According to Cleveland Clinic, probiotics are live bacteria and yeast that are beneficial because they help the digestive system and may also treat other health conditions. However, too much of a good thing can cause side effects, which is one of the disadvantages of yogurt.
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Looking at Yogurt Benefits
Yogurt has plenty of benefits. For one, it's a good source of protein. In the case of Greek yogurt that's been strained so it's thicker, USDA data shows one cup of nonfat plain contains 23 grams of protein, compared to just 13 in regular yogurt.
Additionally, probiotic blends may benefit digestive health. Most yogurt has been pasteurized with heat to kill bacteria, but this kills the good bacteria, too. To make sure you're getting probiotics, look at the label for "live, active cultures."
While it's tempting to say all yogurt is healthy, the reality is many yogurt benefits are lost once it has been flavored with artificial ingredients or has a ton of sugar added to it. Your best bet is to stick with plain flavors, adding your own fruit for sweetness and flavor. Pay close attention to the nutrition facts because each brand may have its own sugar content, even in plain flavors.
Read more: Are Probiotics Good for Gastritis?
Yogurt Side Effects
Yogurt itself, consumed regularly, doesn't present too many side effects. Most often, yogurt side effects come from consuming too much of the probiotic yogurt marketed to help various stomach and digestive issues.
Though most people do not experience yogurt side effects, one of the most common is a temporary increase in bloating and gas, as an October 2013 study in the Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility shows altered gut microbiota is one cause of those symptoms.
Health professionals don't know why some people experience the side effects, but they typically go away after a few weeks of regular use. To reduce the likelihood of yogurt side effects, start with a small amount and increase consumption regularly over a few weeks so that your body can adjust to the probiotic bacteria.
If bloating, gas or other side effects continue for more than a few weeks, stop eating the probiotic yogurt and talk with your doctor.
As a probiotic-rich food, yogurt, according to a May 2013 study in Food Chemistry, contains biogenic amines, which are substances that form when foods that contain protein are fermented by bacteria.
According to an October 2016 meta-analysis published in Headache, these substances are some of many in the diet that can excite the central nervous system, causing an increase or decrease in blood flow. As such, for people who are sensitive to the substance, headaches may occur, another one of the disadvantages of yogurt.
Read more: Probiotics on an Empty Stomach
Probiotics: Yogurt vs. Pills
When at all possible, it is better to get probiotics into your diet naturally through the consumption of yogurt or other probiotics and fermented foods. One of the disadvantages of yogurt though, according to the California Dairy Research Foundation, is it only tends to only provide a few strains of probiotics, such as Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. To get additional strains of probiotics, you'll need to turn to fermented foods or the various pill forms available on the market today.
If you want to broaden your horizons and add more fermented foods such as kefir, kimchi or sauerkraut to your diet, then you may be able to get more probiotics in your system naturally. However, for people who do not like these foods or have dairy allergies, taking a probiotic supplement as a pill with meals daily is better than completely forgoing natural probiotics found in food.
- Cleveland Clinic: "Probiotics"
- U.S.Department of Agriculture Branded Food Products Database: "Nonfat Plain Yogurt"
- U.S. Department of Agriculture Branded Food Products Database: Plain Greek Nonfat Yogurt
- Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility: "Abdominal Bloating: Pathophysiology and Treatment"
- Food Chemistry: "Biogenic Amines Formation in Streptococcus Thermophilus Isolated From homemade Natural Yogurt"
- Headache: "Diet and Headache: Part 1"
- California Dairy Research Foundation: "Are All Yogurts 'Probiotic Yogurts'?