How to Fight the Cold and Flu With Yogurt

You probably already expect garlic, chicken soup, or vitamin C-rich orange juice to help with cold and flu prevention and treatment. But now there’s a new food on the block that is kicking the butt of colds, flu, and other respiratory infections—yogurt. Exciting research shows that yogurt isn’t just for digestive health anymore.

Research published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that yogurt containing the probiotic strain Lactobacillus casei DN-114001 had a significant effect on respiratory infections in three ways:

1) Decreasing the likelihood of contracting a respiratory infection;

2) Reducing the duration of respiratory infections; and

3) Reducing nasal congestion linked to respiratory infections.

The participants ate approximately three-quarters of a cup of the yogurt containing the L. casei strain on a daily basis for three months. The study explored the effects on the elderly with an average age of 76 but the results should apply to younger adults as well.

Adapted from my new book, The Probiotic Promise: Simple Steps to Heal Your Body from the Inside Out, here’s what you need to know to put yogurt to work for you against colds, flu, and other respiratory infections.

How to Choose Yogurt that will Help Prevent and Fight Colds, Flu, and Respiratory Infections:

-While it may help reduce nasal congestion and the duration of a cold or flu if started during the infection it is better to enjoy the yogurt on a daily basis to reduce the likelihood of getting a respiratory infection.

-Choose a yogurt that contains the effective strain. Most commercially-available yogurt does NOT contain the effective strain of probiotic. Dannon’s DanActive contains Lactobacillus casei DN-114001 but there may be others as well.

-Avoid yogurt with a high amount of sugar. A serving shouldn’t contain more than 10 to 12 grams of sugar yet most yogurt on the market contains substantially more sugar than that.

-Choose a product that contains “live cultures” since the live probiotic cultures are the therapeutic part of the yogurt.

-Avoid yogurt that contains fruit since it is usually fruit jam loaded with sugar. For example: Dannon’s Blueberry Fruit on the Bottom Yogurt contains 24 grams of sugar, which is substantially more than should be eaten in a single serving. Add your own fruit to the yogurt.

-Keep in mind that some yogurt companies indicate that they are the exclusive company with a specific strain of probiotic, suggesting that it has been trademarked. Living creatures, including bacterial strains like probiotics, cannot be patented. The trademark is on a made-up name only and is seriously misleading.

Image credit: grongar via Flickr 

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Margaret C.
Margaret C.2 years ago

what about homemade yogurt from full cream cow's milk? is that sufficient?

Elena Poensgen
Elena Poensgen2 years ago

Thank you

ERIKA SOMLAI2 years ago

thank you but i don't eat yogurt :)

Carole R.
Carole R2 years ago


Jane R.
Jane R2 years ago

I wish I had read this a few days ago. I now have a cold. Cough, chest congestion and nasal congestion. I don't know if it would help me now but I don't have the energy to go to the store to get some.

Cedar F.
Past Member 2 years ago

I buy plain yogurt. If I want something sweet, I can add some preserves or fresh fruit. Seems to me that flavored yogurt is not much better than a candy bar.

Sarah Crockett
Sarah Crockett2 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

Anna Undebeck
Anna Undebeck2 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

Ganaisha Calvin
Ganaisha Calvin2 years ago

Yogurt is amazing

Nikki Davey
Nikki Davey2 years ago