How This Helps

Fermented milk and yogurts have been used traditionally throughout the history of humankind. Yogurt is a thick dairy product that is produced by the bacterial fermentation of milk. The bacterial cultures which are used to provide milk the characteristic yogurt texture is known as yogurt cultures. The fermentation of lactose, which is found in the milk by these bacteria produces lactic acid, which acts on milk proteins to give Yoghurt its characteristic texture and sour flavor. The primary bacterial cultures which are involved in the preparation of Yoghurt are Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus delbrueckii and other probiotic bacteria. The term 'probiotic bacteria' is defined as live microorganisms or food supplements which benefit our health. [1,2,3]

Is yogurt acidic

What defined acidity?

Your body closely controls the pH level of fluids like blood and digestive juices. Blood has a pH variety of 7.35 to 7.45. This makes it slightly alkaline or basic. Stomach acid's low pH of approximately 3 to 5.5 helps the stomach digest the food you eat and protect you from external germs & bacteria. The pH scale has a range from 0 to 14, with a neutral value of 7 (pure water has a pH of 7). If the ph value is below 7, it is known to be acidic, and if greater than 7, it is called alkaline.

The pH scale is a logarithmic scale, meaning that a difference of one really changes the concentration by a factor of 10. For example, a pH value of 4 is ten times more acidic than a pH value of 5. Similarly, a pH of 7 is 10 times more alkaline than a ph reading of 8. Your body is good at maintaining pH levels stable. Diet can temporarily change your body's overall pH level. Some foods can make it slightly more acidic. Other foods can help keep it alkaline.

But eating a balanced diet won't significantly impact pH levels if you are otherwise healthy. Milk & yogurt are debated concerning the pros and cons of your gut health.

Acidic nature of Yogurt

Yogurt is prepared due to the fermentation of milk by microorganisms like Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus delbrueckii. These organisms can stay alive and remain active even in acidic conditions. The conversion from milk to Yogurt results in the production of lactic acid. The presence of lactic acid results in a decrease in the ph of the product, thereby making it a little more acidic.

In an experiment, the milk was inoculated with yogurt culture and incubated for a specific period. The effect of the microorganisms on the ph of the yogurt formed was then checked. It was observed during the incubation period that the ph decreased and came to a level between 4-5, which is termed acidic in scientific terminology. As a result, yogurt is sour due to its acidic nature.

The acidic nature of yogurt is essential to prevent the growth of other unwanted microorganisms in the yogurt. These probiotic microorganisms which resemble the microorganisms found in the gut of human beings are very useful for intestinal health. The acidic nature of the Yogurt helps in preventing the growth of other unwanted harmful microorganisms in the yogurt as well as promote the well being of the alimentary canal of human beings. [4,5]

See: Role of gut microflora and probiotic effects in the irritable bowel syndrome.

Acid-forming & alkaline-forming foods role

Effects of acid-forming and alkaline-forming foods

A specific food does not have to taste acidic or have a low pH to be acid-forming within the body. This is a popular misconception.

The minerals and vitamins in food are what make it acid or alkaline-forming. Too many acids in the body can lead to health issues, especially in the event you've got an underlying condition. Eating low-acid foods can help conditions like acid reflux or heartburn. A health study from Japan found that ingesting more alkaline-forming foods seemed to be removing acids in the bloodstream, which may have a beneficial impact on gout.

Eating more alkaline-forming foods like fruits and vegetables may also help enhance nutrients, and maintain muscle mass. According to a study, women who ate more alkaline-forming foods had significantly less natural muscle loss due to aging.

This might be because these foods are high in minerals like potassium, which are important for bone and muscle health.

Most fruits and vegetables are alkaline-forming foods types and can, therefore, help you with acidity and heartburn. A balanced diet should include more alkaline-forming foods. There are exceptions, and the biochemistry can get somewhat complex, as a pH level below 7 does not automatically mean the substance is acid-forming. A classic example is a lemon, which is acidic prior to digestion but comprises alkaline-forming byproducts once broken down in the body. It's nature's magic at play.

See: GERD Cough Natural Treatment

Is yogurt good for acid reflux?

Does yogurt work for acid reflux & heartburn?

The effect of Yogurt on acid reflux depends upon the type of acid reflux and the condition of the patient. For patients who are lactose intolerant, Yogurt may cause indigestion in these patients leading to gas formation, which may potentiate acid refluxes. But there are not many studies that establish any direct link between yogurt and acid refluxes.

However, there are some studies where maintenance of diet in the case of acid reflux patients is studied. It has been observed that Yogurt is a weak acid and has minimal effect on the overall 24-hour acidic contents of the stomach. Theoretically, it has been suggested that the incorporation of probiotic microorganisms in the yogurt aids in the digestion process. These probiotic microorganisms are very helpful in the case of acid refluxes, which are caused due to ulcers in the stomach. Overall theory suggests that weak acidic yogurt helps in diluting the strong acid present in the stomach, thereby reducing acid reflux episodes. Also, there is not much evidence on the fact that interaction between weak acidic Yogurt and strong acid present in the stomach promotes acid refluxes. [6]

See: Mustard for heartburn & acid reflux relief

Yogurt helps digestion

Other Health Benefits of Yogurt

Yogurt is a very healthy and nutritious product. It mainly comprises of 81% water, 9% protein, 5% fat and 4% carbohydrates. As Yogurt contains probiotic microorganisms, it has a very positive impact on the immune and metabolic system of the body. Further benefits of Yogurt can be seen as follows:

1. Digestion:

It has been observed in studies that the probiotic microorganisms present in Yogurt contain lactase activity. They are responsible for better digestion of food. They promote the healthy growth of good bacteria in the human gut. Gas production, bloating, etc. are also prevented by the consumption of Yogurt. Yogurt is also useful in the management of diarrhea, as recommended by the World Health Organization. It has been found in a study that patients suffering from acute watery diarrhea when fed with Yogurt resulted in decreased stool frequency and shortened the diarrhoeal episodes. [7,8,9]

2. Immune system:

Yogurt consumption may positively enhance the immune response, particularly in immunocompromised patients. Various studies demonstrate the role of Yogurt in the enhancement of the immune system. Long term consumption of Yogurt has shown to improve immune resistance against common diseases. [10,11]

3. Weight Management:

People who look forward to maintaining their weight can find yogurt to be an ally and an essential part of their diet. It contains fewer calories, helps in digestion, and contains good amounts of high-quality protein. Consequently, it proves to be helpful in managing and decreasing the weight of a person if done with a proper diet plan. 

It also contains a rich source of vitamins and minerals in it, which makes it a complete and whole food for the body. Not only does it fulfill the macro-nutrient demands of the body, but it also provides the micro-nutrients which are required by the body. [12,13]

See: Essential oils for heartburn & acid reflux relief

Milk vs. yogurt for acidity & heartburn

While the two are dairy products, milk and yogurt have various impacts on acid reflux. Keep reading to discover why yogurt is beneficial for acid reflux and why milk isn't.

Difference Between milk & yogurt: Yogurt is made by including bacterial cultures to pasteurized, homogenized milk. The bacteria convert lactose in the milk into lactic acid. This reaction makes it acidic, with a pH value of 4-5. 

Yogurt, though acidic in character, is a low acid-forming food since it doesn't influence the acid-alkaline equilibrium of the body.

- Yogurt has probiotics or good bacteria: Bad bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract are among the causes of acid reflux. Probiotics are germs (certain bacteria and yeasts), which are great for the body. These probiotics or good bacteria' stop the undesirable bacteria from growing quickly. Probiotics may help in reducing inflammation of the gut due to acid reflux.

-Yogurt is easier to digest: The germs release an enzyme in the stomach, which makes it easier to break down lactose. Due to its sugar content, lactose is not easy to digest.

See: Ayurveda treatment for GERD and Acidity

Summary

As we can see, the nutritional benefits of yogurt are countless. From helping to provide ease indigestion to weight management, we can observe that yogurt is an essential item of our day to day diet. The health benefits of yogurt cannot be neglected as it is a complete food for our body. The probiotics present in the yogurt provide a healthy environment within our intestine and thereby promote our digestion. As digestion is improved, all the nutrients from various foods eaten are properly absorbed within the body. As a result, the overall health and immunity of a person improve due to the consumption of yogurt. Its innate nature is acidic and results in sour flavor. Nowadays, there are very healthy variants of yogurt, which are sweet also containing fruit extracts, which further increase the nutritional value of yogurt. As we can see that to date, there are not many studies that provide any concrete evidence of the harmful nature of yogurt in the case of acid reflux patients. Hence, there is a scope of thorough investigations in the case of this area. Though, even in this case, yogurt can always be consumed in regulated quantities with proper guidance from your nearby doctor.

See: What to drink for acid reflux & heartburn relief

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