Are you looking for the best probiotic yogurt out there? Well, it’s smart to do some research on probiotic yogurt – because all yogurt is not created equal.
Let’s take a look at what to look for when shopping for probiotic yogurt, and the benefits of probiotics for your digestive health in general.
What Are Probiotics?
Probiotic bacteria are “friendly bacteria” which help to provide certain health benefits when consumed by a host – that host being you.
These gut health benefits, researched in-depth across many studies, are accepted by the international medical community and the World Health Organization.1
So, what are these health benefits? Well, the main one involves gut health. Probiotics help boost the good bacteria in your gut, so they outnumber the bad bacteria. This helps to ensure a healthy digestive system.
A Healthy Gut – A Healthy Body
Now, here’s where things get really interesting. Research suggests that body health may actually begin in the gut.2 This means that having healthy gut flora is more important than ever, as it may be affecting a myriad of other health issues.
Good Bacteria: Probiotics Found in Yogurt
Regular yogurt, made from dairy or non-dairy milk, is considered a high protein probiotic food. To be a probiotic food, a food must be fermented in some way – in order to bring forth the friendly bacteria.
Other probiotic foods include fermented foods like:
- Kefir-style drinks
Now, a good probiotic yogurt contains living, beneficial bacteria. How does it get there?
Here’s the brief story of yogurt…
Fermented Milk And Live Active Cultures: How Is Yogurt Made?
To make modern yogurt, naturally high-protein cow’s milk is heated, pasteurized and homogenized, then allowed to cool.
The milk is then introduced to some key yogurt starter cultures – bacterial strains that are known to be exceptionally good for the gut.
Live probiotic strains of bacteria required for fermentation of yogurt are usually Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. Lactobacillus acidophilus may also be included.
This milk and culture mix is then left to ferment.
Lactic acid then forms, which breaks down the milk’s natural sugar proteins.
This is what gives yogurt its tart taste. And lactic acid also creates its own friendly bacteria during this process.
Here’s the bad news for yogurt lovers. If your favorite yogurt is heat-treated after the fermentation process, all those good little bacteria are destroyed. They may be listed as an ingredient, but they are no longer live active cultures.4
So, the best probiotic yogurt brands are those that don’t heat-treat their yogurt after fermentation.
Sugar Alert: Plain Yogurt vs Flavored Yogurt
As long as your yogurt contains live and active cultures, you have yourself a solid probiotic yogurt. Dairy-based yogurt is also high in protein (because cow’s milk is high in protein). Until flavors are added. Then, things get a little dicey.
In order to flavor yogurt, immense amounts of sugar are often added.
Even if the label tells you that it’s “real fruit” or “natural flavor”–it will likely be full of added sugar, too.
By comparison, plain Greek yogurt is high in protein, low in sugar, and low on added ingredients.
If you find plain Greek yogurt a little boring, try flavoring it yourself. Add some fresh fruit, a dash of vanilla or almond extract, or spices like cinnamon and nutmeg.5
Benefits Of Probiotics: Can A Daily Probiotic Supplement Help Digestive Issues?
Getting probiotics from foods like yogurt is always a solid choice, as you’re also getting the benefits of protein, vitamins, and minerals. However, it’s likely that your yogurt isn’t getting you enough probiotics to fully benefit your health. The good news is live active cultures can also be taken as a daily probiotic supplement.
Probiotic supplements (and their live and active cultures) can benefit everyone.
But especially those who may be struggling with digestive issues and need an extra boost to their gut health. They’re also an option for those who may be intolerant of dairy.6
Now, some probiotic supplements are bulked up with filler ingredients which may include lactose milk sugars. So, always read the label properly before making a supplement choice.
Here are some other great bacterial cultures that you may find in a probiotic supplement:
- Lactobacillus rhamnosus – This common probiotic strain may help support normal bowel movements.7
- Lactobacillus bulgaricus – Studies have shown that lactobacillus bulgaricus may help support lactose digestion.8
- Bifidobacterium bifidum – One of the key friendly bacteria found in the gastrointestinal tract of newborns, this strain may support gut health and normal digestion.9
- Saccharomyces boulardii – This probiotic may support normal bowel movements.10
Live And Active Cultures At Work
Don’t get overwhelmed by all the different cultures when it comes to choosing the best probiotic yogurt. Try instead to include multiple probiotic foods in your diet each day and talk to your doctor about taking a probiotic supplement.
Finally, if you’re dairy intolerant, there are also non-dairy alternatives that still contain probiotics.
Probiotic Skincare: A New Frontier in the Pursuit of Youthful Skin
CFU Probiotic Supplements: Does Greater CFU Equal Better Gut Health?
12 Probiotic Foods to Help You Feel Great