Go into any restaurant or watch any commercial for a kitchen cleaning product, and enemy number one will be bacteria. From fear of ingesting these microscopic critters, we want them as far from our food as humanly possible. But did you know all bacteria are not bad? In fact, strains found in yogurt can actually help you by boosting your immune system. On top of that, yogurt’s non-bacteria components can also assist the immune system. Here’s a look at both.
Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) are commonly used in yogurt production. In the finished product, these bacteria must be alive and in substantial amounts. Sounds scary? Not really when they strengthen your immune system.
LAB in yogurt are healthy bacteria, which keep the gastrointestinal tract free of disease-causing germs. In particular, they can increase body metabolism, promote digestive functioning, and facilitate bowl movements. Lactic acid bacteria can decrease pH in the colon lumen and change the intestinal micro-ecological environment. Increased amounts of LAB in the intestines can suppress the growth of pathogenic bacteria, thereby contributing to reduction in infection.
Yogurt’s bacterial components play an important role in the immunostimulatory effects of yogurt. Frequent consumption of yogurt can power up the body’s immune response, which then stimulates white blood cells such as lymphocytes and macrophage, resulting in the events like destroying cancerous growth and/or ingesting cancer cells.
Yogurt is a nutrient-rich food containing high-quality protein, vitamins (especially folic acid), and trace elements, all of which are necessary for maintaining optimal immune response. Although milk and yogurt have similar vitamin and mineral compositions, calcium is more bioavailable from yogurt than from milk. Calcium can strengthen the immune system too.
The association with cancer prevention:
It’s a complex subject. In general, yogurt’s beneficial bacteria, any compounds produced by the friendly bacteria found in active yogurt cultures, and other nutrients in yogurt may positively influence the immune system, making it harder for cancer cells to survive.
Just make sure to consume the yogurt high in protein but low in fat, sugar and calories.
Photo credit: by LotusHead