New Media Producer: Melissa Greathouse
There seems to be a big push to get women to eat more yogurt. Commercials claim it reduces bloating, improves digestion and boosts immunity.
It seems to be at the top of the list for fad foods these days. Flavors that sound like desserts help disguise what is otherwise a form of curdled milk.
But the ingredient getting a lot of buzz is probiotics: live microorganisms or so-called friendly bacteria.
"Enthusiasm right now is outpacing the scientific evidence. The scientific research is growing but it's not there yet," said family physician Dr. Peter Sanni-Thomas.
Early evidence suggests probiotics may treat diarrhea, urinary tract infections, irritable bowel syndrome, or change the immune system.
And while research is promising, nothing is definite.
"The studies have shown different results with different amounts. Each brand has different types of probiotics contained within them," Sanni-Thomas said. "Each one works different for each person. There's no standard of care at all, right now."
Still, Dr. Sanni-Thomas realizes people are already adding probiotic-packed yogurt to their diet. He urges caution, specifically in people who are immuno-compromised.
"If you used in excessive amounts of the wrong probiotics that can actually cause a problem also," he said.
And he adds yogurt's not the only food with probiotics. It's also found in supplemental pills or powders.
So women don't need yogurt, but it's a smart way to shape up.
"When it comes to dieting which is part of losing weight and being health conscious, yogurt is a perfect staple, a perfect food," Dr. Sanni-Thomas said.
And here's something else interesting: the marketing research firm The NPD Group wanted to find out out who eats the most yogurt. Surprisingly, it's children under the age of six.