Yogurt rules at reducing the inflammation that triggers arthritis (and a host of other chronic, debilitating diseases).Yogurt provides inflammation-fighting bacteria, shuts down inflammatory chemicals in the body and helps control inflammatory glucose and insulin. Yogurt from grass-fed cows is definitely the best, as it has up to five times more anti-inflammatory CLA than yogurt from grain-fed cows.
1. Yogurt tackles inflammation with its bacteria. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology reports that yogurt bacteria Lactobacillus rhamnosus significantly decreased C-reactive protein (CPR) levels in the body. CRP levels are a blood marker for inflammation. Less inflammation means less pain.
This trial also showed that different bacteria strains have different abilities to affect inflammation. We would love to see similar research on other yogurt bacteria strains. (Note: Nancy’s yogurt is currently the only yogurt in the US that contains L. rhamnosus.)
2. Yogurt fights inflammation by shutting down cytokine production in at least 2 ways. The study mentioned above also showed that L. rhamnosus reduces the body’s production of cytokines, body chemicals that turn on inflammation in the joints. Yogurt has another way to turn off those harmful cytokines, thanks to its lactoferrin. A 2005 review of lactoferrin studies “strongly suggests that lactoferrin is one of the key molecules” responsible for reducing inflammation.
3. Yogurt protects you from inflammation by balancing blood sugar. Yogurt literally knocks the tops off the glucose/insulin spikes that cause raging levels of inflammation in our arteries. How does yogurt accomplish this? Its protein slows digestion. So glucose enters the blood stream at a more even, steady rate, triggering a slower stream of insulin. And since the bacteria predigest some of the sugars, less insulin is required overall. This also reduces inflammation.
4. Yogurt from grass-fed cows gives you increased anti-inflammatory power. Research shows that conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is an important anti-inflammatory. And a study published in the Journal of Dairy Science shows that grass-fed cows have three to five times more CLA than cows raised on grain. Similar studies show that milk from pastured cows has much higher levels of a variety of important nutrients, including the anti-inflammatory omega-3 oils.
4. What’s the right yogurt? Choose plain, unsweetened yogurt from happy, organically raised, grass-fed cows or goats. Avoid like the plague any yogurt that has added sugar, fake sugar, cookies, chemicals or unpronounceable additives that can cause inflammation. You want the live yogurt cultures of ancient healing traditions, not sugary, dead imposters.
You can also make your own yogurt and save a bundle. You’ll find grass-fed milk at your local farmers market, or at Eatwild.com’s state-by-state listing of farmers.