The amazing goodness of yogurt

As well as being an excellent source of calcium, protein, riboflavin, phosphorous and vitamin B12, yogurt promotes the growth of healthy bacteria in our guts.
These bacteria have a variety of important jobs, from helping to digest food to defending us against the unfriendly bacteria that cause infection and tummy upsets (including the bacterium Helicobacter pylori, the bug now recognized as a common underlying factor in digestive conditions such as ulcers and stomach cancer.)

Do all yogurts contain “good” bacteria?
While all yogurts starts off with it, these bacteria do not live forever. Depending on how the yogurt is processed, stored and when it is eaten, you may get less beneficial bacteria than you think. So buy the “live” kind, keep it in the fridge and, once opened, eat within a few days.
What about “fruit” yogurt?
There are two types: Fruit-flavored and fruit. The fruit flavored yogurts are simply made with flavorings and coloring. They are also often packed with sugar, which feeds the unfriendly bacteria in your gut. Also, some flavorings and colorings can aggravate hyperactivity in children who suffer from it. I suggest you buy plain yogurt and add fresh fruit such as banana and a grated apple.

What makes yogurt superior to milk?
Dairy products such as milk and cheese are rich in proteins that can be quite difficult to digest. When partially digested, they may trigger a variety of health issues such as sinus congestion, asthma, and eczema. Those who have lactose intolerance are prone to symptoms such as bloating, diarrhea, and gas after consuming milk, which is rich in lactose.
Because yogurt is cultured, it is more digestible than milk. Some strains of bacteria used in making yogurt have lactose-digesting ability, and this is reflected in that fact that yogurt contains less lactose than milk. This helps explain why those who struggle to digest lactose find they tolerate yogurt much better. Children, in particular, who are given yogurt rather than milk generally, have fewer gastrointestinal infections.

So start eating yogurt today. Have it with fruit or cereal for breakfast, in salad dressing, or as a healthier alternative to cream, in or on desserts.

Sona Parmar Mukherjee is a clinical nutritionist and certified by the Nutritional Therapy Council in the UK. Please direct any questions about family nutrition to her on

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