The world of Probiotic supplements and foods is filled with old and new products, each one of them advertising to be the best in the market. Yogurt is a known probiotic food, it has strains of good bacteria that colonize your gut and protect it from harm. On the other hand, probiotic supplements are easy to use and effective. But which one is better, old style yogurt or new strains and probiotic supplements? In this article, we will uncover the truth about yogurt and probiotic supplements for you, so you can finally understand when to use each one of them and how.
Yogurt, an old-school probiotic
One of the most popular forms of probiotic foods is yogurt. Since it is a type of dairy, it contains the same nutrients than milk, that is carbohydrates, proteins, fat, minerals and vitamins. But yogurt goes beyond milk because it also offers probiotic strains to improve our gut health. Yogurt is versatile, it can be used in a very wide variety of recipes, and it is tasty.
Among the health benefits of eating yogurt regularly, we have the following:
- It is used to improve our digestion: Yogurt is a good way to avoid diarrhea after an antibiotic treatment, as well as many other gastrointestinal problems such as bad digestion and constipation.
- It prevents colon cancer: Recent studies with probiotic supplements and different strains have shown that the microbiota present in yogurt can be used against gastrointestinal cancer. This probiotic food lowers the risk of developing colon cancer and rectal cancer.
- Improves your immune system: The gut microbiota is strongly related to the immune system. There is a lot of lymphatic tissue all along the intestines, and good microbes can strengthen our immunity, thus facilitating the prevention of various diseases.
- More and more is being discovered on yogurt: Since the gut has been recognized as a major organ in our body, there’s an increasing load of investigation about gut microbiota. Every year, scientists discover more and more benefits of consuming probiotic foods. For example, it lowers our LDL cholesterol, help us control our weight, and may even affect our mood. Recently, yogurt has also been identified to improve the diet quality and metabolic functions in children, so this ongoing field of study is giving us many reasons to keep yogurt around.
Are probiotic supplements superior to yogurt?
Yogurt is the classic probiotic food so, is there any problem with it? The truth is that yogurt also has another side of the coin, and not everyone talks about it. It is a healthy food, there’s no doubt about that, but we should be extra careful with a few things. For instance:
- Too much fat: Since yogurt comes straight from milk, it may keep a very high content in fatty acids. 8 ounces of yogurt can give you around 7 grams fat when it’s made out of whole milk. Low-fat yogurt contains half this measure, around 3.5 grams, and only greek yogurt has a low total fat, around 0.88 grams.
- Adding flavors can ruin everything: Some types of yogurt come with extra sugar because their developers want to make their product appealing to everyone. As a result, we get apparently healthy brands offering fruit flavors to their customers who would buy them thinking all natural things are healthy. But only 8 ounces of low-fat yogurt with fruit flavors can have more than 40 grams of sugar. If we compare that to 15 grams in natural yogurt with no added flavors, we realize it’s quite a lot. This fat and sugar situation can be a delicate problem, especially with those who are trying to lose some weight.
- Lactose intolerance: Some children, and even adults, can be intolerant to the lactose found in milk and yogurt. In these cases, this protein from milk may get in the way and cause even more gastrointestinal problem than it was supposed to calm down. Symptoms include abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, diarrhea, and more. Some children can tolerate lower amounts of lactose than others, and soy milk yogurt can be an alternative in these cases.
- Dairy and prostate cancer: Some studies have shown that whole milk and high-fat dairy intake may increase the risk of developing prostate cancer. Men who had prostate cancer before should be especially careful when it comes to dairy. They should select non-fat dairy, and not every type of yogurt may be appropriate for them, as we have seen above.
Bottom line, yogurt is the classical probiotic food and has many advantages, but it’s not the perfect solution. What’s more, microbial strains in yogurt are limited to a few, and there are many others to explore. Instead, probiotic supplements make it easy to choose which strains you want to add to your colon. More and more evidence is available every year to identify different strains with different health benefits, and depending on your needs, you may want to try yogurt or go for a different probiotic supplement.
How many probiotics in Greek yogurt?
Let us give you an example of which probiotic strains you can find in one of the healthier types of yogurt: Greek yogurt. According to a study, there are two main strains in this type of yogurt, Lactobacillus delbrueckii and Streptococcus salivarius. Lactobacillus delbrueckii is known to break up lactose, and may improve lactose intolerance in some cases. It also colonizes the gut and protects it from Salmonella and other harmful infections. On the other hand, Streptococcus salivarius has anti-inflammatory properties and it colonizes and protects the human oral cavity. It can be used as an oral probiotic to control oral infections that cause bad breath, caries and candida.
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