When a client comes to me with a digestive concern and I ask them if they are taking probiotics the most common reaction I hear is: “I eat yogurt, the kind with the added probiotics.”
In my post last week I talked about the importance of probiotics but here’s a recap:
Probiotics are a common term to describe healthy bacteria usually in supplement form, but are also found in some fermented foods like sauerkraut, tempeh, miso and kombucha. Probiotics are found to enhance immune function, decrease the occurrence and duration of intestinal infections, improve overall digestion and elimination, and many more. Just about everyone and their dog has heard of probiotics! Some people are taking them but don’t entirely know why, and I’d say more than half of the clients I see for Colon Hydrotherapy come to me eating yogurt as their source of healthy bacteria.
And here is my response…
In theory, yes, yogurt may contain bacterial cultures, but any of the highly pasteurized products on your supermarket shelves, I would be very leery to think they will improve your digestive health long term.
The reason? Got some time?
1. First off, dairy. Oh dairy, dairy, dairy. (I could write and entire blog on the downside’s to dairy, and I will, so be sure to stay glued to your computer screen) Sure you may taste great, but you are not kind to the digestive tract. Dairy in all forms (milk, cheese, yogurt) is mucous forming. A mucous layer normally protects our digestive tract, but once we eat something that irritates it, like dairy, it can cause it to produce more. Think about when you have a cold and you have all of that phlegmy grossness in the back of your throat, that’s what dairy can do to you and it doesn’t stop at the throat – think of your colon having extra mucous in it.
Sometimes I’ll see mucous during a colonic …. are you grossed out yet?
Anne Marie Colbin, Author of Food and Healing, puts dairy’s effect on the body best in my opinion. “From infancy on we partake of dense, heavy foods…cheese…ice cream. Push a thick, dense substance through a strainer, and soon enough the small openings get clogged, rendering the strainer less effective”1 Pretty soon these thick substances overload the body and organs, turning to pus and mucous.
Note: there are other things that can cause excess mucous in the body like parasites or other allergenic foods, but more than often the culprit is dairy.
2. Dairy is one of the top allergenic foods, if not the number 12 and if you have other allergies, consuming dairy might make the other one’s even worse1
3. I mentioned I would write a post on dairy and I will, but focusing on yogurt for a second: think about your supermarket and the ton’s of yogurt varieties. I’m certain that just about every single one of these contain added sugar. Do I really need to tell you what sugar will do to the body? Hmm let’s keep this short – can cause digestive disturbances like gas because it ferments in the body, and it weakens the immune system. Yup all reasons for taking probiotics in the first place.
Yogurt is also pasteurized which is a process of heating food to a certain temperature to kill microbes to avoid it from spoiling. Wouldn’t it stand to reason that the good bacteria would be gone as well? So now we have a product that we have to add healthy bacteria to! Umm what’s the point?
Don’t get me wrong, if you can get your hands on some local, unpasteurized yogurt or kefir that comes from a terrific source then sure have some, just don’t eat it every day.
4. Another big reason not to consume yogurt for your source of probiotics, it might contain poop! A fellow nutritionist wrote this post a while back and I couldn’t possibly sum it up any better so I’ll just get you to read it.
While I don’t love taking supplements there definitely is a time and a place for them and topping off my list is a probiotic supplement INSTEAD of yogurt to help improve digestive functions. Let’s just say there are some viable bacteria in your yogurt — it probably doesn’t contain enough to maintain your digestive health long term. If you’re stressed – love, money, family, career, and if you live in today’s modern world of pollution and chemicals the need for a good dose of daily probiotics is high. If you don’t particularly suffer from any problems in this area then just make sure your diet contains some healthy fermented foods.
- Colbin, Anne-Marie. (1986) Food and Healing. Random House.
- Bateson-Koch, Carolee, DC. ND. (1994) Allergies, Disease in Disguise. Books Alive.