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Yogurt Can Prevent Hospital-Acquired Diarrhea?

Well, having grown up on a yogurt farm – nothing delights me more than scientific evidence that this fine dairy treat is good for your health.  Hats off to my friends at the Imperial College, London who just published a study showing that elderly, hospitalized individuals may use yogurt  to avert nasty bacterial infections that cause explosive diarrhea.

Yes, it’s the battle of the bugs at its best – the most common yogurt bacteria: Lactobacillus casei, L. bulgaricus, and Streptococcus thermophilus work together as pretty effective colonic bouncers for enemy bug C. difficile.  In this study, elderly patients (n=57) at risk for hospital acquired diarrhea (due to antibiotic use) were given 2 small active culture yogurt drinks/day during the time they received antibiotics and for one week afterwards.  Another group (n=56) was given similar drinks, but the yogurt cultures had been sterilized with heat (so there were no actual live bacteria in the yogurt).

And guess what?  None of the patients who drank the live yogurt got C. difficile infections, while 9 in the other group did!  That means that for every 5 elderly people in the hospital (and taking antibiotics) you could potentially save one from getting a painful gut infection.

So if grandma’s in the hospital on antibiotics, you might want to ask her doctor if she can eat yogurt. It may make the difference between a short stay and a long and unpleasant healthcare experience.This post originally appeared on Dr. Val’s blog at

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One Response to “Yogurt Can Prevent Hospital-Acquired Diarrhea?”

  1. Bradly Jacobs MD MPH says:

    Nice to see another well done study showing the effectiveness of probiotics to prevent c. difficile.  If you or your friend are every hospitalized, you might also simply ask the doctors if they carry ‘probiotics’ or ‘lactobacillus’ on their drug formulary.  Based on the evidence already available on this topic, many Veteran Affairs and Kaiser hospitals already stock this dietary supplement in their pharmacy. 

    If you do go with yoghurt, read the labels to be sure they have ‘active cultures’.

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