Immunologic effects of yogurt

Am J Clin Nutr. 2000 Apr;71(4):861-72. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/71.4.861.


Many investigators have studied the therapeutic and preventive effects of yogurt and lactic acid bacteria, which are commonly used in yogurt production, on diseases such as cancer, infection, gastrointestinal disorders, and asthma. Because the immune system is an important contributor to all of these diseases, an immunostimulatory effect of yogurt has been proposed and investigated by using mainly animal models and, occasionally, human subjects. Although the results of these studies, in general, support the notion that yogurt has immunostimulatory effects, problems with study design, lack of appropriate controls, inappropriate route of administration, sole use of in vitro indicators of the immune response, and short duration of most of the studies limit the interpretation of the results and the conclusions drawn from them. Nevertheless, these studies in toto provide a strong rationale for the hypothesis that increased yogurt consumption, particularly in immunocompromised populations such as the elderly, may enhance the immune response, which would in turn increase resistance to immune-related diseases. This hypothesis, however, needs to be substantiated by well-designed randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled human studies of an adequate duration in which several in vivo and in vitro indexes of peripheral and gut-associated immune response are tested.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / immunology
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / immunology
  • Hypersensitivity / prevention & control
  • Immunity*
  • Lactobacillus
  • Neoplasms / immunology
  • Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Preventive Medicine*
  • Yogurt*