If you’re a mum or dad with a young baby, the chances are you’ve had to contend with infant tummy troubles at some time or other. The good news is that research has shown an association in babies between eating yogurt and a reduced risk of tummy bugs.
We hear a lot these days about probiotics (gut-friendly bacteria) in foods and their potential benefits in keeping our gut healthy. Now Japanese researchers have studied whether babies who eat foods containing probiotics, such as yogurt and cheese, might be less likely to get tummy bugs.
Bacteria are important for a healthy gut
The bacteria living naturally in our gut (the ‘gut microbiota’) play an important role in keeping us healthy. They help with digestion and absorption of nutrients and may also help to keep disease-causing microbes at bay that might otherwise result in tummy upsets. Fermented foods such as yogurt and cheese contain probiotics that help to keep the gut microbiota in balance.
Yogurt linked to reduced risk of tummy bugs in babies
In this Japanese study, over 82,000 mums with 1-year-old infants were asked to fill in a questionnaire. They were asked how often their baby ate yogurt and cheese, and about any episodes of gastroenteritis (vomiting and diarrhoea) that had been diagnosed by a doctor during their baby’s first year.
Babies who ate yogurt at least three times a week were much less likely to have had vomiting and diarrhoea than babies who ate yogurt less than once a week. Frequency of cheese consumption didn’t show an association with vomiting and diarrhoea, say the authors.
More studies are needed
The design of this study doesn’t necessarily allow us to conclude that eating yogurt several times a week prevents vomiting and diarrhoea in babies, just that there is an association. We also don’t know anything about the amount of yogurt the babies were eating. The questionnaire didn’t distinguish between different types of cheese, and processed cheese doesn’t contain probiotics. There are still lots of questions that need answers and so we need more detailed studies, say the authors.
‘Consumption of yogurt, but not cheese, at 1 year of age was associated with a reduced risk of gastroenteritis.’ – Nakamura et al, 2019.