Health Benefits of Yoghurt for Adults and Children

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Health Benefits of Yoghurt for Adults and Children

When discussing the health benefits of yoghurt, it is important to keep in mind that yoghurt is derived from milk. You immediately, therefore, receive the benefits of milk itself, such as the calcium content, and the minerals potassium and magnesium, all of which are important for building healthy bones and teeth.

You also get a good dose of protein, around 9 grams (0.32 oz) every 170 gram (6 oz) serving, or 5.2% protein. Then there are the vitamins, particularly vitamins B2 and B12.  Vitamin B12 is of particular benefit to vegetarians because there are very few vegetarian sources of this important vitamin.

Not only that, but most people are aware that yoghurt is rich in what are referred to as ‘probiotics.’ These are live strains of friendly bacteria that normally live in your gut, and you will help maintain these colonies by taking yoghurt regularly. These tiny species may not do much individually, but as large colonies of billions they can offer a wide variety of health benefits.

However, what we have to consider here are the health benefits of yoghurt in addition to those you already enjoy from your existing probiotic colonies.

1.  Colon Health

Yoghurt contains the bacterial strains Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. Lactobacteria helps to maintain a healthy colon, and not only helps to promote the growth of a healthy bacterial colony in your colon, but the calcium it contains reduces the conversion of bile into acids that may be potentially carcinogenic, and it also neutralizes potentially carcinogenic heterocyclic amines in cooked meat [1].

In addition, the calcium contained in yoghurt reduces the likelihood of you contracting colon cancer by restricting the growth of cells on the colon lining. Those that have a high intake of milk and milk products tend to have lower rates of colorectal cancer, largely because of the high levels of calcium in their diet.

2.  Yoghurt Boosts Immunity

One of the important health benefits of yoghurt is that it gives a boost to your immune system. Although antibiotics are effective in killing off bacteria, they are not very selective, and oral antibiotics will also kill off the beneficial bacteria in your gut. These bacteria are an important part of the human immune system, and yoghurt can give it a boost if taken shortly after a course of antibiotics.

There are other ways in which your immune system is supported by yoghurt: after studying a group of 68 people who consumed two cups of live yoghurt daily, researchers discovered that the subjects had enhanced interferon levels. Fermented milk has also been shown to increase the effectiveness of white cells in fighting infection.

3. Antibiotic-Related Diarrhea

Antibiotics can also lead to diarrhea for much the same reason: when the probiotics that prevent the establishment of dangerous bacteria in the gut are killed off by antibiotics, the adverse bacteria will rapidly take their place leading to diarrhea. By taking yoghurt you can renew your colonies and cure your diarrhea [2].

4.  Intestinal Infections in Children

Certain cells in the intestines produce lactase, an enzyme responsible for digesting lactose, the sugar found in milk. Once children have suffered from an intestinal problem, they are often unable to tolerate lactose, and hence milk. This condition can be serious, but live yoghurt has been found to be better tolerated since it contains more lactase than lactose. This is one reason for it being such as good, nutritious food after diarrhea.

After such infections, children are frequently recommended by their doctors to take yoghurt. They recover faster, and it is also a good remedy for childhood indigestion. When your children are on antibiotics, also give them one or two tubs each day to help prevent a reduction in their intestinal bacterial colonies. This is one of the more important health benefits it offers to your children.

5.  Cholesterol Reduction

An analysis of series of double blind tests, where neither the subjects nor those carrying out the tests knew who were getting the placebo, disclosed that there was a decrease of from around 4% in total cholesterol and 5% in serum LDL cholesterol levels after taking yoghurt [3].  The various trials were run from between two to eight weeks. Although not definitive, this does indicate that probiotics have some effect on cholesterol levels.

6.  Lactobacillus, Inflammation and IBS

It is believe that certain strains of lactobacillus can at least in part regulate the function of cytokines in the body’s inflammatory response [4]. Practical advantages of this include the prevention of reoccurrence of the symptoms of inflammatory bowel syndrome or disease, and also improving allergies to milk [5]. Probiotics do not help with all inflammatory conditions, an while their mechanism is uncertain, research is indicating an effect on the way T-lymphocytes respond to inflammatory signals.

These are the main health benefits of yoghurt for adults and children. There are others, such in its effect in helping to reduce colonies of vaginal yeast and its ease of digestion.  In fact, if your child finds it difficult to take milk, try him or her on yoghurt. It is much easier to digest and a lot healthier than formula milk – but not mother’s milk.

References:

1.  Wollowski I, Rechkemmer G, Pool-Zobel BL (February 2001). “Protective role of probiotics and prebiotics in colon cancer“. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 73 (2 Suppl): 451S–455S.

2.  Ripudaman S. Beniwal, et al., “A Randomized Trial of Yogurt for Prevention of Antibiotic-Associated Diarrhea“, Digestive Diseases and Sciences 48:10:2077-2082 (October, 2003)

3.  Agerholm-Larsen, L; Bell ML, Grunwald GK, Astrup A. (2002). “The effect of a probiotic milk product on plasma cholesterol: a meta-analysis of short term intervention studies“. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 54 (11): 856–860.

4.  Reid G, Jass J, Sebulsky MT, McCormick JK (October 2003). “Potential uses of probiotics in clinical practice“. Clin. Microbiol. Rev. 16 (4): 658–72.

5.  Kirjavainen PV, Salminen SJ, Isolauri E (February 2003). “Probiotic bacteria in the management of atopic disease: underscoring the importance of viability“. J. Pediatr. Gastroenterol. Nutr. 36 (2): 223–7

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