Yogurt might help lessen chronic inflammation linked to bowel disease, arthritis and asthma.

According to a study published in the Journal of Nutrition, inflammation is the body’s first line of defense against illness and injury.

However, it could also wreak biological havoc on organs and systems and is associated with obesity, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, and other chronic diseases.

The new study led by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison showed that yogurt can reduce inflammation by improving the integrity of the intestinal lining, thus preventing endotoxins, the pro-inflammatory molecules produced by gut microbes, from crossing into the blood stream.

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The researchers enrolled 120 premenopausal women, half obese and half non-obese.

Half of the participants were assigned to eat 12 ounces of low-fat yogurt every day for nine weeks while a control group ate non-dairy pudding for nine weeks.

Brad Bolling, assistant professor of food science at Wisconsin-Madison, and his team took fasting blood samples from participants at various points during the study and evaluated an assortment of biomarkers that scientists have used to measure endotoxin exposure and inflammation.

The results showed that while some of the biomarkers remained steady over time, the yogurt-eaters experienced significant improvements in certain key markers, such as tumor necrosis factor or TNF, an important inflammation-activating protein.

“The results indicate that ongoing consumption of yogurt may be having a general anti-inflammatory effect,” said Bolling.

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