Written by Dr. Savannah Muncy, Pharm.D on
August 12, 2021
Reading Time: 6 minutes

Medically Reviewed by our Medical Affairs Team

Written by Dr. Savannah Muncy, Pharm.D on:

You’re about to take another cup of yogurt from the fridge… but these past few days, you’ve been having a foggy brain. So, you ask “can yogurt cause brain fog?” Is yogurt causing your cloudy mind?

Let’s dive into a few details and take a look at the variables!

What is yogurt exactly?

The method for making yogurt is similar to that of making cheese.

Yogurt is made by adding a starter culture to milk and leaving it in a warm climate to ferment/sour. The starter culture comes from either acidophilus, or Lactobacillus bulgaricus.

These strains of bacteria are considered probiotics.

Probiotics are good bacteria found in and on our body naturally. They keep our immune system strong and fight off bad bacteria that we come in contact with.

Once the bacteria starter is added to milk, the milk mixture sits in a warm climate to ferment.

During fermentation the probiotics that were added to the milk take over by eat sugars and components found in the milk like lactose and other bacteria.

Once the yogurt has finished this process of fermentation, it is then filtered and packaged as yogurt.

“Fake” Yogurt

Yea.. fake yogurt is thing and I’m not talking about your child’s play food. I’m talking about most of the yogurt you will find on grocery store shelves.

What makes yogurt fake?

The fermentation process mentioned above is the traditional method. As with most traditional methods of making food, it takes time. Time is not something that modern food factories want to do. They do with yogurt what they do with other processed foods and cut corners to make more money.

Quality goes out the window and here come the additives!

Yogurt found in stores today has a much shorter “fermentation” process. Instead of allowing the milk to ferment naturally, they add lactic acid. Lactic acid speeds up the process. Taking the time down from 12 hours to only 3-4 hours for a batch of yogurt.

The results may seem similar, but they aren’t the same.

This is why when you read labels on yogurt it has additives like thickeners such as, cornstarch, guar gum and tapioca. Along with added probiotics and preservatives. A truly fermented food does not need these ingredients.

When is yogurt NOT beneficial?

After reading the above you’re probably thinking that yogurt sounds pretty healthy!

What’s the big deal?

Probiotics are important and yogurt can be beneficial for some people but for others… not so much!

There are a few reasons why yogurt can cause inflammation and contribute to brain fog!

Can Yogurt Cause Brain Fog: Too Much of a Good Thing

While we do need probiotics to survive, studies have shown that you can have too much of a good thing.

Recent research has linked brain fog and bloating to the overgrowth of certain bacteria in the intestines from taking in too many probiotics.

During the study the subjects stopped taking probiotics and 85% of those people reported a relief in symptoms.

It’s important to be aware the bacteria in our intestines is a gentle eco system that needs a balance.

High in Sugar

The sugar content in yogurt is typically very high. Sugar is bad for the brain because it causes inflammation. Inflammation is a key contributor to brain fog symptoms and it has been linked to depression and anxiety as well.

Some popular yogurt brands contain up to 30 or 35 grams of sugar in one serving!

Sugar causes brain fog because it creates an insulin spike in the blood. When this happens our body tries to regulate it by releasing a hormone called cortisol (the stress and starvation hormone).

Cortisol is assigned the task of lowering glucose levels, which causes you to crave more sugar!

So now your brain is unable to focus and your body is stressed from all the excess cortisol.

When your body is producing cortisol it’s unable to create the focus hormone, Dopamine.

This is a vicious cycle that is hard to break and it’s why you should avoid sugar if you want to keep your brain healthy!

Artificial Flavors

Many popular yogurt brands contain artificial flavors. When artificial flavors are added to a food, it’s to trick your brain into thinking that it tastes good.

This is done a lot with prepackaged and processed foods.

Most processed foods don’t actually taste good because of all the chemical additives and processing agents.

So the factories add flavors to make them “palatable” and taste like certain ingredients that the product may not actually contain.

Consuming additives like artificial flavors can be confusing to the pathways in the brain and can lead to a variety of health issues including brain fog. This can be confusing for the body and cause a wide variety of brain fog symptoms including mood issues.

Dairy

Most yogurt is made from cows milk. Dairy is one of the most common food allergies. With a wide variety of symptoms ranging in severity.

Some people don’t experience digestive discomfort after eating but it can still have a negative affect on the nervous system.

Dairy is a highly processed food. It’s been homogenized and pasteurized for sanitation purposed but this actually changes to molecular structure of the milk making it more difficult to digest.

Proteins in dairy are often referred to as “casomorphins”. Casomorphines get their name because of their structure resembling that of morphine. What these proteins do is cause a reaction similar to a drug abuse by triggering the brain’s opiate receptors.

Casomorphines are a component responsible for cognitive symptoms of autism. That just goes to show how something that seems little like a protein can negatively impact a person who’s isn’t able to process it.

So even if you’re not double over from stomach pain you could be experiencing neurological affects like brain fog symptoms including tiredness, confusion, or trouble thinking. Accompanied by emotional symptoms like, irritability, depression and moodiness.

Artificial Sweeteners

One of the most common and dangerous artificial sweeteners in yogurts is aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet).

This additive has been linked to severe brain fog symptoms like: anxiety, headaches, moodiness, memory loss, confusion and fatigue.

Aspartame also induces or aggravates chronic illnesses such as: migraines, epilepsy and fibromyalgia.

There have been many studies published linking Aspartame to the development of brain tumors. A study at Washington University School of Medicine revealed that artificially sweetened drinks actually changed the brains metabolism in ways that may lead to brain damage.

Another study published by the University of Iowa showed that Aspartame consumption may lead to memory impairment and brain fog symptoms like, depression.

This is why whenever you are eating out or getting food at a supermarket make sure to read ingredients labels! Not only can this potentially save your brain but it could also improve your quality of your life!

Emulsifiers

Emulsifiers are additives used to thicken and prevent the ingredients in processed food products from separating. This is because they have to be prepared to travel many miles and then sit on a store shelf for an unhealthy about of time. Emulsifiers are ingredients that look like, mono- and diglycerides, carrageenan (possible carcinogen), polysorbate 60, xanthan gum and Guar Gum.

Gums like guar gum or xantham gum are used as emulsifiers but have a similar molecular structure to gluten and can cause similar affects side affects when ingested.

Emulsifiers on their own have been linked to brain fog symptoms like: depression, anxiety and behavioral issues in children. These chemicals can be just as destructive as gluten, dairy and other harmful food substances that increase brain fog symptoms.

Low Fat

Our brain is composed of up to 60 percent fat!

So if you are eating a low fat yogurt, your not giving your brain the fuel it needs.

Low fat dairy has an immediate affect on blood glucose levels and can cause extreme brain fog symptoms.

Although many dietitians praise low fat yogurt for helping people lose weight, its actually the complete opposite!

Low-fat diets not only give you brain fog but also increase your chances of suffering from memory disorders.

This is because the hippocampus, which is responsible for explicit memory gets smaller when you eat low fat diets.

If you’re wanting to get in a good dose of fat to fuel your brain, stick with organic butter and fatty fish to improve cognitive function. This will enhance the blood flow to the brain giving you the results you want.

Not only will a diet high in Omega Fatty Acid increase your ability to think but it can also help with symptoms like memory loss and other brain fog symptoms.

Research also suggests that people who consume high amounts of saturated fats and trans-fats were found to have significantly greater cognitive impairment compared to those who didn’t.

Tips For Eating Yogurt

  1. Stay in tune with your body. Notice how you feel after you’ve eaten. Food is energy and fuel. If you feel tired, groggy or have trouble thinking after you’ve eaten, try a different food!
  2. If you feel your body handles eating yogurt just fine, then make sure to buy or make yourself, Organic Full Fat Plain Yogurt then sweeten with raw honey or unsweetened fruit spreads.
  3. Keep a food diary. This is a great method to pinpointing what your trigger foods are and what your body thrives from consuming.

Does yogurt make your brain fog worse? Feel free to leave your comments below!

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