Yogurt Side Effects + Benefits

By Adriane Marie •  Updated: 11/03/22 •  14 min read

What are yogurt side effects and benefits every ethical consumer must know? Here are yogurt pros and cons and how buying them will impact your health, the environment, animals and laborers. 

yogurt benefits and side effects

Food is something we consume every day and if you’re like me, you do all the research you can to make sure you don’t hurt yourself, the planet, animals or others when shopping. As an ethical consumer myself, I am giving you all the info I’ve found on yogurt benefits and side effects.

You are going to learn all about yogurt benefits and side effects. This will include yogurt benefits for your health and potential risks, yogurt water footprint and yogurt carbon footprint, yogurt sustainability, if yogurt is vegan or impact animals in other ways, and much more. 

After learning if yogurt is good or bad for you, the environment, animals and human rights, you will be prepared to make the best choices you can the next time you buy food.

This post is all about yogurt benefits and side effects that every ethical consumer should know.

Must-Know Yogurt Benefits And Side Effects

HEALTH

Yogurt is good for / helps boost immune system, lung health, reduce bloating, bone strength, gut health, weight loss

Yogurt is bad for / increases the risk of hormone and antibiotic ingestion

Additionally, yogurt is…

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ENVIRONMENT

Water footprint: low, 1,186 liters of water used to produce 1 kilogram of yogurt concentrated, unsweetened, unflavored / 142 gallons of water used to produce 1 pound of yogurt concentrated, unsweetened, unflavored

Carbon footprint: moderate, 2.2 CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of yogurt, .90 CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of refrigerated yogurt

Destruction: high, yogurt production is relatively destructive, land usage for pasture, grain and forage, solid waste (excrement/manure) runoff into soil and freshwater, deforestation for feed crops, animal agriculture leading cause of: species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution and habitat destruction, responsible for up to 91% of Amazon destruction

Yogurt is…

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ANIMALS

Kills: none, yogurt production does not require any animals to be killed

Harms: cows and halves, cows are required to be used in order to produce yogurt, mother cow and baby calf are distressed due to separation within 24 hours after birth, male calves are slaughtered for veal (dairy industry can only use females), female calves fed artificially, locked in tiny cages, cows genetically modified to grow so obese that many become lame (unable to walk), cows are shocked with electric prods, shackled with chains and dragged, beaten, prods poked up rectums, cows live their last few months in crowded feedlots with hundreds or thousands of others, without pasture, often without shelter, must stand in mud, ice and their own waste, dairy cows are slaughtered for beef once milk production has ended

Indirectly kills or harms: the dairy industry sells “unwanted” male calves to be slaughtered for veal (pregnancy must occur for female cows to lactate and produce milk) habitat contamination (water and soil pollution from animal waste), wildlife habitat destruction (deforestation/land clearing), wolves and coyotes killed to prevent predation on livestock 

Yogurt is…

LABORERS

Health and safety: varies, overall, agriculture continues to be one of the most dangerous industries, farmworkers may be subject to dehydration, heat stroke, unprotected exposure to harmful, toxic chemicals and pesticides, unsafe machinery and clean drinking water may not always accessible

Living conditions: varies, laborers are often exploited, they may face tough working conditions including long hours in the sun and heat performing physically exhausting tasks, labor laws and rights may or may not be in place, even if worker protection exists, employer violations may go unreported, refugees and migrant workers are especially vulnerable to abuse and mistreatment, fearing consequences of job loss or deportation

Wages: varies, generally farmworkers earn meager wages, there are many cases of underpaid agricultural workers, wage theft and no overtime payment or benefits

Yogurt…

Where does most yogurt come from?

The world’s top yogurt exporting country is Germany, followed by France, Greece, Belgium, Spain, UK, Austria, Canada, USA and Poland.

In the United States Wisconsin has the most dairy plants (199 dairy product plants).

Other leading dairy processing states were New York with 123 plants and California with 114 plants. US yogurt production totaled 4.4 billion pounds in 2019. 

Is yogurt nutritious?

Yogurt is high in probiotics, protein, calcium and potassium but often contains antibiotics and hormones such as rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone) which is a genetically engineered synthetic hormone by Monsanto to increase milk production levels, resulting in cow mastitis infections, ultimately requiring more antibiotics.

What are some yogurt substitutes and yogurt alternatives?

Check out Switch4Good’s Dairy Free Meal Plan for recipes, ideas and tips on ditching milk and dairy for good!

yogurt is acidic when plain and acidic when sweetened. yogurt side effects include not fitting into an alkaline diet.

acidic foods and alkaline diet benefits that improve ph levels

Is yogurt alkaline or acidic?

Yogurt is acidic when plain and acidic when sweetened.

What is the pH level of yogurt?

Yogurt has a 5.5 pH level when sweetened once digested and 6.0 pH level when plain once digested.

When you eat food, it breaks down to an ash residue that can be neutral, acidic or alkaline. Minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium, zinc, silver, copper and iron produce an alkaline ash; whereas sulfur, phosphorus, chlorine and iodine, which are in meat, coffee, dairy and alcohol, leave an acid ash.

Going alkaline easier than ever with this: Acidic and Alkaline Foods List

yogurt is gluten free.

glutinous foods have side effects but a gluten free diet can help

Is yogurt gluten free?

Yes, yogurt is gluten free. Yogurt does not contain gluten.

While celiac disease may not be as rampant as many marketing trends lead us to believe, you may have a gluten sensitivity…

Celiac and gluten sensitivity symptoms are similar and may include:

There are hundreds of potential symptoms, many of which are also symptoms of other conditions.

Going gluten-free easier than ever with this: Gluten and Gluten Free Foods List

yogurt is a common food allergen: milk. yogurt side effects include being dangerous for some.

side effects of common food allergens like milk, wheat, soy, fish, tree nuts, peanuts, eggs and crustaceans

Is yogurt a common food allergen?

Yes, yogurt contains a common food allergen: milk. Many people experience allergic reactions to yogurt.

A group of the eight major allergenic foods, AKA the Big-8, include:

These foods account for about 90% of all food allergies in the United States.

Severe food allergies can be life threatening. Following ingestion of a food allergen, a person with food allergies can experience a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. 

Persons may still be allergic to and have serious reactions to foods other than the eight foods identified by the law.

Be aware of common dietary restrictions and food allergens with this: The Big 8 Most Common Food Allergens List

yogurt is a fermented food.

fermented foods benefit gut health and good bacteria

Is yogurt a fermented food?

Yes, yogurt is a fermented food.

Foods that are fermented use an old process that can extend shelf life, provide healthy probiotics and add nutritional value. One nutrient that can be acquired is vitamin B12 -especially desirable for vegans and vegetarians, as it is typically not in plant foods.

Fermented foods help the body digest food, fight off bad bacteria, make certain vitamins, maintain a healthy balance, and restore gut health after taking antibiotics. 

When too many bad gut microbes exist it can create an imbalance between beneficial and harmful gut bacteria, which leads to health problems. In some cases intestinal walls can weaken and their contents may leak into the bloodstream, commonly referred to as leaky gut syndrome. Fermented foods strengthen intestinal walls. 

For optimal gut health and overall wellbeing fermented foods are a great daily addition to your diet. Common fermented foods include: kefir, tempeh, natto, kombucha, miso, kimchi, sauerkraut and yogurt.

Check out this Fermented Foods List to see them all.

yogurt is a high-fodmap food.

fodmap friendly food

Is yogurt FODMAP friendly?

No. Yogurt is a high-FODMAP food so you should limit or eliminate it while on a low-FODMAP diet. 

A low FODMAP diet may help those with bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea, stomach pain, and IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).

It’s all about knowing your body. Observe what works and what doesn’t. You body might even react negatively to a low-FODMAP food simply due to intolerance. Everyone is different! Be mindful and patient. Take time to get to know what’s best for your physical health and overall wellbeing.

See this High-FODMAP and Low-FODMAP List of Food

yogurt has a low water footprint.

water footprints of food and products

Does yogurt have a high or low water footprint?

Yogurt has a relatively low water footprint compared to other foods.

What is the water footprint of yogurt?

It takes 1,186 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram of yogurt concentrated, unsweetened, unflavored / 142 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of yogurt concentrated, unsweetened, unflavored.

Did you know that water is a finite, non-renewable resource?

We must do what we can to conserve fresh water and a major way to reduce needless water consumption is to change the way we eat. That’s not to say we need to reduce our water intake…quite the opposite. It’s important for our health to drink lots of water and eat foods that hydrate. The kind of water conservation we’re talking about here is behind the scenes.

How much water does it take to produce an apple? A serving of rice? A steak dinner?

We need to be aware of “water footprints”. That is, the amount of fresh water utilized in the production or supply of goods we consume. As it turns out it takes significantly more water to yield foods that come from animals than foods that come from plants. Imagine how much water a cow needs to consume to generate a piece of beef. Not only how much water a single cow drinks, rather all the water that went into producing the crops that the cow ate.

Find out how much water your food consumes with this: Water Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List

yogurt has a moderate carbon footprint.

carbon footprints of food and food emissions

Does yogurt have a high or low carbon footprint?

Yogurt has a relatively moderate carbon footprint compared to other foods.

What is the carbon footprint of yogurt?

It takes around 2.2 CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of yogurt, .90 CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of refrigerated yogurt.

Food not only has a water footprint but also a carbon footprint, known as CO2e, which stands for carbon dioxide equivalent. Since carbon measurements are a bit more difficult to comprehend, it is common to equate CO2e to the distance which a car drives in miles or kilometers.

When calculating carbon emissions, some factors may include…

But that’s not all!

It’s best to keep the following in mind when grocery shopping:

Find out how much carbon your food emits with this: Carbon Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List

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yogurt is unsustainable. yogurt side effects include being destructive for the environment.

yogurt side effects include being destructive for the environment.

Is yogurt sustainable?

No. Yogurt production is relatively unsustainable.

A 2018 Oxford University study – which is the most comprehensive analysis to date of the damage farming does to the planet – found that ‘avoiding meat and dairy is the single biggest way to reduce your impact on Earth’ as animal farming provides just 18% of calories but takes up 83% of our farmland.

Consuming animal products and byproducts is not environmentally friendly and is one of the worst things for the Earth. Not only is meat production wasteful, it causes enormous amounts of pollution. The industry is one of the biggest causes of climate change.

A 2010 United Nations report said that a global shift towards a vegan diet is vital to save the world the worst impacts of climate change.

Read more about ‘What Makes Food Sustainable Or Unsustainable?’

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yogurt is not vegan. yogurt side effects include harming animals during the production process.

yogurt side effects include harming animals during the production process.

Is yogurt vegan?

No, yogurt is not vegan. Yogurt is dairy, the byproduct of a cow, sheep or goat, therefore making it an animal-derived food. A mother cow, mother sheep or mother goat’s milk must be used in order to produce yogurt. 

Animals of factory farms and the livestock industry are suffering. They live in horrific conditions that often include confinement, physical abuse and unnatural environments…so much so that they need to receive antibiotics to keep from getting ill or spreading disease. They’re also injected with growth hormones to become fatter faster and live short lives, being slaughtered as soon as they finish growing and are killed prematurely, well before their natural lifespan.

Because we cannot see for ourselves how these animals live and what they endure does not mean it isn’t happening. The meat, poultry and dairy industries do everything they can to distance us from knowing how our food comes to be in order to keep us in the dark about what we support each time we buy animal derived products and byproducts.

Go vegan for animals!

It’s the best way to help animals and it’s not as difficult as you may think. Speak for animals with your actions, for they cannot speak at all.

Going vegan is easier than ever, at a glance with this: Vegan and Non Vegan Foods List

yogurt has labor issues and human rights concerns.

benefits of buying fair trade, labor rights, human rights and workers rights issues

Is yogurt a product with labor concerns?

At this time there are concerns with yogurt production and labor mistreatment.

It’s important to stay aware of human rights concerns and worker exploitation that may come with specific brands.

Did you know the single largest employer in the world is agriculture? The labor involved behind each and every product cannot go unrecognized. 

Sadly, many labor concerns exist around the world in both developed and developing countries. We must be vigilant to ensure what we buy is not contributing to industries that are unfair to their valuable workers. Some known problems include workplace health and safety, child labor, gender inequality, inadequate pay, wage theft and exploitation. Workers can even experience to harassment, humiliation and violence and unfair employers often fail to provide laborers with access to shade, drinking water, restrooms and breaks. Consequently, laborers can face nausea, dizziness, heat exhaustion, dehydration and heat stroke -the leading cause of farmworker death! 

Such mistreatment is like modern day slavery. Workers are often afraid to report issues because they fear it will result in losing their jobs or deportation. 

Fair trade organizations fight to ensure better social, environmental and economic standards. 

We can improve people’s lives with foods we eat every day simply by buying products that are certified fair trade. 

This post was all about yogurt benefits and side effects.

Sources:

Harvard, The Nutrition Source, Yogurt

Yogurt, plain, low fat – FoodData Central

Harvard Medical School: Fermented foods can add depth to your diet

Agricultural marketing resource center: yogurt

Yoghurt – Dairy Food Safety Victoria

Green America: antibiotics in the dairy industry

Adriane Marie

Hi, I'm Adriane, creator of HEALabel! I organize info for you to comprehensively see how purchases impact health, environment, animals and laborers. Stay aware because you care! Subscribe below to get my weekly newsletter with tips, new info and other ethical consumer insight.

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