Balance Digestion, Improve Immunity, and Prevent Disease
In some form, yogurt has existed since at least 2000 BCE, and many food historians believe it predates recorded history, possibly going back as far as 9000 BCE Why such staying power? A bit of a wonder food, yogurt improves digestion, which can boost immunity and even help prevent colon cancer. One dairy product even most lactose intolerant people can eat, yogurt is loaded with active bacterial cultures, the key ingredients that make it so healthy.
While we typically think of bacteria as dangerous bugs that cause disease and infection, the body is host to billions of bacteria that live in the intestines and help digest the foods we eat. These good bacteria, or microflora, actually fight off the bad bacteria that cause illness.
Some of these same good bacterial species are used to ferment milk, and it's these cultures that give yogurt its texture and tart flavor. They also process much of the milk sugar, called lactose, during fermentation, which is why yogurt usually doesn't bother people with lactose intolerance.
Eating yogurt helps maintain the microflora in the gut, optimizing digestion and keeping harmful bacteria in check. Ever noticed how a course of antibiotics is often followed by a bout of diarrhea? This is because antibiotics kill off all the bacteria in the gut--the bad stuff and the good--leaving the gastrointestinal tract compromised. Fortunately, yogurt can help counteract this imbalance.
Furthermore, this food is a good source of nutrients, including B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. Whole milk yogurt also contains conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), an essential fatty acid with cancer fighting properties, especially beneficial in preventing breast and colon cancers. And CLA has been shown to increase fat metabolism, helping the body convert fat to lean muscle.
Maintaining the good bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract is key to healthy digestion, and eating quality yogurt is a great way to do this. Be sure to read the labels and choose varieties that contain live active cultures to ensure you're getting the most from your yogurt.
- Category: Nutrition