By Dr. Harold Gunatillake – Health Writer
If an apple a day will keep you away from the doctor, what will you say about yoghurt, being so much more beneficial to living a healthier lifestyle?
Its benefits have been cited for centuries, but its popularity as a health food has never been stressed. Yoghurt benefits your health in a variety of ways, and it should definitely be added to your shopping list the next time you visit the super-market or your grocery store.
What is yoghurt and how is it made? Yoghurt is simply milk or cream that is cultured with active live cultures of bacteria. These bacteria prevent the growth of harmful bacteria that cause diseases in your gut. It is also referred to as a pro-biotic; an article on the subject has been written by me previously, as “Knowing About Probiotics And Their Health Benefits” early this year published in The Sunday Leader and through email circulation.
An extract from that article: “Our alimentary system or the bowel is inhabited with millions of good and bad bacteria. The good micro-organisms may help with digestion and offer protection from harmful bacteria, just as the existing ‘good’ bacteria in your body already do to improve the intestinal microbial balance.”
According to the adopted definition by FAO/WHO probiotics are: “Live micro-organisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host. The most common types of bacteria used as probiotics are Lactic acid bacteria and Bifidobacteria, and certain yeasts and other bacilli may also be helpful.”
Probiotics are available as nutritional supplements which can be added to your diet or found in foods such as yoghurt, fermented and unfermented milk, miso and some juices and soy drinks.
Healthy levels of good bacteria as found in yoghurt will boost the immune system, in addition to keeping your gut free of disease producing bacteria.
The difference between taking antibiotics and pro-biotics for gut bacterial infections is that the antibiotics will destroy the good beneficial germs whilst the probiotics will nurture the healthy bacterial flora. Eating yoghurt regularly can help restore your good bacteria levels. Yoghurt is also beneficial to individuals having lactose intolerance, as the active live cultures reduce yoghurt’s level of lactose.
High Calcium Level
Yoghurt has a very high calcium level as it is made from dairy products. High calcium levels are important for your bones (prevent osteoporosis) and teeth health. Calcium seems to encourage the body to maintain and lose weight. Yoghurt forms a part of the weight watcher’s diet.
High Protein Content
Enjoy ice cold yoghurt after a gym work-out. It is an excellent source of protein like the eggs: it helps give the body lost energy through exercise and keep you going throughout the day. Yoghurt will also curb your appetite, which is most important if obesity is a problem. An average 150 gram serving provides approximately 20 per cent of the daily value for protein.
When buying yoghurt go for the natural organic yoghurts. Choose the ones with low sugar and no added trans-fat or high fructose corn syrup. You need also to check the amount of active live cultures. The more active live cultures in the yoghurt, the more benefits you will receive from them.
Yoghurt is generally made with pasteurized milk or cream and if the pasteurizing is done after the culturing process, it can kill the active live cultures and lose the benefits. So, go for it daily.