Is Probiotic Yogurt Just A Fad, Or Is It Truly Beneficial?

If you’re eating yogurt because you’ve heard it is beneficial for your digestive tract, be careful. While there are brands that contain live probiotic strains of beneficial bacteria, there are a lot of others that don’t. Plus, many brands are very high in sugar, which cancels out the benefits of probiotics.

That means you’ll want to do a little research first, to make sure the brand you buy is worth the money – whether it’s frozen yogurt, or other kinds of yogurt dairy products.

Here’s some information to help you make the best choice possible.

What Are Probiotics?

Before you get that frozen yogurt, it’s important that you have an idea of what probiotics are in the first place — they’re the bacteria that actually turn milk into yogurt… but they’re so much more.

There are trillions of microbes in the gut – and a lot of them are actually good for you. They help ensure your digestive tract works as it should. But there are a lot of bad ones as well. When there’s an imbalance between good and bad bacteria in the gut, you’ll be more susceptible to digestive issues.1

Beneficial Bacterial Strains

Probiotic Yogurt | Probiotic America

When looking for probiotic yogurt to support your digestive tract, you’ll want to make sure whatever brand you choose contains beneficial bacteria cultures. There are several different strains associated with digestive health.

Look closely at the labeling of the products you’re considering, to see if they contain one or more of the following:

Bifidobacterium animalis lactis (B. animalis lactis)

This bacteria strain has been associated with a wide variety of health benefits. For example, research indicates that it can help strengthen the immune system.2 It may also help reduce the risk of respiratory issues in some instances.3

Bifidobacterium lactis (B. lactis)

B. lactis has been shown to help ease digestive issues, such as constipation.4

Lactobacillus casei (L. casei)

Studies show that L. casei may help prevent diarrhea.5 There is also evidence that the strain can help reduce the severity of symptoms in certain serious digestive conditions.6

Lactobacillus casei Shirota (L. casei Shirota)

This form of the L. casei strain has also been shown to reduce constipation.7 It may also play a role in strengthening the immune system in people who suffer from allergies.8

What to Avoid

Try to steer clear of yogurt with added sugar. Many types of low-fat yogurt have added sugar to provide more flavoring. Too much sugar in your diet could lead to certain health problems.9

Also, you might actually be better off buying probiotic yogurt that’s not low fat. The reason is that yogurt, and many other dairy products, contain a type of beneficial fat known as conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA. Research shows that CLA may play a role in reducing your risk for heart problems.10

It’s important to note that many manufacturers are trying to take advantage of the fact that yogurt is considered to be a healthy food. They might sell yogurt, but if it doesn’t contain live cultures, it won’t provide you any probiotic benefits.

Look for products that have a seal that says “Live & Active Cultures”. These products not only contain beneficial bacteria, but they contain significant numbers of them.11

What Other Dairy Products Contain Probiotics?

If you like to expand your food horizons beyond probiotic yogurt, here are some other options that contain beneficial bacterial strains:

Kefir

Probiotic Yogurt | Probiotic America

This fermented dairy product is similar to a probiotic yogurt, but it has a unique, tart flavor. It’s typically higher in probiotics than the yogurt you’ll find on your grocery store shelves.12 You might be able to find it at your local supermarket, but there’s a better chance you’ll find kefir at your nearest health food store.

Cheese

There are several types of cheese that also contain probiotic strains. These include cheddar and mozzarella.1314

Milk

You will probably be able to find probiotic-enriched milk at your local health food store. For example, there are brands of milk fortified with the Lactobacillus acidophilus strain of good bacteria. This strain has been associated with helping to lower cholesterol levels in the blood.15

Wrapping it Up

Eating frozen yogurt, or other types of this popular dairy product, may help support the health of your digestive tract. But you should never introduce a new type of food to your dietary regimen without talking to your doctor first. They will let you know whether it will be safe for you to do so.

 

Learn More About Probiotics:
NEWS: Probiotics May Provide Help with Allergies
Best Probiotic Foods to Improve Your Gut Health
Probiotic Skincare: A New Frontier in the Pursuit of Youthful Skin


Sources
1.https://nccih.nih.gov/health/probiotics/introduction.htm
2.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21899798
3.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20863419
4.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19296845
5.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11220983
6.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15932981
7.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14631461
8.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18510694
9.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23493538
10.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22296934
11.http://aboutyogurt.com/index.asp?bid=29
12.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28222814
13.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24905221
14.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22981567
15.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25954637

7 Amazing Health Benefits of Sauerkraut (And a DIY Recipe!)

Sauerkraut has been a staple of the European diet for thousands of years. While most people in the U.S. probably know it as a great addition to a hot dog or a Reuben sandwich, this fermented food is so much more. There’s actually a lot of health benefits of sauerkraut.

Here are just a few of the reasons why you might want to think about getting more sauerkraut into your dietary routine:

Probiotics and the Fermentation Process

The fermentation process is key to unlocking the health benefits of sauerkraut. Turns out, fermented food is preserved in a way that changes its chemical structure, producing beneficial bacteria known as probiotics.1

Now, you might not find the idea of willingly ingesting bacteria that appetizing. After all, bacteria are supposed to be bad for you and cause diseases, right?

But, your body is filled with trillions of bacteria. And while many of them are bad for you, many more are actually good for you. These beneficial bacteria help to offset the bad ones, helping keep your digestive system working normally. That’s why probiotics are so important.2

Benefits of Sauerkraut | Probiotic AmericaThe fermentation process has been used for thousands of years. It was key to preserving vegetables before the advent of refrigerators – even before canning. Fermented food undergoes substantial changes.3

Now, the type of fermentation that creates probiotic bacteria is known as lactic acid fermentation.

The lactic acid created during the fermentation process helps to keep harmful bacteria from forming.4

The probiotics found in fermented foods like sauerkraut can greatly lower the risk of suffering from several different types of health problems. These include digestive problems such as –

  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Colitis
  • Obesity
  • Immune system disorders.5

A Nutritional Powerhouse

Sauerkraut is packed with nutrients – and it’s very low in calories. Just a one-cup serving contains only 27 calories. It also delivers 4 grams of fiber and a substantial amount of vitamin K (23 percent).6

Here are some of the amazing health benefits that have been associated with this humble dish made from fermented cabbage.

1. Immune System Support

The probiotics in sauerkraut play a role in helping maintain the health of the immune systems. They do so by helping prevent autoimmune reactions. These occur when the immune system mistakes healthy cells for dangerous invaders and attacks them.7

Probiotics have been shown to help the body fight infections. They can also help replenish the body’s supply of good bacteria after you take antibiotics.8

2. Cardiovascular Health

The fiber found in sauerkraut may help reduce levels of cholesterol in the blood. This, in turn, will help support the health of the cardiovascular system.9 There is evidence that probiotics can support cardiovascular health by lowering blood pressure.10

There are two studies that show vitamin K can help reduce the risk of dying from heart disease. One showed that people who regularly ate foods rich in the vitamin were 57 (such as sauerkraut) percent less likely to die from the condition than people who didn’t have a significant vitamin K intake.11

3. Stronger Bones

Benefits of Sauerkraut | Probiotic America

The benefits of sauerkraut extend to keeping your bones strong, thanks to its high vitamin K content. Vitamin K not only helps support heart health, it also helps to promote improved bone health.

In one study, women who took supplements containing the vitamin saw a slower rate of bone density loss than those who did not.12 There is also evidence that vitamin K can help substantially reduce the chances of suffering a hip or spine fracture.13

4. Brain Health

Probiotics might even help your brain function better. Studies show that the bacteria in your “gut,” or gastrointestinal tract, send messages to the brain that help determine the way it perceives your environment.14

Sauerkraut and other fermented foods that are rich in probiotics help make sure there are plenty of good bacteria in the gut. Research indicates that a good supply of beneficial bacteria in the gut can help lower anxiety.15

5. Weight Loss

Because sauerkraut is low in calories and high in fiber, it can help you feel more satiated, or full, for a longer period of time. And a high-fiber diet helps lower the number of calories you take in each day.16

There is also evidence that probiotics can help lower the amount of fat that you absorb through the foods you eat.17 In one study, one group of participants was overfed on purpose while receiving probiotics. The other group also overate but received a placebo. According to the results, the group that took probiotics gained half the body fat of the participants in the placebo group.18

6. Better Digestion

Probiotics can also help replenish the body’s supply of good bacteria after you take antibiotics.19 This is important in regard to digestive health because antibiotic use can sometimes result in a condition known as antibiotic-associated diarrhea, or AAD.

AAD occurs because antibiotics not only kill harmful bacteria but good ones as well. As a result, there are not enough beneficial bacteria to balance out the harmful ones that survive the antibiotic regimen. This, in turn, can lead to stomach problems.20

But probiotics can help with other digestive issues as well. They can, for example, help reduce the symptoms associated with problems such as irritable bowel disease.21

7. Antioxidant Properties

The fermentation process, when used in making sauerkraut, produces lactic acid, which has antioxidant properties.22 Antioxidants are important because they help protect the body from the effects of oxidization.

In particular, they inhibit the development of free radicals. These are molecules that are missing an electron and scour the body looking to find it. Free radicals take electrons from cells. This, in turn, can lead to severe tissue damage.23

Recipe: Making Your Own Sauerkraut

Benefits of Sauerkraut | Probiotic AmericaYou can buy sauerkraut at just about any grocery store, of course. But if you’re the adventurous type and want to learn more about the fermentation process you can easily make it yourself at home. Here’s how.

1. Pour about 10 cups of shredded cabbage in a plastic or ceramic bowl with a teaspoon of salt. Release the juices of the cabbage by stirring thoroughly. The bowl can’t be metallic because of the way the metal will react with the salt.

2. Add a cup of water, a teaspoon of pickling salt, 10 juniper berries, and a teaspoon each of caraway seeds and yellow mustard seeds. Mix thoroughly.

3. Put the mixture into a sterilized canning jar. Then pack the mixture using a wooden spoon.

4. Next, pour some water mixed with pickling salt (one teaspoon of salt for each cup of water) into the jar. Pour enough to fill the jar, leaving ¼ inch of space under the lid.

5. Place the jar in an area between 65 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit for two-and-a-half to three weeks. You’ll notice the contents will start to bubble after a few days, but this is normal. It’s a sign that the fermentation process is working.

6. Once the bubbling stops add some more of the pickling salt/water mix if the level of the sauerkraut has gone below the rim of the jar.

7. You’ll probably see a film at the top. Scrape them off. The sauerkraut will then be ready to eat. Keep the jar in the refrigerator until all the sauerkraut is gone.24

The Bottom Line

As you can see, the fermented benefits of sauerkraut are incredibly far-reaching. But before you start making it a part of your dietary regimen, talk to your doctor first to make sure he or she agrees that it will be right for you.

Learn More:
12 Awesome Benefits of Lactobacillus Acidophilus
Probiotic Skincare: A New Frontier in the Pursuit of Youthful Skin
NEWS: Probiotics May Provide Help with Allergies


Sources
1.http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/73/2/374s.full
2.https://nccih.nih.gov/health/probiotics/introduction.htm
3.https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/everything-you-always-wanted-to-know-about-fermented-foods
4.https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780123739445001516
5.https://www.medicinenet.com/probiotics/article.htm
6.http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2614/2
7.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19584499
8.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16696665
9.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21776465
10.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25047574
11.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15514282
12.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23525894
13.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16801507
14.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3904694
15.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23497650
16.http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0924224414002386
17.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25884980
18.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26466123
19.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16696665
20.http://www.clevelandclinicmeded.com/medicalpubs/diseasemanagement/gastroenterology/antibiotic-associated-diarrhea
21.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19220890
22.http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/08905436.2012.755694
23.https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2011/10/antioxidants-explained-why-these-compounds-are-so-important/247311
24.https://www.thespruce.com/homemade-german-sauerkraut-1447249