial cultures.
- Communicating Current Research and Educational Topics and Trends in Applied Microbiology; Probiotics: 100 years after Elie Metchnikoff’s Observation; Kingsley C. Anukam et al.
- The Journal of Nutrition; Helicobacter Pylori and Probiotics; Drahoslava Lesbros-Pantoflickova et al.
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Ulcerative Colitis -- Treatment
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.