- A bowl of Yogourt every day
also keeps the doctor away any day!
Courtesy: Mani, Kalakad
Cup of yogurt a day is a way of keeping the doctor away.
Research proves that yogurt is not just a food Accompaniment, a dessert or merely a diet food. There is growing Evidence to show that it is packed with microscopic warriors - Beneficial bacteria that are essential for good health. It is also a nutritional goldmine.
According to the National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad , a cup of yogurt (250 mg) contains 370 mg of calcium (compare that with 300 mg in 250 ml of milk). This is 30-40 per cent of most adults' daily needs.
Besides, at eight grams of protein per cup, yogurt meets 20-25 per cent of an adult's average daily needs. It is also a good source of Vitamin B (including folacin) and phosphorus. And, a cup of yogurt contains 250 mg of potassium - almost as much as a banana does.
"If you want to have your own stockpile of B vitamins without having to buy them, eat yogurt. By a strange chemistry, it sets up an efficient little factory in the intestinal tract and manufactures B vitamins for you," says Pratima Kaushik, chief dietician at the Vidyasagar Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Delhi . Besides, yogurt also provides lactic acid, which aids protein, calcium and iron assimilation.
For those on a low-calorie diet, yogurt is a boon in any case. "Easily available anywhere, it is a snack that tastes great at any time of the day; it is low in calories and can be sufficiently filling when combined with a high-fibre vegetable or fruit," says Dr Shikha Sharma of Clinic de Rejuvenation, Delhi . The benefits of yogurt go beyond its nutritional value and low-calorie appeal.
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, in an article published in 2000, says, "Increased yogurt consumption may enhance the immune response, which would in turn increase resistance to immune-related diseases." In addition, yogurt plays an important role in restoring the digestive tract to its normal condition after a course of antibiotics.
"The drugs often wipe out every bacterium in their path, good and bad, altering the natural balance of the digestive tract.
When harmful bacteria dominate the intestine, essential nutrients are not produced and the levels of damaging substances like carcinogens and toxins rise. By killing the harmful `bugs', Yogurt helps maintain a healthy balance of intestinal bacteria," Says Dr Mridula Chichra, a Delhi-based gynaecologist.
In the Indian context particularly, doctors and practitioners of alternative medicine often recommend yogurt to patients recovering from diarrhoea, and help ease other intestinal tract ailments.
Elixir for women
Women stand to benefit immensely from yogurt. For instance, women are often prone to vaginal candidosis, which causes itching and possibly a thick, white discharge. The risk of this infection increases during pregnancy, diabetes or when a woman is on birth control pills. "Eating yogurt that contains natural bacteria and yeasts helps re-establish the Equilibrium," says Pratima. A study conducted by E. Hilton et al (Annals of Internal Medicine) in 1992 found that yogurt consumption decreased vaginal infections three-fold. "A particular feature of vaginal infection is the reduction or absence of lactobacilli in the vaginal flora. Yogurt is full of lactobacilli, hence the logic in its use," explains Dr Mridula.
Then of course, there is osteoporosis, especially in women. Studies have shown that most people consume far less calcium than the recommended daily levels, which could cause osteoporosis. While there are many calcium supplements that are not readily or effectively absorbed, yogurt provides an excellent source of easily absorbed calcium.
That's not all. Daily consumption of yogurt also helps improve complexion, making it more radiant.
A word of caution, though. The fruited varieties of yogurt are high in calories, even though it has a low-fat profile. "The jams and fruit concoctions added for flavour can dump in as much as seven teaspoons of sugar per cup and more than double the calories. So go easy on these, particularly when calories are a concern," says Dr Shikha. If you want a fruit flavour but do not want to lose out on calcium or gain calories, mix chopped fruit with yogurt. You'll get all the calcium, and also the extra vitamins and fibre from the fruit.
However, to be effective, yogurt must contain sufficient amount of`live' lactic cultures, meaning it must be `fresh'.
Make it at home, is Dr Shikha's advice. Or, when buying it, look for packing as close to the date of manufacture as possible to get maximum beneficial bacteria. She adds, "Always keep it cold, as the helpful bacteria in yogurt cannot withstand high temperatures."
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