Yogurt has been around so long, no one really seems to know where it started. Its use is widespread in Asia and parts of Europe, and there is a belief that cultures who consume a lot of yogurt in their diets have a healthier and longer lifespan.
Let’s take an in-depth look at yogurt and see what is fact, what is fiction and answer the question “Is yogurt good for you?”
What is Yogurt?
Yogurt is simply bacterial fermented milk. When milk is left exposed to the air, bacteria acts on the lactose in the milk and converts it to lactic acid. Through this process, the milk curdles, thickens and gets a tangy taste. The result is yogurt.
Yogurt is consumed in a number of different ways depending on the culture.
With our preference for sweets, we tend to prefer the prepackaged varieties that come with fruits and other sweeteners. While many of these are delicious, you have to be careful of the amount of added sugar if you are looking to trim down and get a lean and sexy physique.
For this reason, while the Yoplait flavors are delicious, you should treat them more as an occasional snack, or even dessert, due to the high calorie and sugar count.
Yogurt Benefits – What Makes Yogurt So Good?
Whether you believe it or not, part of the goodness of yogurt comes from the bacteria in it. The lactic acid bacteria is actually a form of probiotic.
The science of probiotics itself started when yogurt was examined and the bacteria in it identified. In fact, the Russian Noble laureate Elie Mechnikov, one of the pioneers of probiotics, hypothesized that the reason for the unusually long lifespan of Bulgarian peasants was their consumption of yogurt.
Bacteria has a number of benefits. It populates our gut with “good” bacteria, meaning that there is less space for “bad” bacteria to form. The good bacteria reduces the pH levels of the entire digestive tract, which kills off bacteria that is harmful to us.
This is vital for a healthy digestive track.
It’s also directly responsible for reducing the incidence of colon cancer in people. Not all bacteria is bad for you, and the probiotics in the yogurt is proof!
The probiotics in yogurt boost your immune system. Recent studies have shown that they not only help to reduce the pain and degree of inflammation associated with autoimmune diseases like arthritis, but they also help stop the progression of the disease.
There are many more benefits I could go into, and that would be a separate article in itself. Suffice it to say that it is the probiotics in the yogurt that give us so many of the benefits.
This raises another question, which is… “Can’t I just take a probiotic supplement?
There are a number of probiotic capsules that you can take and derive the same benefits but, instead of getting a natural product, you are getting something that someone else is manufacturing for you.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news but most manufacturers aren’t concerned with your health. They want to maximize profits and if it calls for a few short cuts along the way, then so be it.
Having said that if you use a reputable brand with a high dose of good bacteria from a wide variety of strains then that can be a good option.
The problem is that manycompanies load their pills with cheap fillers such as “rice flour” so you aren’t consuming all good stuff. For this reason, you’re always better off getting your nutrition from natural food.
Also, yogurt has nutritional value you wouldn’t get if you took a probiotic directly.
One small eight ounce cup of yogurt gives you 275 mg of calcium, which is comparable to the 300 mg that you get from one glass of milk.
And, since yogurt has very low amounts of lactose, even lactose intolerant people can take it, getting their calcium requirements from a natural source.
Let’s break down the nutritional content of yogurt a little further. Here are the nutrition facts for a standard 100 gram (3.5 oz) serving:
- Calories – 61
- Carbohydrates (mostly from sugar) – 5 grams
- Fat – 3.3 grams (2.1 saturated)
- Protein – 3.5 grams
- Calcium – 121 mg
Most of the yogurt that you get prepackaged in stores doesn’t have live bacteria.
They are pasteurized to arrest the fermentation of the milk at a certain stage, and also to increase the shelf life of the product.
This is unfortunate because so much of the goodness of yogurt comes from the live bacteria that is contained in it.
So, get yogurt that has the live culture still in it.
You can culture it yourself, if you want.
All you have to do is leave milk out for three to eight hours depending on the ambient temperature and you’ll have a finished product.
It may take a few trials with you seeding the next batch with the previous one before you get the thick creamy texture similar to what you get with the yogurt that is already packaged.
Great Yogurt Smoothie
The easiest and best way to get your daily consumption of yogurt is to put 4-8 ounces into your daily smoothie or protein drink. It mixes deliciously with most milks and protein powders.
I love to blend mine with orange juice, vanilla protein and some ice cubes for a delicious orange crème smoothie!
If you really want to make your smoothie even more delicious, try adding frozen yogurt.
My favorite dessert yogurt recipe that is still relatively healthy is frozen yogurt, frozen banana, orange juice and strawberries. It is absolutely amazing!
So my recommendation to you would be to add yogurt to your diet. It’s very good, and whether it increases your lifespan or not, it at least keeps you healthy for as long as you’re alive. It gives your body the natural probiotics it needs to boost your immune system and to have a healthy digestive track.
Just remember to stay away from Yoplait and other mainstream brands that have high amounts of added sugar. Although they’re extremely delicious, they’re essentially like eating dessert.
Here at FormulatedFitness.com we are giving two HUGE thumbs up for the plain, no added sugar, non-fat yogurt and 2 thumbs down to the sugar laden flavored yogurts.
What do you think about yogurt? Do you include it in your diet? Please share below.