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Here's What Yogurt Does For Your Gut

When it comes to gut health, certain bacteria is actually good for you.
FACT CHECKED BY Justine Goodman

Over the years, yogurt has become a popular snack and meal addition, available in a wide variety of forms and flavors. While some boast high protein content, others tout their low-calorie ingredients, and some are known for their sweet toppings. No matter the flavor, all yogurts have one thing in common—they contain probiotics. While the amount and types of probiotics may vary by product, these beneficial bacteria support a healthy body and gut. You may enjoy yogurt for the flavor and convenience, but here is what yogurt does for your gut.

Not all bacteria are created equally, and the unique probiotic bacteria that exist in yogurt and other fermented foods provide many benefits to your digestive tract. Your gut is responsible for digesting food, absorbing nutrients and water, and can even influence other bodily systems, like immunity, mental health, and heart health. While our bodies rely on various types of microorganisms to aid in all sorts of bodily functions, the functions of probiotics are far-reaching.

yogurt in wooden bowls
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When you eat yogurt, the beneficial bacteria consumed helps keep bad bacteria in your gut from taking over and wreaking havoc. An imbalance in gut bacteria can be caused by a number of factors, like taking antibiotics, a poor diet, and certain digestive illnesses, and could lead to a cascade of issues. Constipation, diarrhea, mental health disorders, allergies, and eczema are just some of the ailments thought to be impacted when your gut contains too many bad bacteria and not enough good. Consuming enough probiotics through yogurt, other fermented foods, and supplements helps maintain a healthy balance of gut bacteria.

All forms of yogurt contain some amount of healthy bacteria that keep your gut flourishing. This strengthens the integrity of your gut and digestive system and can buffer against health issues. In fact, research indicates probiotics can even improve symptoms of existing disease, and in the case of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), they can reduce symptoms associated with the digestive disease.

Each of us has a unique make-up of gut bacteria, often referred to as our microbiome. While all of our gut ecosystems may differ, it is well accepted that probiotics serve many positive functions for each of us. Improvements in digestion and alleviation of digestive disease symptoms are a major plus for many who consume probiotics through yogurt and other sources, but it is important to recognize the cascading effects a healthy gut can have on the rest of your body.

Eating probiotic-rich yogurt will support your overall gut health, which may also lead to improvements in other areas of the body. Yogurt can be consumed on a daily basis and will also contribute to your intake of protein, calcium, and phosphorus. Many yogurt varieties contain added sugar, so look for plain options and add your own flavoring with fruit, nuts, and seeds to avoid excess sugar intake.

Kelsey Hampton, MS, CSSD, RDN, LD
Kelsey is a Texas-based dietitian and professor who specializes in sports nutrition. Read more about Kelsey