From snack to hack – is yoghurt the secret weapon to good health?

Yoghurt is meant for your breakfast bowl, but some people claim it can cure everything from bad skin to medical issues. We separate the truth from the furphies.

It’s never been easier to find DIY home remedies on the internet – many claiming regular household ingredients are the secret to wellness wonders.

One ingredient popularly claimed to be the answer to many a malady is yoghurt.

From correcting skin issues, righting gut problems to aiding weight loss – yoghurt is said to be able to do it all.

Rich in nutrients such as protein and calcium, yoghurt is also a source of beneficial probiotics (live bacteria) which can have a positive impact on health.

While full of health-promoting properties, is yoghurt really the power ingredient it’s credited as?

We investigated some of the weird and whacky ways yoghurt is used and whether they work.

A fix for constipation: true

If you’re feeling a little backed up, it might be worth adding a little yoghurt to your diet to help things get flowing again.

Studies have shown including yoghurts enriched with probiotics – live beneficial bacteria – can help relieve constipation.

One study, in particular, showed it helped significantly when it came to constipation relief for pregnant women.

Helps blend skin pigment: false

Skin that’s even in tone has always been in vogue, and the latest viral claim is that slathering your face with yoghurt will help stamp out discolouration.

The idea behind putting yogurt on your skin is that it contains lactic acid which is often used to treat hyperpigmentation, explains cosmetic chemist Michelle Wong.

“Lactic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid, which is used in skincare as a chemical exfoliant,” Michelle says.

Before whipping out start smearing your tub of yoghurt across your face, hold fire, Michelle warns.

“In reality, yoghurts have about 1 per cent (lactic acid), and generally, it’s recommended you use over 10 per cent if you want to get rid of pigmentation.”

Put simply, yoghurt isn’t strong enough to have an effect, but it can be soothing, hydrating, and cooling on the skin, so it’s not all bad, says Dr Wong.

Treatment for vaginal thrush: false

An old folk remedy is that putting a little yoghurt in your vagina is a natural way to fend off a yeast infection or cure it all together.

But the claim is totally false, according to Michael Tam, from University of NSW School of Population Health.

The theory is yoghurt has a type of good bacteria called lactobacillus, which naturally exists in your digestive system, urinary tract, and vaginal area and, in high doses, will restore the vagina to its natural state.

“The logic is biologically plausible, but what we know about health is that it’s complicated,” Michael says.

“Certainly, there’s been some trials, but when applied topically to the genitals or vagina, it doesn’t really work.

“Yoghurt is often cold so it can feel soothing and may ease the inflammation and discomfort of a yeast infection, but it won’t resolve it.”

Assist in weight loss: not yet proven

Research has linked yoghurt to a lower body mass index and improved gut health, better digestion, and less inflammation.

However, these studies acknowledge the jury is out when it comes to whether yoghurt causes people to weigh less or whether health-conscious people just tend to eat more of it.

A boost for gut microbiome: true

Gut microbiome has a significant impact on our digestive system and our overall wellbeing, and research shows yoghurt supports gastrointestinal health.

While it’s an area that needs further exploration, one explanation is the live bacteria in yoghurt supports the gut’s existing microbiota to help maintain the good bacteria that live there.