Yogurt For Good Health And Longevity
Yogurt is loaded with carbs and proteins
Yogurt is a dairy product formed by bacterial fermentation of milk. Commercial yogurt is prepared by inoculating (seeding) the good bacteria Lactobacillus delbrueckii into the milk. Other lactobacilli, bifidobacteria, and Streptococcus thermophilus are also added. After inoculation, the milk is incubated at 40-46 degree Celsius (105-115 degree Fahrenheit ) until firm. Milk sugar or lactose gets fermented by these bacteria to produce lactic acid, which coagulates milk proteins to make yogurt. Harmful microbes cannot thrive in and spoil it, due to the heat and acid produced in the making process. Milk from cows, water buffaloes, yaks, goats, and mares is used for this purpose.
Yogurt has been known to the human race since hundreds of years. At that time, it was spontaneously fermented by wild bacteria in goatskin bags. In ancient India, a mixture of honey and yogurt was considered sacred and offered to gods during prayers. This was known as "Panchamrit" or "the food of the gods". Ilya Ilyich Mechnikow, the Russian Nobel prize-winning biologist from Pasteur Institute in Paris, laid down the hypothesis that regular intake of yogurt could lead to an unusually long lifespan, and that lactobacillus, the bacteria found in it, is essential for good health.
Yogurt is a natural probiotic.
Tarator is a cold soup made of yogurt, cucumber and herbs.
Varieties Of Yogurt
- Dahi is the form commonly eaten in the Indian subcontinent. Sweet yogurt or mishtidohi, common in eastern parts of India, is made by fermenting sweetened milk. Yogurt forms an essential part of Indian cuisine in various forms, such as raita (a side dish with cucumber and onions mixed in, and seasoned with cilantro, cumin, mint and other herbs and spices), sweet buttermilk with cream and fruit pulp added (lassi and mango lassi) and salted buttermilk without cream.
- Matsoni is a Georgian yogurt eaten in Caucasus and Russia and is believed to contribute to the exceptionally long lifespan of people in that region.
- Tarator is a cold soup, popular in Bulgaria, that is made of yogurt, cucumber, dill leaves, garlic and sunflower oil.
- Flavored yogurt is the sweetened form sold in single serving plastic cups. It comes in different flavors, that include strawberry, cherry, mango, blueberry, vanilla, honey, toffee, and chocolate. Two common forms of modern day sweetened yogurt include the Set type, in which the yogurt is packaged with fruit on the bottom of the cup and yogurt on top of it; and a Swiss style, in which the fruit is blended into the yogurt prior to packaging.
- The strained form that is prepared by pouring yogurt in a muslin or cheesecloth bag, which is then hung in the coolest place, with a tub placed underneath to collect the whey. It is thicker than the normal form and has a distinctive tangy taste. It is enjoyed in parts of Greece with pita sandwiches, in the form of a dip to which grated cucumber, olive oil, salt and mashed garlic, are added to enhance the flavor. Commercially available Greek Yogurt is the strained variety.
- Labneh is a strained yogurt used for sandwiches popular in Arab countries.
- Kefir is a fermented milk drink made with kefir granules.
Various health benefits associated with regular daily intake of yogurt, include the following:
1. Prevents Gum Disease
Gum disease begins with inflammation or swelling of the margins of gums. It is painless in early stages, though frequent gum bleeds can occur, especially while brushing the teeth. The disease spreads to involve the periodontal ligament and alveolar bone, on which the tooth sits. This bone gets resorbed slowly. The periodontal ligament that forms an attachment between the tooth and bone is also lost. The soft tissue separates from the tooth surface, causing gaps and "pocket" formation between the teeth. Bleeding occurs on probing and while chewing the food. When acute inflammation and infection is superimposed on this slow process, along with pus formation, then an abscess results. This ultimately leads to extreme bone loss, tooth mobility and recurrent abscess formation, and the tooth either falls off or needs to be extracted.
Yogurt strained through a cheesecloth
2. Is A Super food Loaded With Nutrients
Yogurt is nutritionally rich in proteins, calcium, vitamin-D, riboflavin (vitamin-B1), and pyridoxine (vitamin-B6). It also contains substantial quantities of vitamin-B12 or cyanocobalamin, which is otherwise present in liver, eggs, fish, meat and kidney. The deficiency of this vitamin could lead to anemia, nerve damage in the form of tingling and sensations of "pins and needles", and mental changes in the form of irritability, generalized weakness, sleepiness, confusion and deterioration of intellect. Those people who avoid animal foods and prefer to have a vegetarian diet should have enough milk and yogurt to fulfill their daily requirements of vitamin-B12. Yogurt contains varying amounts of fat depending on the quality of milk used. Some cow's milk yogurts contain no fat, others of low-fat content have 2% fat, whole milk variety may have up to 4% fat while some Greek yogurts may contain up to 10% of fat.
3. Is A Natural Probiotic
Probiotics are "the live microorganisms, which when administered in adequate amounts, confer health benefits on the host". Yogurt contains Lactobacilli, Bifidobacteria and some other species of good bacteria, that on regular intake, prevent malnutrition and promote well-being.
Kefir is a fermented milk drink made with kefir granules
4. Has Antiaging Benefits
According to the hypothesis laid by the Russian scientist and Nobel laureate Metchnikoff in his work "The Prolongation of Life; Optimistic Studies (1908)", 'the aging process results from the activity of putrefactive microbes producing toxic substances in large intestines. Certain proteolytic (that cause breakdown of proteins) bacteria, such as Clostridia, produce toxins that include phenols, indole and ammonia, from digestion of proteins. These compounds are responsible for 'intestinal autointoxication', that leads to physical changes associated with old age". Milk fermented with lactic acid bacteria retards the growth of toxin-producing harmful microbes, due to low pH (acid) produced by fermentation of lactose or milk sugar. Certain rural populations in Bulgaria and Russian Steppes, who subsist on milk fermented by lactic acid bacteria, have exceptionally long lifespans.
5. Improves Digestion
Individuals suffering from lactose intolerance develop severe abdominal cramps, bloating or distension and diarrhea after drinking milk. Such people are deficient in the intestinal enzyme lactase needed to digest the milk sugar lactose. Such individuals tolerate yogurt better than other dairy products due to the conversion of milk sugar lactose into glucose and galactose, and due to fermentation of lactose to lactic acid carried out by bacteria found in yogurt. It also helps prevent and treat various intestinal infections (gastroenteritis) and antibiotic-associated diarrhea. Long-term antibiotic therapy may cause an overgrowth of harmful pathogens, such as Clostridium difficile. Yogurt helps eliminate them. On regular intake, it also reduces constipation, decreases the risk of inflammatory bowel diseases (Ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease), stomach infections and colon cancer.
Reasons to have yogurt daily
- Prevents dental caries and gum problems.
- Boosts immunity.
- Prevents osteoporosis.
- Lowers high blood pressure.
- Reduces belly fat.
- Prolongs life span.
- Improves digestion.
6. Boosts Immunity and Prevents Cold and Flu
Lactobacilli and other good bacteria present in yogurt compete with harmful microbes and prevent them from infecting us. They also improve our body immunity by increasing the number of antibodies, T-lymphocytes and Natural Killer cells that fight against the viruses causing cold and flu.
7. Prevents Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a disorder of bones associated with a reduction in the mass of bone per unit volume. It leads to an increased risk of bone fractures after minor injuries. It occurs commonly in postmenopausal women and elderly people (both men and women over the age of 70). Yogurt is a natural source of calcium and vitamin-D. On regular long-term intake, it reduces the risk of severe bone damage due to osteoporosis.
8. Reduces high blood pressure
Yogurt is loaded with potassium that helps flush out excess sodium from our body and reduce high blood pressure.
9. Helps reduce belly fat
Yogurt intake helps us feel fuller faster. Strained variety made from whole milk has a high fat content, but the fat-free variant prepared from skimmed milk does not lead to weight gain. Harmful belly fat deposited around the waist is associated with high levels of the stress hormone cortisol. The calcium present in yogurt helps reduce the cortisol levels and makes it easier for us to lose weight, especially from around the waist while the amino acids present in it help burn fat.
10. Helps recover after an intense workout
Yogurt is loaded with carbohydrates that provide instant energy, and proteins (amino acids) that help repair damaged muscle fibers after an intense workout. Drinking around a liter of water after having a cupful adds to its benefits. It increases the absorption of water from intestines and keeps us hydrated.
Healthy Fruit Yogurt With Mint Dressing
Healthy Fruit Yogurt Recipe
- 1 whole apple, sliced.
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries.
- 3-5 tablespoonfuls of crushed walnuts.
- 3-5 tablespoonfuls of plain yogurt (blended).
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder.
In a medium sized bowl, mix sliced apple, walnuts, cranberries and blended yogurt. Sprinkle cinnamon powder, and decorate with a few apple slices and mint leaves. Serve chilled.