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Yogurt is a well-known dairy product that was introduced hundreds of years ago. It has high calcium content and is generally considered a nutrition-dense food product because of its nutrient profile.
Probiotics in yogurts help you maintain proper digestion, excretion, and immune function. Since yogurt is said to be good for your digestive health, you probably wonder if it really helps you poop.
Here’s what you need to know about yogurt and its impact on your gastrointestinal health.
Does Yogurt Make You Poop?
Yogurt varieties that contain live, active bacterial cultures called probiotics help improve your digestive health by maintaining a healthy balance of good bacteria. Consuming yogurt in sufficient amounts helps you poop more and easier and protect you from certain gastrointestinal issues like ulcerative colitis.
So what are probiotics anyway and how do they improve your digestion and make you go?
To understand how probiotics works, you first need to know how your gut works.
Your body is home to over 100 trillion good bacteria with over 1000 species.
Yes, good bacteria. Not those that are harmful and make you sick.
In fact, you have much more good bacteria than bad bacteria in your body.
These bacteria are not only beneficial for your body but are vital for your survival.
They are known as probiotics.
The United Nations’ WHO’s Food and Agriculture Organization described probiotics as the live microorganisms that provide health benefits for the host when consumed in sufficient amounts.
Probiotics are so popular that the National Health Interview Survey found that up to 4 million adults in the US have used probiotics or prebiotics within the past thirty days.
In fact, they are the 3rd most popular dietary supplement after vitamins and minerals.
Most probiotics live in your gut. But some can be found in your skin, mouth, urinary tract, and lungs.
The relationship between you and these probiotics is known as mutualism, wherein both distinct species (you as human and the bacteria) work together and get benefits.
Here’s how both you and the bacteria benefited from each other.
The bacteria get to eat food while they help you digest foods that you cannot digest. They break down the food particle partially so you can finish the job.
Probiotics also help you maintain a healthy balance of good bacteria.
Sometimes, your probiotics can also be depleted or damaged because of an unhealthy diet, stress, antibiotics, or other medications, leading to metabolic, mental, immune function, and digestive issues like bloating, indigestion, and bowel changes.
The same is true when you are sick. Bad bacteria will invade your body and increase in number, overwhelming the good bacteria and knocking out the balance.
The easy way to correct your damaged and depleted intestinal flora is to produce or add the healthy probiotics colony inside your gut by consuming foods or supplements that contain probiotics.
The probiotics act as a regulator to help you regain a healthy environment in your gut microflora and make you feel better and free of digestive issues.
By maintaining the balance of your gut microflora, your bowel function improves and you will poop more.
A 2014 systematic review of randomized clinical trials published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that probiotics help improve your stool consistency, notably decrease the time it took for waste to move through your bowel by 12.4 hours, and make you poop more per week by 1.3 times.
Studies also found that probiotics may treat various types of constipation, including childhood constipation and constipation caused by irritable bowel syndrome, pregnancy, and some medications, such as opioids, antidepressants, iron pills, and some cancer treatments.
Now that you know what probiotics are and what they do to your body, let’s talk about the specific probiotics in yogurt.
What type of probiotics are found in yogurt?
The live and active bacterial cultures found in yogurt are lactic acid-producing bacteria or LAB.
These bacteria ferment the lactic acid in milk anaerobically and turn it into a coagulated milk product called yogurt.
The two most typical LAB or probiotics used to turn or ferment milk into yogurt are Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophiles.
However, some yogurts come with different bacterial strains, such as Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus acidophilus, and Bifidus. All of these probiotics stains help maintain the balance of your gut flora and promote a healthy digestive system.
Over the years, many researchers around the globe have extensively studied the benefits of LAB and yogurt on gastrointestinal health using both human subjects and animal models.
Some studies showed their potential health benefits for certain gastrointestinal conditions, including constipation, diarrheal disorder, lactose intolerance, inflammatory bowel disease, H. pylori infection, colon cancer, and allergies.
These positive effects are thought to be because of the changes in gut microflora, the time foods take to pass through the bowel, and the improvement of the body’s innate and acquired immune system.
Ingesting yogurt and other probiotic foods may also improve your vitamins and minerals absorption.
Because of the multiple potential health benefits that yogurt provides, the American Gastrointestinal Association recommends consuming it for digestive health and to relieve diarrhea, constipation, and other gastrointestinal issues.
Thus, certain yogurts might be healthier than others.
However, a recent study conducted by researchers from the University of Toronto points out that yogurt may show different effects depending on the particular probiotic it contains.
In many cases, fresher yogurt tends to have more live bacteria.
Nevertheless, you need to keep in mind that not every yogurt is healthy and beneficial to your gut health.
Only those that contain live and active bacterial culture or probiotics will improve your gut health, soften your poop, and help you go.
The overwhelming choices of yogurt in the supermarket, from low-fat to frozen yogurt, further make it harder for you to pick the right one.
Fortunately, the National Yogurt Association has implemented the Life & Active Cultures or LAC seal to make it easier for you to identify healthy yogurts that contain probiotics.
You can find this seal on the product container.
The National Yogurt Association has also set up standards for probiotics.
A yogurt will only be considered healthy if it contains a minimum of 100 million cultures/g at the time of production. On the other hand, frozen yogurt must contain 10 million cultures/g.
The NYA will only issue the LAC seal if the yogurt meets these requirements.
However, since using LAC seals is voluntary, certain yogurt products do not have the seal despite containing live and active cultures.
If you can’t find the seal anywhere on the product, try reading the ingredient panel.
Apart from the LAC seal, you also need to consider other factors when choosing a yogurt (more on this below).
Nice to know: Greek yogurt is strained more times than plain yogurt. So it tends to have a much thicker consistency and contains more calcium and probiotics. It also has less calories and sugar.
Is yogurt a laxative?
Yogurt that contains probiotics is considered a natural laxative as they help promote a healthy digestive system and bowel regularity. Probiotics in yogurt help maintain a healthy balance of gut flora and keep bad bacteria from knocking out the balance and compromising your overall well-being.
However, since yogurt works by adding good bacteria called probiotics to regulate your bowel system, you need to consume it regularly to see results.
A study published in Nutrition Journal found that consuming 180 ml of probiotic yogurt every morning for two weeks reduced the colonic transit time in people with chronic constipation, which means that yogurt helps facilitate the movements of waste through your bowel.
Is it okay to eat yogurt if you have diarrhea?
Dietary supplements or foods containing probiotics like yogurt help the gut recover faster from a diarrheal infection by restoring the good bacteria that the body flushes out. Some studies found that yogurt containing live or active cultures helps prevent and treat antibiotic-associated diarrhea.
However, you should choose low-sugar yogurt since high sugar levels can potentially worsen diarrhea symptoms in some patients.
You should seek advice from your doctor before using yogurts as a treatment for your diarrhea and be sure to see your doctor if diarrhea lasts longer than a few days.
What happens if you eat too much yogurt?
Consuming too much yogurt daily may affect some people differently than others depending on their overall health. Low-fat, low-sugar yogurt is plausibly safe to eat for most adults and can be beneficial to the digestive system and immunity. But eating too many yogurts that are high in calories and saturated fat may result in weight gain and worsened heart health.
Due to the potential risk of dairy products like yogurt, health researchers from Harvard University recommend eating no more than two servings of dairy foods per day.
Moreover, galactose, a kind of sugar found in yogurt, is believed to have toxic effects on women’s ovaries and possibly associated with ovarian cancer.
Some people may also experience nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, or diarrhea, albeit rarely, when consuming yogurt.
It’s best to consult with your doctor first before making any major changes to your diet.
What to look for when buying probiotic yogurt?
As mentioned earlier, not all probiotic yogurts are beneficial for your digestive health and well-being.
Most probiotics cannot withstand heat and moisture and since the probiotics in most probiotics supplements are not protected against these elements, they might die quickly even before you buy them.
That’s not all.
Without additional protections, probiotics that remain alive might die before reaching your gut because they cannot survive in your stomach acid.
You should look for yogurt or foods with probiotics containing the following strains:
Because other strains cannot survive in your stomach’s acidic environment and die before they even reach your gut.
Also, only these strains are proven to have positive impacts on your gastrointestinal system.
Apart from inspecting the yogurt for the NYA’s LAC seal, the infamous Doctor Mike suggested looking for probiotics with the following features:
- CFUS (colony-forming units): Should be at or more than than 5 million
- Enteric-coated: Offers protection against your stomach acid
- Expiration date: Product has not expired; fresher yogurt will contain more live bacteria
Also, remember that probiotics will not stay in your body forever; they are transient bacteria that will leave your body.
So you need to consume probiotics on a regular basis to ensure your body gets its daily dose of probiotics.
Still, do keep in mind that probiotic yogurt does not cure every gastrointestinal disorder since the cultures it contains are not sufficient to combat serious issues.
So it’s best to consult your doctor if you plan to use yogurt as some sort of treatment. If your condition requires a high concentration of probiotics, your doctor might prescribe you probiotic pills.
Consuming yogurt varieties that contain live and active bacterial cultures (known as probiotics or good bacteria) in adequate amounts does help you poop and improve your gut health.
These friendly bacteria do so by maintaining a healthy balance between good and bad bacteria in your gut.
They also help enhance the consistency of your stool, facilitate waste movement through your bowel, and treat several constipation types, including childhood constipation and constipation due to pregnancy, IBS, and certain medications.
Other potential health benefits of probiotics are alleviating lactose intolerance, diarrheal disorder, colon cancer, and H. pylori infection.
Keep in mind that not all yogurt you’ll find in the grocery stores is healthy and beneficial to your gastrointestinal health.
Only those that contain probiotics will make you poop easier and bring positive effects on your digestive system.
Also, you should not use probiotic yogurt to treat all gut disorders since these products do not contain enough culture to fight serious conditions.
So it’s best to consult with your doctor before taking any probiotic types.
Depending on your condition, the doctor may prescribe probiotic pills that have a higher probiotic concentration.
Does yogurt make you gain weight?
Generally, consuming low-calorie, low-fat, and low-sugar yogurts as part of a healthy diet does not cause weight gain and can be beneficial to your well-being. However, consuming too many yogurts which are high in saturated fat and calories may lead to weight gain and exacerbate heart health.
Does Activia probiotic yogurt make you poop?
Activia yogurt is a functional food that contains live and active probiotics, which help promote digestive health. The probiotics help make you poop more, improve your stool consistency, prevent certain kinds of constipation, alleviate diarrhea, and reduce colon cancer risk.
Does greek yogurt make you poop more?
Greek yogurt contains probiotics that help you go, improve your gut health, and ease some GI disorders like inflammatory bowel disease and constipation. Unlike traditional yogurt, Greek yogurts are strained more times, making them thicker and have a higher concentration of protein and probiotics.
Is yogurt good for hard stool?
Yogurt containing live and active probiotics or good bacteria help normalize your stool consistency; it softens hard poop and hardens soft poop. Research also showed that probiotics can potentially treat some types of constipation, such as childhood constipation and constipation due to pregnancy and IBS.
Why does yogurt give me diarrhea?
People who consume yogurt for the first time may experience digestive issues like gas and diarrhea due to the probiotics it contains. These symptoms will normally subside with continued use. Those with underlying health conditions should consult their doctor before taking probiotics as they may experience more severe side effects.