The importance of a healthy gut microbiome has been the subject of emerging research for several years now — and for good reason. Evidence continues to show the interconnectivity of the foods people eat with inflammation, immune function, and gut health.
The gut microbiome — which is a unique collection of microorganisms that live in the digestive system and play a role in human health — continues to be associated with numerous health conditions and diseases, including hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. With so many Americans affected by one or more of these chronic diseases and experiencing low-grade systemic inflammation, experts are focusing their attention on foods and eating patterns that may offer anti-inflammatory effects. This could mean good news for the dairy industry.
Recent studies have identified yogurt, whole-grain products, and green tea, among other foods, as foods that boast anti-inflammatory properties. Additionally, fermented foods, including yogurt, kefir, and many cheeses, contain probiotics that have proven success in supporting a healthy gut microbiome. While this favorably positions dairy foods, it’s important to note that no single food has a significant impact on inflammation and overall gut health; rather, including these foods within healthy, overall eating patterns leads to health benefits that are greater than the sum of their individual parts.
Dairy foods are nutrient-rich and already offer a range of health benefits, such as supporting children’s optimal growth and development. In addition to providing essential nutrients needed throughout life, dairy foods contain other unique non-vitamin and non-mineral components, known as bioactive compounds, embedded within its food matrix, which have health-promoting effects. When combined with the potential for positively impacting the gut microbiome, this builds even more support for the inclusion of yogurt, cheese, and other dairy foods as part of daily choices in healthy eating patterns.
Advancing knowledge of the gut microbiome and the health benefits of dairy are steps forward in the evolution of nutrition science. Dairy farmers and producers already play an important role in supporting human health by producing nutritious foods, but there is still more that can be done. Learn how you can support and share sound science and collaborate on strategies to improve the health of children and families by visiting HealthyEating.org/Science.