Legend has it that yogurt was invented accidentally. Somewhere long ago in Turkey, milk in a goat skin bag curdled (or fermented) during a desert journey.
That brave nomad must have been pleasantly surprised when he tried the end result. Turkey is still famous for it’s yogurt, but it’s different from the types of regular yogurt available at your local supermarket.
Commercial western yogurt is made by adding bacteria, usually lactobacillus bulgaricus and streptococcus thermophilus to pasteurised milk, then heating. These bacteria are responsible for many of yogurt’s claims to health fame.
Unfortunately, some processing steps destroy the bacteria. So, for the best nutritional benefit, make sure your yogurt label says “Active Yogurt Cultures.”
It’s commonly known that yogurt is a good source of calcium, riboflavin, protein, vitamin B12 and potassium, but being a natural ferment, the most significant benefit is the way yogurt helps to stabilise the ecology of the gut to aid digestion.
Aids Digestive Health
By eating natural, organic yogurt regularly, you may be able to avoid unpleasant intestinal problems.
There are over 400 different kinds of bacteria in your digestive tract. Some of these are good bacteria called Probiotics, which help keep harmful bacteria in check. However, things like antibiotics, food poisoning or other various illnesses often kill a lot of your good bacteria. The result can be intestinal upset including diarrhoea. You can help your body maintain the delicate balance between the good and bad bacteria by eating yogurt. With its wealth of probiotics, yogurt is a natural, healthy way to re-stock your inventory of good bacteria.
Both thousands of years of human experience and modern research over the last 40 years confirms that yogurt can help treat and perhaps prevent intestinal infections or diarrhea caused by bacteria such as Salmonella and Ecoli.
An eight ounce serving of yogurt provides calcium needed to strengthen bones. If you’re lactose intolerant, you’ll probably be able to digest yogurt much more easily than milk or other dairy foods.
Boost Immune System
A healthy immune system means you’re better able to ward off many diseases including cancer, and yogurt can be one food that helps. A University of California study found that by eating two cups of yogurt a day you increased an important immune system substance called gamma-interferon. Researchers have tested other specific probotics in yogurt and found many of them cause your body’s defense system to kick in. Make sure your yogurt contains live and active cultures in order to get this benefit.
Experts believe that more yogurt means less cholesterol circulating through your body. It took a remote tribe in Africa to spark scientific interest in this cholesterol-lowering effect of yogurt. The Maasai people have a low rate of heart disease despite consuming the sort of diet that would typically raise cholesterol levels, including large amounts of meat. Investigation uncovered a staple of their diet responsible for this unusual finding was fermented milk.
Perhaps for a good reason, women seem to be more likely to eat yogurt than men. A cup or two of yogurt a day may provide just the right amount of good bacteria to prevent or treat vaginal infections. So, if you’re prone to this type of complaint, organic yogurt provides great benefits.
If in doubt, when buying yogurt read the label. Look for kinds that contain Live Active Cultures and haven’t been heat-treated, since heat kills the beneficial bacteria. Also check the expiration date since the probotics in yogurt get weaker as the product ages. And avoid yogurts laden with sugar. Some yogurts have up to seven teaspoons of added sugar. Instead, get plain yogurt and sweeten it yourself with fresh fruit, honey, maple syrup or sweet leaf.