Cardiovascular health

Yogurt to the rescue: it may reduce heart disease risk by preventing post-meal inflammation


You may not feel it but the chances are your body develops signs of inflammation whenever you eat a large meal. The inflammation can be particularly pronounced if you’re obese – and this is a problem because it’s linked to an increased risk of serious conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.

The solution? Well, simply eating a bowl of yogurt as an appetiser may help, say the authors of this article. They carried out a trial suggesting that a serving of yogurt before a meal may safeguard against the metabolic upset that can occur after a meal and so reduce the risk of inflammation and long-term health threats.

When we eat a meal we all tend to get low-grade inflammation resulting from the spikes in sugars and fats that occur in our bloodstream as we absorb the digested foods. This sudden surge can cause damaging oxidative stress, which in turn leads to inflammation. And to make things worse, obese people tend to have a weakened intestinal barrier which means that toxins from bacteria can escape the gut and be carried around the body by piggy-backing on dietary lipids. These bacterial toxins – endotoxins – can further trigger inflammation.

Yogurt may protect against processes leading to inflammation

Dairy proteins and calcium can quash the surge in sugars and fats seen after a meal. Yogurt consumption may also help to preserve the intestinal barrier. In elderly people, eating low-fat yogurt has been shown to reduce the endotoxins and inflammatory markers in the blood. Yogurt has also been associated with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.

The authors of this article investigated whether benefits could be gained in tackling inflammation by eating yogurt just before a meal, and whether this could come to the rescue of people with obesity.

Their study involved 120 obese and non-obese premenopausal women. The women were randomly allocated to eat either low-fat yogurt (339 g) daily for nine weeks, or a non-dairy control food of soy pudding (324 g).

To determine both the short- and long-term effects of eating yogurt before a meal, the participants were asked to eat a ‘challenge’ meal at the beginning and end of the study. Immediately before the challenge meal, they all ate either a portion of yogurt (226 g) or soy pudding (216 g). Blood samples were then taken every hour for four hours after the meal to measure chemical markers of inflammation and metabolism.

Eating a pre-meal yogurt benefits all, regardless of obesity

Results showed that eating yogurt before a meal improved post-meal metabolism and markers of bacterial toxins in both obese and non-obese premenopausal women.

Compared with the control food, a pre-meal helping of yogurt inhibited a post-meal surge in blood sugar levels as well as reducing levels of certain markers of inflammation and bacterial toxins.

Eating yogurt daily for nine weeks further improved some of the makers, suggesting that daily consumption of yogurt may have a moderate long-term benefit in reducing the effect of endotoxins. However, further reductions in post-meal inflammation may require longer than nine weeks of regular yogurt consumption, suggest the authors.

How does yogurt achieve this effect?

By increasing insulin release, reducing fat absorption and delaying stomach emptying, yogurt helps ensure the gut is geared up to cope with the sudden influx of digested food at meal-times, so reducing the post-meal surge of fats and sugars that can cause oxidative stress leading to inflammation.

In addition, yogurt can strengthen the intestinal barrier to prevent movement of endotoxins by modifying our gut bacteria, stimulating the release of protective gut mucus and shoring up the gut’s defences.

‘Premeal yogurt consumption is a feasible strategy to inhibit postprandial dysmetabolism and thus may reduce cardiometabolic risk.’ – Pei R et al, 2018.

Find out more: read the original article.

Source: Pei R, DiMarco DM, Putt KK et al. Premeal low-fat yogurt consumption reduces postprandial inflammation and markers of endotoxin exposure in healthy premenopausal women in a randomized controlled trial. J Nutr. 2018 Jun 1;148(6):910-916.

Pin It on Pinterest