Yogurt and Its Many Health Benefits
Yogurt or soured milk has been with humans since the beginning of agricultural development. For thousand of years people have domesticated cattle and sheep for their meat and hides. Souring milk was a natural way of prolonging the life of the milk they obtained daily. Sour milk was them turned into soft cheese for immediate use or hard cheese for storage through the winter and leaner times.
Soured food can be seen in most world cuisines. Cultured milk products in some form are found in most parts of the globe, followed by products like sauerkraut and miso. Soured foods are considered beneficial for better digestion and assimilation of foods and prevention of illness.
Yogurt is a complete protein made of fresh milk and curdled by bacteria and it is on par with meat and eggs. Long considered a staple in our nutritional food chain this pre-digested protein contains high amounts of vitamin A, B and D. Yogurt contains twenty-two amino acids like all proteins. These proteins are broken down in our intestines by enzymes, and yogurt, being a pre-digested food, is an easy protein to absorb and assimilate for immediate utilization by the body.
Since yogurt is pre-digested it is tolerated by most individuals even sick or ailing. It is most beneficial when used during the ingestion of antibiotics as yogurt stabilizes the destruction of friendly bacteria in the gut (Lactobacillus Acidophilus, for example). Even individuals whose digestive system cannot tolerate food or milk products (lactose intolerance) are often able to absorb cultured dairy products with little or no abdominal symptoms.
Yogurt has many health benefits, the two main ones being a) colon health and b) the proper functioning of the immune system.
a) Ingesting the acidophilus in yogurt helps repopulate the colon flora. Healthy colon flora provides a foundation for a healthy body and mind. Yogurt balances the PH levels in the stomach, providing better digestion and faster absorption of nutrients into the bloodstream. It also helps eliminate harmful toxins through the colon. Acidophilus bacteria also protects the lining of the stomach and intestines by coating the surfaces and preventing the formation of ulcers.
b) With balanced digestion the immune system is able to effectively respond to bacteria and other invaders in the body. Whenever acidophilus or friendly bacteria is present the body has a better chance of protecting itself from pathogens, intestinal and external toxins.
Over the last 20 years I have tried many different ways to make fresh batches of yogurt, the following recipe seems to be the best and easiest I have found to stays fresh and sweet from the first to the last container. I feel that the secret to this excellent yogurt is the addition of a fermented milk product called Bio-K Plus R, available at most good health food stores.
If making your own yogurt is not an option, here are a few pointers:
– Always buy yogurt that has live bacteria, Lactobacillus Acidophilus or Bifidobacterium Bifidum stated on the container. Some products just state that their yogurt has “Live” or “Active Bacteria”.
– The container should have no sugar, honey or fruit added.
– Live yogurt can be eaten with fruit or even honey, but this must be added after the fermentation process is completed and preferably just before ingestion. With yogurt, use honey very sparingly.
– Always look for best-before date. It must be at least seven to ten days before expiry.
– Yogurt, being a live/active product, must be kept cold, as heat destroys the live beneficial bacteria.
How to make your own great-tasting yogurt
Things you will need:
– One quart of milk (for superior results use organic 2% milk);
– Yogurt maker, or glass/Pyrex containers available at department store;
– Yogurt starter or live organic small yogurt (single serving container of plain white yogurt with no sugar or fruit);
Bio-K Original R, obtained at health food store.
1. Bring the organic milk to a simmer. Do not boil the milk, merely scald it.
2. When small bubbles start surfacing remove from heat.
3. Cool the milk to room temperature. This may take several hours.
4. Place the yogurt starter or live organic yogurt container, the Bio-K Original and mix into the cooled milk. (I use a hand mixer on very low setting)
5. Place the mixture into the yogurt maker and have it plugged in for 24 hours (for best results). After the 24 hours, remove from the yogurt maker and place in the refrigerator for cooling.
Or; the glass/Pyrex containers can be placed in the oven. The oven must be preheated to 100F/38C. Then switch the oven off. To keep this temperature constant keep the oven light on and the door closed for 24 hours.
6. After 24 hours remove from the oven and place the yogurt containers in the refrigerator to cool.
7. Save some of the new made yogurt as a starter for the next batch. You will never need to buy another yogurt again.
TIP: The addition of BIO-K makes the yogurt thicker, sweeter and with more live bacteria. For this reason I add the BIO- K to every batch I make.
To your good health!
Disclaimer: At no time do I intend to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you are having health issues contact your physician.