Yogurt is often at the top of the probiotic foods list. It's ubiquitous in kitchens around the world, providing an abundance of nutrients, as well as gut-healthy bacteria in as little as one serving.
For individuals over nine, three servings of milk, cheese or yogurt is recommended per day, though as little as one serving of yogurt contains probiotics.
Health Benefits of Probiotics
Our bodies contain multitudes of bacteria, carrying strains that are both good and bad. The role of probiotics, which are live microorganisms, is to protect the body against the "bad" bacteria. The strains of bacteria most commonly found in yogurt are Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus.
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According to Harvard Health Publishing, probiotics not only improve immune functioning, but also boost digestion and the absorption of nutrients. Furthermore, probiotics can offset a gut bacteria imbalance triggered by antibiotics, which can kill beneficial bacteria along with the harmful bacteria.
National Institutes of Health (NIH) explains that probiotics have been researched for the treatment of certain health conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome, certain types of diarrhea, obesity and a type of eczema called atopic dermatitis. Other conditions that have been studied in relation to probiotics, include ulcerative colitis, colic and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
Someone with one of the mentioned conditions may be advised to take probiotics, though health experts neither recommend nor advise against probiotics for healthy individuals.
A List of Probiotic Foods
There are a number of ways you can get probiotics besides the consumption of yogurt. Other fermented or cultured probiotic foods, according to Harvard Health Publishing, include:
- Fermented Milk
- Soy beverages
NIH adds kimchi, kombucha, sauerkraut, pickles and raw unfiltered apple cider to the list. Probiotics may also come in the form of a dietary supplement. If you're wondering whether to use probiotic supplements vs. yogurt for your probiotics intake, there are a few things to consider.
While yogurt mainly contains two strains of bacteria: Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus, supplements usually contain a mixture of bacteria. Whether you take a supplement, may depend on what type of bacteria you need and why you're taking it. A word of caution against supplements: not all probiotics supplements have been backed by research, so it may take some researching and investigating on your own when choosing the right supplement.
Read more: How to Lose Belly Fat With Yogurt
Yogurt Dosage and Risks of Probiotics
In terms of proper yogurt dosage, Dairy Council of California, recommends that individuals aged nine and over, consume three servings of milk, cheese or yogurt each day. Due to the wealth of probiotics in yogurt, yogurt-eaters may be concerned about a "yogurt overdose."
NIH points out that there are, in fact, side effects of probiotics, though they're generally minor gastrointestinal symptoms, such as gas, that can be resolved without treatment. Though for individuals with a serious underlying condition or compromised immune function, probiotics are not advised. Furthermore, since probiotics are considered dietary supplements, not drugs, they're not monitored by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, says Harvard Health Publishing.
A July 2017 paper in the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition, suggests a more stringent quality-control process for probiotics, as strains are often misidentified and misclassified, or products may be contaminated. Another paper in Plos One from December 2018 points out that not all probiotics will have the same effect, and you need to take certain factors into account, such as the probiotics source and strain type.
- NIH: "Probiotics"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "The Benefits of Probiotic Bacteria"
- Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition: "Commercial Probiotic Products: A Call for Improved Quality Control. A Position Paper by the ESPGHAN Working Group for Probiotics and Prebiotics."
- Plos One: "Choosing an Appropriate Probiotic Product for Your Patient: An Evidence Based Practical Guide"
- Dairy Council of California: "Nutrients in Yogurt"