Yogurt is used for constipation, high levels of cholesterol or other fats (lipids) in the blood (hyperlipidemia), vaginal infections, inability to properly digest the sugar lactose (lactose intolerance), and other conditions. More research is needed to support most of its uses.
Yogurt is eaten as a food and used as an alternative to milk in lactose-intolerant individuals.
How does it work ?
Uses & Effectiveness ?
Possibly Effective for
- Constipation. Research shows that eating a yogurt with live bacterial cultures (Activia) can increase bowel movements by about one movement per week in people with constipation. It also seems to reduce straining and pain during bowel movements.
- High levels of cholesterol or other fats (lipids) in the blood (hyperlipidemia). Taking yogurt with live bacterial cultures seems to decrease cholesterol in patients with borderline to moderately high cholesterol levels. This type of yogurt seems to lower total and "bad" low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol but does not raise "good" high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.
- Inability to properly digest the sugar lactose (lactose intolerance). Eating yogurt with live bacterial cultures seems to improve lactose tolerance in children and adults who are unable to fully digest lactose.
- Vaginal yeast infections. Taking yogurt by mouth seems to prevent vaginal yeast infections. Applying a mixture of yogurt and honey inside the vagina seems to reduce symptoms and help treat vaginal yeast infections.
Possibly Ineffective for
- Asthma. Eating yogurt along with standard treatment doesn't improve asthma symptoms.
- Diarrhea in infants and children who are malnourished. Replacing milk formula with yogurt formula doesn't help treat diarrhea in malnourished infants and children.
Insufficient Evidence for
- Diarrhea in people taking antibiotics (antibiotic-associated diarrhea). Eating yogurt enriched with the probiotic L. rhamnosus GG seems to decrease symptoms of diarrhea in people taking antibiotics. But eating yogurt with other live bacterial cultures might not prevent diarrhea in people receiving antibiotics.
- Damage to the stomach and intestines caused by aspirin. A small study shows that eating yogurt with a specific live bacterial culture seems to reduce stomach damage caused by aspirin.
- Overgrowth of bacteria in the vagina. Eating yogurt enriched with lactobacillus probiotic, along with taking an antibiotic, might help to get rid of bacterial vaginal infections faster than taking the antibiotic alone. Also, eating yogurt enriched with lactobacillus might decrease the risk of developing a new bacterial vaginal infection.
- Cancer. Some early research found that people who eat yogurt might have a lower risk of cancer compared to people who don't eat yogurt. However, not all research agrees.
- Heart disease. Most early research found that people who eat more yogurt don't have a lower risk of heart disease.
- Non-cancerous growths in the large intestine and rectum (colorectal adenoma). Some early research found that people who eat more yogurt might have a lower risk of developing colorectal adenomas. But not all research agrees.
- Infection of the gastrointestinal tract by bacteria called Clostridium difficile. Early research shows that drinking yogurt might not help to prevent Clostridium difficile infection in people who are in hospital for a serious illness.
- Tooth plaque. Early research shows that eating yogurt might prevent plaque build-up in people who do not brush their teeth for 5 days.
- Diabetes. Most people who eat yogurt may have a slightly lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared with those who don't yogurt. Eating yogurt might also improve blood sugar control in people with type 2 diabetes. It might also improve blood sugar control in people who develop diabetes during pregnancy. Best evidence is for yogurt fortified with vitamin D. Yogurt fortified with probiotics doesn't seem to have added benefit.
- Diarrhea. Yogurt formula given as a replacement for milk formula in infants and young children seems to relieve persistent diarrhea. Eating yogurt that is not enriched with probiotics doesn't seem to relieve sudden diarrhea in young children. But eating yogurt with added probiotic bacteria might help. Yogurt does not seem to prevent diarrhea.
- A mild form of gum disease (gingivitis). Early research shows that eating yogurt might prevent the gums from becoming red and swollen in people who do not brush their teeth for 5 days.
- A digestive tract infection that can lead to ulcers (Helicobacter pylori or H. pylori). Adding yogurt that contains Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium probiotics to standard triple-drug treatment for Helicobacter pylori infection might help treat this infection. But results are conflicting. Consuming yogurt without standard triple-drug therapy does not appear to be beneficial.
- Reduced brain function in people with advanced liver disease (hepatic encephalopathy). Liver damage can lead to loss of mental function. Early research shows that eating a probiotic yogurt daily might reverse the loss of mental function in people with slight loss of brain function due to liver damage.
- HIV/AIDS. Early research shows that eating yogurt might improve white blood cell counts in HIV/AIDS patients. But conflicting results exist. It's not clear which yogurt product or length of treatment works best.
- A grouping of symptoms that increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke (metabolic syndrome). Early research found that people who eat yogurt every day have a smaller chance of developing metabolic syndrome compared to those who rarely or never eat yogurt.
- Muscle strength. Early research shows that eating yogurt daily during a strength training program does not increase strength better than strength training alone.
- Build up of fat in the liver in people who drink little or no alcohol (nonalcoholic fatty liver disease or NAFLD). Some early research shows that eating probiotic yogurt can help decrease cholesterol and body weight in people with this condition. But not all research agrees.
- Obesity. People who eat yogurt might have a lower risk of obesity compared to those who don't eat yogurt. But not all research agrees.
- Infections of the kidney, bladder, or urethra (urinary tract infections or UTIs). So far, research doesn't offer much support for using yogurt for UTIs. Researchers have found that consuming a yogurt drink containing Lactobacillus does not seem to prevent recurrent UTIs when used up to 6 months in females with a history of UTIs.
- Preventing sunburns.
- Treating peptic ulcers.
- Other conditions.
When used in the vagina: Yogurt is POSSIBLY SAFE when used in the vagina.
Special Precautions and Warnings
Weakened immune system: There is some concern live bacteria in yogurt might reproduce unchecked, causing illness in people with weakened immune systems, such as people with HIV/AIDS or organ transplant recipients. Lactobacillus in yogurt has caused disease, but rarely, in people with weakened immune systems. To be on the safe side, if you have a weakened immune system, avoid eating large amounts of yogurt that contain live bacteria for prolonged periods of time without advice from your healthcare professional.
Milk allergy: Some children with mild allergies to milk might be able to eat yogurt. But many people allergic to milk will also be allergic to yogurt. If you are allergic to milk, try yogurt cautiously only after discussing with your healthcare professional.
Antibiotics (Tetracycline antibiotics) interacts with YOGURT
Yogurt contains calcium. The calcium in yogurt can attach to tetracyclines in the stomach. This decreases the amount of tetracyclines that can be absorbed. Taking calcium with tetracyclines might decrease the effectiveness of tetracyclines. To avoid this interaction take yogurt two hours before or four hours after taking tetracyclines.
Some tetracyclines include demeclocycline (Declomycin), minocycline (Minocin), and tetracycline (Achromycin).
Ciprofloxacin (Cipro) interacts with YOGURT
Ciprofloxacin (Cipro) is an antibiotic. Yogurt might decrease how much ciprofloxacin (Cipro) the body absorbs. Taking yogurt along with ciprofloxacin (Cipro) might decrease the effectiveness of ciprofloxacin (Cipro). To avoid this interaction take yogurt at least one hour after ciprofloxacin (Cipro).
Medications that decrease the immune system (Immunosuppressants) interacts with YOGURT
Yogurt contains live bacteria and yeast. The immune system usually controls bacteria and yeast in the body to prevent infections. Medications that decrease the immune system can increase your chances of getting sick from bacteria and yeast. Taking yogurt along with medications that decrease the immune system might increase the chances of getting sick.
Some medications that decrease the immune system include azathioprine (Imuran), basiliximab (Simulect), cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune), daclizumab (Zenapax), muromonab-CD3 (OKT3, Orthoclone OKT3), mycophenolate (CellCept), tacrolimus (FK506, Prograf), sirolimus (Rapamune), prednisone (Deltasone, Orasone), corticosteroids (glucocorticoids), and others.
Be cautious with this combination
- For constipation: A probiotic yogurt (Activia) 125 grams twice daily for two weeks.
- For high levels of cholesterol or other fats (lipids) in the blood (hyperlipidemia): Several different doses have been tried depending on the preparation. A typical dose of 200 mL of yogurt containing L. acidophilus per day has been used. A combination product of 125 mL L. acidophilus yogurt with 2.5% fructo-oligosaccharides three times daily has also been used. A dose of 450 mL daily of yogurt containing the Causido culture (which contains Enterococcus faecium and two strains of Streptococcus bacteria) has also been used.
- For inability to properly digest the sugar lactose (lactose intolerance): 500 grams of yogurt daily for 15 days.
- For vaginal yeast infections: Typical doses are 8 ounces or 150 mL Lactobacillus acidophilus yogurt per day for 4-6 months.
- For vaginal yeast infections: Typical doses are 8 ounces or 150 mL L. acidophilus yogurt per day for 4-6 months.
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