Is Yogurt Good for Diarrhea?

Yogurt can usually help with diarrhea. However, if you have an intolerance or allergy to lactose, it may worsen diarrhea. If you have diarrhea and would like to try yogurt as a home remedy, choose a brand that contains probiotics and is low in sugar.

This article discusses yogurt and its impact on diarrhea symptoms, including what to look for in yogurt, what to avoid, and when to see a healthcare provider for diarrhea.

Eating yogurt

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Does Yogurt Help Diarrhea?

Some people argue that yogurt can help ease symptoms of diarrhea, while others say it can make diarrhea worse. If someone is sensitive or intolerant to lactose, the latter can certainly be true. 

Symptoms of lactose intolerance include bloating, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and nausea. If you are sensitive to lactose or have lactose intolerance, then yogurt might make symptoms of diarrhea worse for you.

In these cases, it would be best to avoid eating yogurt and other dairy products—especially if you are experiencing diarrhea and other gastrointestinal (GI) related issues.

On the other hand, the beneficial bacteria (probiotics) in yogurt are thought to be the main reason for its ability to help decrease diarrhea symptoms. Research suggests that yogurt that contains live probiotics may help with certain types of diarrhea.

Yogurts With Probiotics Can Help Diarrhea

Yogurt is created through the process of bacterial fermentation of milk. Specific cultures of bacteria are added to milk, which then helps convert the milk sugars (lactose) into lactic acid. This helps the yogurt thicken. However, not all yogurts are created equal. 

The starter bacteria cultures are not considered probiotics, meaning they don’t always survive and grow to have beneficial effects in your gut. To be regarded as a probiotic, the bacteria must be alive and able to provide health benefits. 

What Are Probiotics?

Probiotics are live microorganisms, or “good bacteria,” that can provide health benefits, such as helping to balance and fight off harmful bacteria in your gastrointestinal system. They are naturally present in fermented foods. They are added to some other food products and are available as dietary supplements.

If a yogurt contains live bacteria cultures, it may be considered to have probiotics. However, many researchers have agreed that to have beneficial health effects, the yogurt must contain over 10 billion colony-forming units (CFUs) in each serving, and also have strains of bacteria that can survive the acidic environment of the GI tract.

Depending on the type of diarrhea you have, certain strains of probiotics may help lessen your symptoms.

Probiotics may help ease acute diarrhea caused by bacteria, as well as Clostridioides difficile–associated diarrhea, especially if taken at the first signs of symptoms. Probiotics may also be used as a preventative measure for diarrhea associated with antibiotics. This may help decrease symptoms of diarrhea by up to one day.

Choosing the Right Yogurt

Experts have found that certain strains of probiotic bacteria are better at treating or preventing diarrhea than others. These include:

Unfortunately, many yogurt manufacturers do not list the strain of bacteria they used nor the amount of CFUs in each serving. This makes it difficult to know which yogurt to choose for diarrhea. 

However, some brands will state that their product “contains live and active cultures.” Make sure the yogurt you buy has this statement on the container.

Things to Look for in a Probiotic Yogurt

When looking for a probiotic yogurt for diarrhea, look for one that:

  • Contains live and active cultures
  • Has 10 grams or less of sugar per serving
  • Is dairy or lactose-free (if you are lactose intolerant)

When to Avoid Yogurt if You Have Diarrhea

Avoid yogurts that are high in sugar because too much sugar might worsen diarrhea symptoms. Try to find a yogurt that contains 10 grams of sugar or less per serving.

Try a dairy-free alternative if you are lactose intolerant or find that traditional dairy probiotic yogurt makes your diarrhea worse. There are several dairy-free yogurts available that contain probiotics.

You can usually follow a normal, healthy diet when you have diarrhea. In most cases, research has shown that restricting your diet does not help treat diarrhea. Be sure to drink plenty of water and fluids to prevent dehydration.

When to See a Healthcare Provider

Acute, or short-term, diarrhea usually lasts one to two days and goes away on its own. Persistent diarrhea lasts anywhere from two to four weeks. If you have chronic diarrhea, it shouldn’t be ignored, especially if you are still experiencing symptoms after trying yogurt and other at-home remedies.

Contact your healthcare provider right away if you have severe diarrhea, diarrhea lasting for three days or more, or show signs of dehydration (loss of fluids), including:

  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Fatigue
  • Bloody or black stools
  • Fever of 102 F (39 C) or higher
  • Little or no urination
  • Dark or amber-colored urine
  • Extreme thirst
  • Dry mouth and skin
  • Sunken eyes or cheeks


Eating a probiotic-rich yogurt might help ease symptoms of your diarrhea and shorten the length of time you experience diarrhea. If you are sensitive to lactose or have lactose intolerance, choose a yogurt that is dairy- or lactose-free.

9 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Brittany Poulson, MDA, RDN, CD, CDCES
Brittany Poulson, MDA, RDN, CDCES, is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes care and education specialist.