Health benefits of probiotic yoghurt and fermented milks
Sufficient quantities of live active cultures in fermented milk products can contribute to restoring the correct balance of intestinal flora, boosting the immune system, preventing gastrointestinal infections, aid in digestion and help to ease other health disorders. All yoghurt and fermented milks are not beneficially equal. Health benefits depend on the species and strain of the bacteria in question.
Depending on the strain, many different positive effects have been demonstrated, including:
Alleviation of lactose intolerance
Lactase is the sugar found in milk and dairy products and is normally processed by the digestive enzyme lactase, which breaks it down into simple sugars. Some people lack or do not have sufficient amounts of lactase to process lactose, which passes in the gut undigested and can cause gastrointestinal disorders, such as cramps, bloating and diarrhea. Yoghurt offers a very important advantage: it allows for the easy digestibility of lactose. The live microorganisms found in yoghurt act on lactose, predigesting it and converting it to a more digestible form. Those who suffer from lactose intolerance are able to consume this fermented milk as a substitute to milk and other dairy products, benefiting from nutrients that they would otherwise lack. Probiotics including L. bulgaricus
help those with this condition.
Help to alleviate diarrhea
Diarrhea can be caused by viral infections or the infiltration of pathogenic bacteria into the gastrointestinal tract. Yoghurt and fermented milks that contain live culture, notably L.rhamnossus GG
, L.reuteri L.acidophilus
can play a helpful role in restoring the imbalance of micro flora in cases of diarrhea resulting from antibiotic treatment. Probiotics have proven to be beneficial in cases of acute diarrhea in young children (rotavirus diarrhea).
Fortification of the immune system
The human immune system is the body’s defense mechanism which protects against infections and diseases, 70% of which is located in the gut. Probiotic yoghurt and fermented milks that contain agents such as L.casei
have shown to stimulate cellular immunity.
Alleviation of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
IBD is an inflammation affecting the small intestine, leading to diseases such as Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis. Pain, vomiting, diarrhea or fever are some of the conditions of IBD. There is no clear understanding of the causes, but it is generally accepted that intestinal bacterial flora contributes to IBD. Research currently shows that probiotics can positively impact and modify the microbiota in the gut and attenuate IBD. L. casei
, L. Bulgaricus
, L. acidophilus
, L. rhamnosus GG
are among the probiotics to show positive effects.
Alleviation of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
IBS is a gastrointestinal bowel disorder that causes chronic abdominal pain, excessive gas, bloating, constipation and diarrhea. It has been observed that sufferers of irritable bowel syndrome have abnormal gut bacteria and that probiotics could play an important role as a barrier against pathogenic bacteria.
Reduction of allergies
A number of studies suggest that probiotics could have a beneficial impact on the incidence of skin and food allergies, particularly in children. Generally the probiotics studied are L. rhamnosus GG
, L. reuteri
, L. acidophilus and B. animalis subsp. lactis BB-12®.
Healthy mouth and better breath
Bad breath is caused for a number of reasons, including a malodorous compound found in the mouth, hydrogen sulfide. The live bacteria found in yoghurt, Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus reduce the levels of hydrogen sulfide and other bad compounds on the tongue. Studies have also shown that the live cultures in yoghurt reduced dental plaque and gum disease.
For more information on probiotics and their health benefits, click here