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Is Yogurt Really as Good for Us as We Think?

| | Nutrition

Activia, Dannon, Fage…we know them well. Even if you don’t work a daily serving of yogurt into your diet, you were probably visualizing the TV or magazine ads in your mind as we mentioned the brands. Most of you probably even know to be sure to check those yogurt labels for the wording or symbol for “live and active cultures,” which tells you you’re definitely dealing with real yogurt in the product.

For those who are focused on a healthy diet, especially one that nurtures gut health, yogurt is a power-food staple. So it’s probably good to hear that yogurt does indeed seem to be as good for us as we think as it seems to reduce chronic inflammation and endotoxins. Let’s learn more.

What Is Chronic Inflammation?

Inflammation in our bodies can be either acute or chronic. The acute kind is actually a beneficial inflammation as it helps with healing. The chronic kind, however, is a slow killer, so we want to do all we can to deter chronic inflammation.

Acute inflammation occurs in response to an injury, for example, and it’s a sign your immune system is on it and is handling the problem. In most cases, we don’t want to stop this inflammation from doing its job as this self-healing is a natural part of our biological processes. There are some rare exception where it would be imperative to step in and override this inflammatory process, such as if compartment syndrome has occurred.

Chronic inflammation, however, is an ugly, damaging inflammation. It sneaks up on us slowly, worsening as we age. Poor diets loaded with highly inflammatory foods, such as carb- and sugar-heavy diets, seem to have a close association with chronic inflammation. Lack of exercise and a sedentary lifestyle, weight gain, and metabolic syndrome, which includes high blood pressure and blood sugar, obesity, and so on, all have links to chronic inflammation. Along with chronic inflammation eventually comes many diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even cancer has been linked to high sugar consumption, which, as mentioned is a pro-inflammatory food.

What Are Endotoxins?

First, it’s important to understand that the immune system is our body’s defense system. When a microorgansim, such as a bacteria or parasite, invades the body, the immune system mobilizes its troops to march in and attack or kill the foreign invader. Gram-negative bacteria, the ones that are typically harder to kill, even with an antibiotic, contain endotoxins called lipoploysaccharides in their outer cell membranes. When these cells die, their endotoxins are released into our bloodstream. The term endotoxin just simply means that it can cause a toxic reaction. This toxic reaction occurs when abnormally high levels of endotoxins enter the blood, and this can lead to metabolic endotoxemia. This condition can result in hronic inflammation, obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke, and more.

When you are diagnosed with an infection due to a bacteria, many physician who prescribe an antibiotic will also tell you to eat yogurt add a probiotic supplement. Why do they do this? Because antibiotics can’t differentiate between good and bad gut bacteria and will just kill it all, leaving the gut vulnerable with no healthy bacteria to repopulate it. It seems yogurt may also have a more direct impact on chronic inflammation and all those endotoxin…

How Chronic Inflammation and Endotoxins Respond to Yogurt

One study set out to determine if yogurt had any impact on chronic inflammation and endotoxins. One group of participants consumed about 12 ounces of yogurt per day for nine weeks; another group consumed the same amount of nondairy soy pudding. Obese and nonobese women were included in each group.

What did they find? The obese and nonobese women in the yogurt group experienced a decrease in their chronic inflammation and endotoxin biomarkers. On a side note, many of the obese participants in the yogurt group who only at low-fat yogurt for nine weeks gained weight! Read more about the tainted history of low-fat diets here.

Taking steps to eliminate chronic inflammation and reduce endotoxins can help you be proactive about your health and lower your disease risks as you age. One good first step is to make sure you’re getting that daily dose of real yogurt in your diet. Skip the yogurt filled with syrups and other sugary ingredients; while some of these do have live and active cultures, they also have pro-inflammatory sugar. Opt, instead, for plain, whole milk yogurt, toss in some fresh berries and walnuts, and give it a good dusting of “pure cinnamon” for a super-healthy treat.