Is yogurt good for acid reflux?

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How is yogurt made?

Yogurt is a dairy product made by blending fermented milk with other ingredients which add flavor and color. The yogurt ingredients include milk, sugars, fruits and flavors, stabilizers, and a bacterial culture.

While the milk is fermenting at warm temperatures, the bacteria interact with the milk, converting it into curd.

The flavor of the milk is also changed with lactic acid being produced as the milk ferments under warm conditions. The level of acidity is usually used to determine when the fermentation of the yogurt has been completed. Usually, this takes about three to four hours.

Other ingredients might also be added to change some characteristics of the yogurt. Sugar might be added to make the yogurt sweeter and cream for a smooth texture. Stabilizers are also added for shelf stability and consistency of the yogurt.

Does yogurt help with acid reflux?

A great video about yogurt and acid reflux. The only thing that is debated is the lactose intolerance part. Depending on the level of your lactose intolerance, yogurt might or might not trigger symptoms. (see below) Duration: 2:40

Yogurt is excellent for helping with acid reflux as it is not too sour. The probiotics in the yogurt help to normalize bowel functions.

The yogurt is also recommended as a source of protein and helps to soothe stomach discomfort with a cooling sensation. Yogurt that is low in fat is safe to eat for anyone experiencing acid reflux or heartburn.

Probiotics are good bacteria and work by stopping the harmful bacteria from multiplying. As such, they help reduce inflammation of the gut caused by acid reflux.

Additionally, yogurt is easier to digest as the good bacteria, e.g. lactobacillus, release an enzyme in the stomach, easing the process of breaking down lactose.

Better digestion encourages the absorption of nutrients in the gut, which is good for health. Your immunity will significantly improve when you consume low-fat yogurt. You will also be able to manage diarrhea and prevent bloating.

Another way yogurt helps with acid reflux is by diluting the strong acid in the stomach. The weak acidic yogurt will counter excess acid secretion in the gut and reduce episodes of acid reflux.

Yogurt with raspberries

Yogurt and lactose intolerance

People with lactose intolerance usually find milk hard to digest. However, yogurt – especially Greek yogurt – is much easier to digest as the live bacteria inside break down the lactose.

When someone consumes yogurt, they can digest more lactose than when they drink milk. Yogurt also causes fewer symptoms, and it is rare for it to cause digestive distress.

When buying yogurt, you should go for the one that is labeled “probiotic”. This is the yogurt that contains live bacteria cultures.

Pasteurized yogurts are not suitable for lactose intolerance as the pasteurization process has already killed all the bacteria. Neither frozen yogurts have enough live bacteria, avoid them, too.

Strained yogurts and full-fat yogurts are also a good choice for anyone with lactose intolerance.

The straining process removes the whey products, leaving you with yogurt that is lactose intolerant friendly. A considerable percentage of the lactose is also eliminated in the process, and you get to gain the benefits of the yogurt. Greek yogurt is one such type of strained yogurt that helps with the immune system, digestion, acne, and dry skin.

Milk allergy

However, if you are not lactose intolerant, but have a milk allergy, you should stay away from yogurt.

Milk allergy is not related to the digestion of lactose, it is an abnormal response of the immune system to the proteins in dairy products. Since yogurt is high in proteins, milk allergy is likely to trigger symptoms.

What is the best time to eat yogurt?

It is best to eat yogurt along or after a meal to help digestion.

If you are prone to acid reflux, you should not eat anything 2-3 hours before going to bed, to avoid reflux attacks when lying down.

However, since we all react differently to the same food, you might want to experiment and see what the best for you to consume yogurt.

When is yogurt bad for acid reflux?

High fat content

Yogurt that contains whole fat is considered bad for acid reflux as it can be harder to digest and will put a strain on your digestive system. High-fat yogurt can relax the lower esophageal sphincter, which means that stomach contents will easily reach the esophagus.

Saturated fat is also dangerous in yogurt and can trigger heartburn or make it worse. High fat intake is usually associated with inflammation of the esophagus, and since the high-fat yogurt stays in the stomach longer, it triggers the release of more acid.

High sugar content

Yogurt with high sugar content is also more acidic and can lead to an irritation of the esophagus during acid reflux episodes.

If sugar is not digested properly, it might cause gas and result in stomach cramps or acid reflux.

Plain yogurt is much safer, but flavored yogurt high in sugar and additives make the acid reflux much worse.

Final thoughts

Just like buttermilk, yogurt can be a great acid reflux remedy. It promotes digestion and helps to prevent heartburn and acid reflux. Just make sure you choose a low-fat, low-sugar type with probiotics.

Even lactose-intolerant people can try yogurt, as it contains less lactose than milk, hence less likely to trigger symptoms. (People with milk allergies cannot, though.)