Yogurt for Health

What exactly is this simple, healthy food?  You make yogurt by adding two bacterial cultures, Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus, to pasteurized milk to trun it into a thicker, fermented form.  All forms of yogurt contain these cultures at the start, and many supplement with additional probiotics that are associated with specific health benefits. 

The healing benefits of yogurt have been known for centuries.  The active live cultures used for the making of yogurt and kefir are the good bacteria needed for your body to function at its highest level, can help you live longer and may fortify your immune system.  The good bacteria prevents the growth of harmful bacteria that cause bacterial infections and disease.  Good bacteria prevents imbalances in your body’s yeast levels.  Urinary tract infections and yeast infections can be prevented when your body is in balance.  Antibiotics will destroy the good bacteria present in your body.  Stress, sugar, menopause and processed food can also affect your body’s bacteria levels.  It is said that active live cultures actually reduce the yogurt’s level of lactose, therefore making yogurt a dairy alternative.  There are also many varieties of soy, rice and coconut milk yogurt.  Don’t be afraid to ask your local grocery if you don’t see it on the shelf.

Dairy yogurt is made from dairy products milk and cream that is cultured with active live cultures.  Your body’s intestines are filled with bacteria that has to maintain a delicate balance of power to keep you functioning.  If one type of bacteria flourishes, your intestinal flora will be off balance.  Yogurt will help restore balance in the intestinal system.  Eating yogurt is also good for, digestive problems such as irritable bowel syndrome, gas and bloating.

Yogurt is also a great source of calcium, phosphorus, riboflavin-vitamin B2, iodine and protein.  Protein is essential for many of your body’s systems and is also good for curbing your appetite.  You can add fruit, nuts, granola and fresh berries to yogurt.  Yogurt can also be added to fruit smoothies or you can substitue yogurt for milk in some recipes. 

In 2003, a Finnish study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, showed a common link to women who consumed probiotic-fermented milk products and fresh berry juice had a lower recurrence of urinary tract infections.  Daily consumption of just 3 ounces of probiotic yogurt improved the cholesterol profile, lowered LDL (bad cholesterol) while raising the good cholesterol, in a study with women volunteers.  Studies have also shown that freezing yogurt will not affect or reduce the probiotic content.  Probiotic supplements can also be taken.  Choose one that shows an expiration date for its living organisms.

It’s certainly best to buy organic yogurt.  I stay away from dairy and soy, so I purchase the rice or coconut milk yogurt.  I also don’t want any added sugar to my food, so I try to pick up the natural or vanilla yogurt and add the fruit, granola, agave nectar or honey for breakfast or snack.  I don’t care about the low fat variety because of the artificial sweeteners in them.  Look for yogurt that is low in sugar and doesn’t add trans fat or high fructose corn syrup.  Check the levels of active live cultures.  The more there are the better the benefit.  You can also use yogurt as a substitution for sour cream on baked potatoes, yams or other veggies (cooked or uncooked). 

I’m ending this blog with an update about my Dad.  He recently went into the hospital for bypass surgery.  Although the surgery was successful, almost four weeks later he is still in the hospital.  I was with him for the first two weeks and watched nurses (not all) going through “the motions” of care.  Unfortunately, my Dad was given a combination of five different drugs one night when he couldn’t sleep.  Not only did this set him back in his recovery, but it proved to me why I don’t like hospitals.  There is so much more to say about his care during his time in the hospital.  I can only hope that if someone you love is in the hospital, you or someone you trust is there at all times to oversee what the staff is doing.  I realize it is not an easy job to be a caregiver, doctor or nurse, especially when caring for the elderly.  And those who do are to be commended.  Thank you for your service.  I’m speaking from firsthand experience and from a daughter whose father is still in the medical system.

These statements are informational only. Please consult with your physician if you have questions.

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  • Katrina

    Thank you for this thoughtful article about the benefits of probiotics. I love So Delicious Coconut Milk Yogurt and Coconut Milk Kefir. For our family, they are the perfect sources of these healthy bacteria, because they are dairy-free and soy-free, and taste terrific. I hope you are able to bring your dad some in the hospital. As a daughter who observed the sometimes less-than-stellar care my elderly father received in the hospital, I know what you are going through. As you said, it is very important for patients to have a caring friend or family advocate with them at the hospital. I hope your dad quickly returns to vibrant health.