Medical science recognizes long-term inflammation as the villain underlying many chronic diseases. A recent study found yogurt may dampen this condition that wreaks havoc with health.
Short-term inflammation is an important natural body response to infection or injury. Yet when this beneficial condition lingers too long, it becomes harmful, causing the body to attack itself, which damages multiple organs. Chronic inflammation plays a role in arthritis, asthma and inflammatory bowel disease. It’s also a risk factor for cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity and metabolic syndrome.
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In the recent study, scientists tested the hypothesis that yogurt might decrease inflammation by improving the function of the intestinal lining. This benefit would prevent the entrance into the blood stream of endotoxins, which are pro-inflammatory substances produced by gut microbes.
“I wanted to look at the mechanism more closely and look specifically at yogurt,” said Brad Bolling, University of Wisconsin–Madison Assistant Professor of Food Science, whose research explores how foods protect against chronic disease.
Attacking the problem through anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin, Prednisone or Naproxen isn’t an option because of the associated risks and side effects. A need exists for an alternative that would be safe for long-term use. For more than 20 years, scientists have been studying dairy products to determine if they could be a potential treatment. The results have been mixed, igniting a debate on whether such foods are pro-inflammatory or anti-inflammatory.
“There have been some mixed results over the years, but [a recent article] shows that things are pointing more toward anti-inflammatory, particularly for fermented dairy,” said Bolling, citing a 2017 review paper that assessed 52 clinical trials.
Eating Yogurt Reduced Inflammation Biomarkers
The new research was among the largest investigations of yogurt’s effect on long-term inflammation. It studied 120 premenopausal women: half were non-obese and half were obese. Sixty of the participants ate 12 ounces of low-fat yogurt daily for nine weeks, while the other 60 ate the same amount of non-dairy pudding for nine weeks.
Several times during the study, blood samples were tested for biomarkers to measure the presence of endotoxins and inflammation. In December of 2017, the findings reported in the British Journal of Nutrition showed that although some biomarkers in participants who ate the yogurt remained unchanged, other major markers such as TNF-a, a key inflammation-activating protein, showed significant improvements.
“The results indicate that ongoing consumption of yogurt may be having a general anti-inflammatory effect,” said Bolling.
Yogurt Lowered Inflammation Markers Even with High-Calorie Meal
In the recent article published in the Journal of Nutrition, the authors focused on a different part of the study that involved stressing the participants’ metabolism with a high-calorie meal. Bolling and the team had the individuals eat an “appetizer” of yogurt or non-dairy pudding and follow it with a large high-carb, high-fat breakfast.
“It was two sausage muffins and two hash browns, for a total of 900 calories. But everybody managed it. They’d been fasting, and they were pretty hungry,” said Bolling.
The blood tests showed the yogurt appetizer improved some important biomarkers of endotoxins and inflammation during the ensuing hours of digestion. In addition, it boosted glucose metabolism in the obese individuals by hastening the lowering of post-meal glucose levels.
“Eating eight ounces of low-fat yogurt before a meal is a feasible strategy to improve post-meal metabolism and thus may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases,” said Ruisong Pei, a UW–Madison food science postdoctoral researcher involved in the studies.
Why Might Yogurt Be So Beneficial for Health?
The microbial community in the gut is comprised of both beneficial and harmful strains of bacteria. Eating yogurt promotes a healthier gut because it’s a source of the beneficial bacteria called probiotics. The interest in these microbes started in the early 20th century, when a scientist noticed that rural residents of Bulgaria had great longevity despite being impoverished and living in a harsh climate. It was postulated that the fermented milk they drank was responsible for their hardiness.
Since that time, research has shown that eating foods containing probiotics is linked to an array of health benefits. In recent years, as studies have found the gut microbiome influences total body health, the interest in probiotic foods has intensified. The new discovery that yogurt might reduce chronic inflammation is very valuable, indeed.
Mary West is a natural health enthusiast, as she believes this area can profoundly enhance wellness. She is the creator of a natural healing website where she focuses on solutions to health problems that work without side effects. You can visit her site and learn more at http://www.alternativemedicinetruth.com. Ms. West is also the author of Fight Cancer Through Powerful Natural Strategies.