What is Probiotic Yogurt?
Probiotic yogurt is basically yogurt with live and active cultures. It contains different kinds of bacteria that are believed to be beneficial to your overall health. You may be wondering "isn't all yogurt probiotic?". The answer is yes. All yogurt contains active cultures. In the early century manufacturers decided to market their yogurt as probiotic which can be very confusing. The difference between probiotic yogurt and regular yogurt is that in probiotic yogurt there is a third strain of bacteria in addiction to the regular two. Usually there is Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. In probiotic yogurt a third strain is thrown in - L. acidophilus.
Many people believe that "probiotic yogurt" is simply a marketing tool used by dairy and yogurt companies. Having two bacteria in a yogurt creates a hostile environment and it is unlikely that the third bacteria would be able to survive. Additionally, there is no way of knowing how much of the bacteria is actually in the yogurt. Another issue with getting probiotic nutrition from "probiotic yogurt" is that yogurt is a wet environment. In a wet environment bacteria is able to run its life's course very rapidly and may no longer be active and living by the time it is ingested
Health Benefits of Probiotic Yogurt
Probiotic nutrition is important and probiotic bacteria, like the bacteria found in regular yogurt and/or "probiotic yogurt". Though probiotics aid our health, they are not needed. Some people are actually skeptical of the large doses of probiotics that are found in some foods. Nevertheless, here are some of the health benefits you can obtain from probiotic yogurt.
Probiotics can promote and maximize digestion of certain nutrients in the human body. This is extremely beneficial. Occasionally a large chunk of food will pass through the human body, right through the intestinal wall where 70% of our immune system lies. Generally when food passes through our intestines it is broken down and our immune system decides whether it is nutrition or an invader. If it's nutrition we digest it and use it as energy and absorb the nutrients. If it is an invader our immune system fights it. On occasion our immune system will get confused and think that nutrition is an invader. It will fight the nutrition, wasting our immune system's energies. A hyperactive immune system can lead to automimmune diseases and to allergies.
Probiotic yogurt also has some other benefits. It is said to improve our mood. We have plenty of nerve endings in our GI tract, in fact we have more there than in our brain. Trouble with digestion can make us depressed and uncomfortable. Probiotic yogurt aids in digestion, therefore keeping us happy. It also helps maintain the rate of digestion. We don't want things moving through us too slow or too fast, probiotic yogurt keeps everything moving just right. Lastly, probiotic yogurt helps maintain healthy digestion in relation to stress. Any stress on our bodies, including exercise, effects how we digest things and can often suppress our digestion. Probiotics help keep everything normal in regards to stress.
Other unproven benefits of probiotic yogurt include aiding in lactose intolerance, preventing cancer, asthma and allergy prevention, preventing infections, reducing cholesterol, and relieving irratable bowel syndrome.
So is Probiotic Yogurt Good For You or Not?
That's a pretty simple question and the answer is yes. There's a however here, though, and that however is that it's probably not as good for you as companies are making it out to be. Probiotic yogurt is not a good substitution for a healthy lifestyle, eating an all around healthy diet, exercise, and good hygiene. Not enough research has actually been done on probiotics to determine how beneficial it is to your body and with that said, not enough research has been done to show that consuming probiotics in large quantities isn't at all harmful.
We know that too much of a good thing isn't always good, and that should be the case with probiotic yogurt. Probiotics have a lot of potential to aid in helping with a number of illnesses and conditions. Over the past decade a lot of research has been conducted on probiotics and probiotic yogurt, though not enough to draw any concrete conclusions from. As time goes on there will no doubt be more research into it, but for now the many health claims, especially those coming from probiotic yogurt companies, must be taken with a grain of salt.
Like all health food and diet fads, there is a lot of hype out there that can't necessarily be backed up. This is a dangerous thing that we do in our culture. For years people have been consuming probiotics. No, probiotic yogurt isn't dangerous and harmful but for some reason people have lately been under the impression that we should be eating as much probiotic yogurt as we can get our hands on. This is mostly the fault of advertising companies and yogurt companies. In fact, a researcher contacted Stonyfield Farm and the Food and Agriculture Organization recently enquiring as to where their research is on the benefits of certain strains of bacteria in their probiotic yogurt. Neither one knew of any research, and concluded that no such research existed. This is parly troubling and would be even more so if it wasn't so predictable. Nowadays it's hard to believe anything. I guess the moral of the story is don't overdo it.