There has been plenty of buzz lately about the numerous health benefits of yogurt but much of the public is still largely unaware of exactly what those benefits are. You may have noticed when shopping at the grocery store that over the last few years the amount of space yogurt takes up in the dairy aisle has been steadily growing. Yogurt sales have never been stronger than they are now and this directly correlates to its rise in reputation among nutritionists and the health community.
Probiotics and healthy bacteria in yogurt
The number one health benefit of yogurt and what sets it apart from other healthy foods is that it contains a high quantity of probiotics, which are bacteria that have been established to have a positive affect on the digestive system. This bacteria is actively cultured during the production process of yogurt by heating milk to carefully regulated temperatures that promote the growth of specifically desired bacteria.
So what benefit does this bacteria have for our body? Well, our colon and our digestive system are actually loaded with many types of bacteria that help to break down foods and aid the digestive process. There are good and bad kinds of bacteria, though, and the bad kind can cause diarrhea and other bowel issues.
The kind of bacteria that is cultured in yogurt is the beneficial kind and it helps to fight against the existence of the unwanted bacteria. For this reason, yogurt is often very helpful to people suffering from diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome. The probiotics help to reestablish the natural healthy balance of bacteria in our digestive system.
Yogurt is packed with vitamins and minerals
Another health benefit of yogurt is that it is simply packed with vitamins and minerals such as calcium, riboflavin, the B vitamins, and the D vitamins. Even people who are lactose intolerant can usually enjoy yogurt because the lactose is converted to lactic acid by the bacterial culture. There have been studies that have shown that yogurt also has weight-loss benefits, as well.
Yogurt with active cultures has been found to help other gastrointestinal issues such as constipation, colon cancer, and inflammatory bowel disease. It is believed that yogurt changes the micro flora in the colon. It also enhances the body’s immune system and affects the amount of time food takes to travel through the bowels.
To get the most health benefits of yogurt it is recommended to eat at least a few servings a week, although many health-conscious individuals choose to eat yogurt every day. Yogurt comes in so many tasty varieties nowadays that it is not such a chore to incorporate it in to our daily diet routine. Try to eat it on an empty stomach, such as first thing in the morning, to get the maximum health benefits. If preferred, it can be eaten as a dessert and yogurt always makes a healthy substitute for ice cream.
One final word of advice. Always be sure to choose yogurt that is non-pasteurized because the pasteurization process removes the probiotics and other healthy bacteria. Thankfully, most of the yogurt you will find on the shelves today is non-pasteurized. Now try and find creative ways to incorporate at least one or two servings of yogurt a week in order to claim for yourself all of its digestive health benefits.