Yogurt is not just a delicious snack with fruits on the bottom, it has great health benefits. It is an excellent source of protein, calcium, riboflavin and vitamin B 12. When yogurt is compared to milk, yogurt contains more calcium and protein because of the added cultures in the yogurt. Yogurt must contain active and living cultures to be yogurt. Cultures are composed of unique living microorganisms which are responsible for many of the health and nutritional benefits of yogurt. Some of the health benefits of yogurt are It improves natural defense, it contains a good amount of phosphorus and 88% water. People with a risk of osteoporosis should eat at least one serving of yogurt per day. It has also been claimed that yogurt may protect against some types of cancer but more investigations have to be carried out. Some people have trouble digesting lactose, a carbohydrate in milk and milk products, because of the deficiency of enzyme lactase in the body. Live yogurt cultures produce lactase and break down the lactose. Yogurt is a healthy way to get the calcium the body needs, for the people who can not tolerate milk products. Other benefits of live and active cultures in the yogurt are, they may help to boost the immune system. They encourage the right kind of bacteria to multiply in the gut. These bacteria help to digest food and prevent stomach infections. Also, they help to provide relief from vaginal infections.
Yogurt was a long-established staple in Eastern Europe and the Middle East before it reached our shores.
Yogurt may not be the miracle food some have claimed, but it certainly has a lot to offer in the health department. Besides being an excellent source of bone-building calcium, it is believed that the bacterial cultures Lactobacillus bulgaricus (L. bulgaricus) and Streptococcus thermophilus (S. thermophilus), that are used to make yogurt, carry their own health benefits.
For example, research has suggested that eating yogurt regularly helps boost the body’s immune-system function, warding off colds and possibly even helping to fend off cancer. It is also thought the friendly bacteria found in many types of yogurt can help prevent and even remedy diarrhea.
For people who suffer from lactose intolerance, yogurt is often well tolerated because live yogurt cultures produce lactase, making the lactose sugar in the yogurt easier to digest (see Lactose Intolerance for advice on coping with this condition). Be sure to check the label on the yogurt carton for the National Yogurt Association’s Live and Active Cultures (LAC) seal. This seal identifies products that contain a significant amount of live and active cultures
In 2002, a Joint FAO/WHO Working Group defined probiotics as “live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host”. In other words, probiotics are live bacteria that are beneficial to our health, when eaten an adequate amount. It is important for our large intestine to maintain a healthy count of these “good” bacteria – a concept first promoted by a Russian scientist in 1907!
Health Benefits of Probiotics
Studies found that probiotics may improve nutrient bioavailability, including B vitamins, calcium, iron, zinc, copper, magnesium and phosphorus.
Pediatric studies found that probiotics aids in a significantly decreasing the rate of acute diarrhea and rotavirus shedding. Parents also reported a 25% decrease in diaper rash among babies drinking formula containing probiotics.
Probiotics and active bacteria culture may improve lactose intolerance. The bacterial strain commonly used in yogurt can produce lactase enzymes. Therefore, people with lactose intolerance and children suffering from intestinal infection can usually tolerate yogurt with an active culture.
Many studies showed that by regulating intestinal transit time, probiotics improve constipation among the elderly.
Other studies showed that probiotics, especially acidophilus, promotes the growth of healthy bacteria in the colon and reduces the conversion of bile into carcinogens (cancer causing substances).
Quite a few studies found that probiotics may enhance immunity by regulating lymphocytes as well as antibodies
The benefits of consuming kefir regularly in the diet
Easily digested, it cleanses the intestines, provides beneficial bacteria and yeast, vitamins and minerals, and complete proteins. Because kefir is such a balanced and nourishing food, it contributes to a healthy immune system and has been used to help patients suffering from AIDS, chronic fatigue syndrome, herpes, and cancer. Its tranquilizing effect on the nervous system has benefited many who suffer from sleep disorders, depression, and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). The regular use of kefir can help relieve all intestinal disorders, promote bowel movement, reduce flatulence and create a healthier digestive system. In addition, its cleansing effect on the whole body helps to establish a balanced inner ecosystem for optimum health and longevity. Kefir can also help eliminate unhealthy food cravings by making the body more nourished and balanced. Its excellent nutritional content offers healing and health-maintenance benefits to people in every type of condition.
More than just beneficial bacteria!
In addition to beneficial bacteria and yeast, kefir contains minerals and essential amino acids that help the body with healing and maintenance functions. The complete proteins in kefir are partially digested and therefore more easily utilized by the body. Tryptophan, one of the essential amino acids abundant in kefir, is well known for its relaxing effect on the nervous system. Because kefir also offers an abundance of calcium and magnesium, which are also important minerals for a healthy nervous system, kefir in the diet can have a particularly profound calming effect on the nerves. Kefir’s ample supply of phosphorus, the second most abundant mineral in our bodies, helps utilize carbohydrates, fats, and proteins for cell growth, maintenance and energy. Kefir is rich in Vitamin B12, B1, and Vitamin K. It is an excellent source of biotin, a B Vitamin which aids the body’s assimilation of other B Vitamins, such as folic acid, pantothenic acid, and B12. The numerous benefits of maintaining adequate B vitamin intake range from regulation of the kidneys, liver and nervous system to helping relieve skin disorders, boost energy and promote longevity.
Both kefir and yogurt are cultured milk products…
…but they contain different types of beneficial bacteria. Yogurt contains transient beneficial bacteria that keep the digestive system clean and provide food for the friendly bacteria that reside there. But kefir can actually colonize the intestinal tract, a feat that yogurt cannot match. Kefir contains several major strains of friendly bacteria not commonly found in yogurt, Lactobacillus Caucasus, Leuconostoc, Acetobacter species, and Streptococcus species. It also contains beneficial yeasts, such as Saccharomyces kefir and Torula kefir, which dominate, control and eliminate destructive pathogenic yeasts in the body. They do so by penetrating the mucosal lining where unhealthy yeast and bacteria reside, forming a virtual SWAT team that housecleans and strengthens the intestines. Hence, the body becomes more efficient in resisting such pathogens as E. coli and intestinal parasites. Kefir’s active yeast and bacteria provide more nutritive value than yogurt by helping digest the foods that you eat and by keeping the colon environment clean and healthy. Because the curd size of kefir is smaller than yogurt, it is also easier to digest, which makes it a particularly excellent, nutritious food for babies, invalids and the elderly, as well as a remedy for digestive disorders.
How is Kefir Made?
Kefir can be made from any type of milk, cow, goat or sheep, coconut, rice. . Although it is slightly mucous forming, the mucous has a “clean” quality to it that creates ideal conditions in the digestive tract for the colonization of friendly bacteria. Kefir is made from gelatinous white or yellow particles called “grains.” This makes kefir unique, as no other milk culture forms grains. These grains contain the bacteria/yeast mixture clumped together with casein (milk proteins) and complex sugars. They look like pieces of coral or small clumps of cauliflower and range from the size of a grain of wheat to that of a hazelnut. Some of the grains have been known to grow in large flat sheets that can be big enough to cover your hand!. The grains ferment the milk, incorporating their friendly organisms to create the cultured product. The grains are then removed with a strainer before consumption of the kefir and added to a new batch of milk. Production of traditional kefir requires kefir grains which are a gelatinous community of bacteria and yeasts. Kefir grains contain a water soluble polysaccharide known as kefiran that imparts a rope-like texture and feeling in one’s mouth. Kefir grains cannot be produced from scratch, but the grains grow during fermentation, and additional grains are produced. Kefir grains can be purchased or acquired from other hobbyists, see below. Kefir grains appear white to yellow and are usually the size of a walnut, but may be as small as a grain of rice.
Production of traditional kefir requires kefir grains which are a gelatinous community of bacteria and yeasts. Kefir grains contain a water soluble polysaccharide known as kefiran that imparts a rope-like texture and feeling in one’s mouth. Kefir grains cannot be produced from scratch, but the grains grow during fermentation, and additional grains are produced. Kefir grains can be purchased or acquired from other hobbyists, see below. Kefir grains appear white to yellow and are usually the size of a walnut, but may be as small as a grain of rice.
The functioning of liver, gallbladder, circulation, heart activity, metabolism, oxygen supply to the cells, blood circulation to the brain improves and stabilizes. Also so-called senility does not occur or is even reversed and the elasticity of the blood vessels and joints is restored. Rheumatism and coronary thrombosis do not stand a chance if a special kefir diet is followed: between the ages of 25 and 30 at the latest 1-1/2 Tblsp. of kefir should be consumed twice a day. Numerous scientific tests are being performed to determine the effect of kefir especially in Eastern Europe. They thrive in dairy and use up the lactose and partially digest the proteins, making it a product that most people can ingest and will benefit from. Even people with milk sensitivities can usually drink kefir.
In addition to repopulating the digestive tract, enzyme stores are added to in the body. Many people in the US currently take digestive enzymes. They have been told they are not digesting their food properly, that their enzyme stores have run out, and they will have to take enzymes the rest of their life.Unfortunately, their health care providers have missed something that Sally Fallon and the Weston A. Price people along
with people like Donna Gates of Body Ecology have come to realize: that cultured foods will actually add back enzyme stores into the enzyme banks of the body and aid the body in digesting other foods.
Kefir, cultured cream, buttermilk, cultured vegetables, etc all add
predigested food full of vitamins and minerals, normal flora, and
enzymes to the body. We believe these are valuable foods, part of all
good traditional diets, that have become lost in the society of today.
And We believe bringing them back is essential for optimal health.
* Regulates the body’s immune system and improves resistance to diseases.
* Regulates the blood pressure, blood sugar and cures diabetes.
* Heals the lungs, bronchitis, tuberculosis, asthma, allergies and migraine.
* Has a positive influence on the heart and blood, heals circulatory
* Heals various eczema, all skin disorders and leads to cure of acne.
* Heals the kidneys, the urinary tract and protects prostate.
* Has a positive influence on cholesterol, osteoporosis and rheumatism.
* Supports enzymes production and heals the pancreas.
* Improves the liver and gallbladder, regulates bile production,
influences positively hepatitis.
* Regulates metabolism, digestion and heals diseases of the colon.
* Heals colitis, diarrhea, catarrh, reflux, leaky gut syndrome,
candidasis and more.
* Rebalance the intestinal flora and stomach acid, heals duodenum and
* Produces its own antibiotics, eliminates unfriendly bacteria, cures
internal and external inflammations.
* Heals lactose intolerance and provides full digestibility of milk
* Produces own anti-cancer compounds, prevents metastasis, and leads to
* Slows the aging process, smoothes and improves skin, hair and muscle
* Reduces anxiety, depression, increases energy and feeling of wellbeing.
* Produces all necessary vitamins and beneficial bacteria needed for our
healthy daily life.
Almost century of scientific and medical research confirming the above
is available from Diary Research Institute in former USSR. With the
worldwide cost of medical care getting inflated by chronic diseases,
real kefir is gaining popularity not only for its health benefits, but
also for its effects in lowering medical cost. With increasing
resistance to antibiotics, intensive research of the real kefir is
conducted in Europe and Japan. The results are supporting the experience
Acidophilus Effects, Benefits and Other Information
From Rishma Walji, B.Sc., N.D.
What are probiotics?
The digestive tract maintains a balance between healthy and potentially harmful micro-organisms. Healthy micro-organisms, also called microflora, are residents of the digestive tract that have a protective role in our bodies. When we grow older, use prescription drugs such as antibiotics and corticosteroids, eat meat, travel, and have digestive disorders, the proportion of healthy microflora in our bodies declines and is less able to protect us from disease. In addition to its protective role, microflora helps to synthesize important vitamins, nutrients and enzymes, such as the lactase needed to digest lactose in milk and dairy products. It also allows for the removal of heavy metals and other harmful ingested substances in our food, such as from the metal lining of drink boxes and canned foods. Besides the digestive tract, microflora reside in other areas where mucous membranes are exposed to the environment, such as the skin, respiratory tract and genital-urinary tract. To put it into perspective, there are approximately 100,000 billion viable bacteria in the digestive tract and about 1,000 billion on the skin. The total number of cells in the body is approximately 10,000 billion, meaning that we have more bacteria in our body than we have cells! In the large intestine, there are at least 400-500 species of bacteria. Probiotics, the supplement form of micro-organisms, have been used for many years to increase the proportion of protective microflora and to prevent and treat many health conditions. The most familiar form of probiotics is yogurt. Two strains of healthy bacteria, Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria, are found in yogurt, cheese, and other fermented foods. Daily intake of foods containing these bacteria have been suggested to provide health benefits including improved digestion and alleviation of constipation, increased absorption of dietary minerals, reduced blood cholesterol levels and enhanced protection from tumors. Many strains of bacteria have been used in probiotic supplements. The most common strains are Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei, Bifidobacterium bifidum, Bifidobacterium longum and the yeast Saccharomyces boulardii. Of the beneficial strains, the Lactobacillus species is most prominent in the small intestine, whereas Bifidobacteria tends to reside in the large intestine. Vegetarians tend to have a healthier balance of “good bacteria” to “bad bacteria” as compared to non-vegetarians who tend to have larger numbers of undesirable bacteria such as Bacteroides.
How do probiotic supplements work in the digestive system?
Beneficial strains such as Lactobacillus species and Bifiobacteria species prevent the harmful strains such as E.coli and Bacteroides from growing to a population where they can cause disease. They do this by producing organic acid and hydrogen peroxide, by spatial exclusion, which means they crowd out other bacteria, by substrate competition, when they compete with harmful bacteria for nutrients needed for growth, and by bacteriocin production, which is the production of compounds that have a lethal effect on harmful bacteria.
Probiotics can be used in situations where the intestinal microflora balance has been disturbed and related digestive tract dysfunction occurs. Besides improving digestion and preventing gas, bloating, and bad breath, probiotics are beneficial in many other situations: Antibiotic Use – While antibiotics are very often effective at killing the offending bacteria they were prescribed to kill, antibiotics also kill many strains of protective bacteria. People taking antibiotics become more susceptible to colonization and infection by harmful gut bacteria, causing antibiotic-associated diarrhea. Probiotics can be used to replenish these protective bacteria and reduce the incidence of abdominal cramps and diarrhea. They have also been found to be effective for children in this situation6. Probiotics in combination with and following antibiotic therapy can facilitate regrowth of a healthy microbial population. Immune System – Bifidobacterium has been shown to enhance the function of the immune system. Natural cellular immune functions are known to decline as we age, leaving great potential for immune enhancement. Research shows that supplementing Bifidobacterium Lacis enhances the production of immune system cells known to be active against viral infections.
Acidophilus Effects, Benefits and Other Information
Irritable Bowel Syndrome – Lactobacillus plantarum, a bacteria with known probiotic properties has been found to decrease pain and flatulence in patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. This is possibly related to the fact that colonic gas production is found to be higher in IBS patients. The reduction may be related to an alteration in the activity of hydrogen-producing gut bacteria. Other conditions – Probiotics have also been researched in other areas of health and have been found to be beneficial in improving lactose digestion, the prevention of diarrheal diseases, improving hypersensitivity in infants with food allergies, and many other health conditions.
What to look for in a probiotic supplement
The most common strains of probiotics are Lactobacillus acidophilus for the small intestine and Bifidobacterium bifidum for the large intestine. Probiotics should always be refrigerated before and after opening. Storage temperature should be below 3-4 degrees C. FOS (fructo-oligosaccharides) is often added to promote the growth of selected strains of bacteria. Synthesized naturally from sucrose, it is not digested by the small intestine but is fermented in the colon. A linear relationship has been found between the amount of FOS consumed and the count of bifidobacteria in the intestine. The optimal and well-tolerated dose of FOS has been found to be 2000-3000mg per day . While excess FOS could cause excess gas, abdominal cramps, and bloating, many probiotics have only small amounts of FOS in the range of 200mg. Each capsule or dose should contain more than 1 billion viable bacteria. The minimum therapeutic dose is suggested to be 108-109 cells per day. More bacteria per capsule or dose is preferable, since the bacteria must survive during shelf life and then after ingestion, during transit through the acidic conditions of the stomach and hydrolytic enzymes and bile salts in the small intestine. Bifidobacteria is anaerobic, meaning that it lives and grows in the absence of oxygen. One study found that bifidobacteria could survive and multiply better in glass bottles than plastic containers, probably because oxygen cannot permeate glass bottles easily. For this reason, also look for opaque containers. Look for products that have vitamin C (ascorbic acid), whey protein, or cysteine added. Vitamin C acts as an oxygen-scavenging agent and can improve the survival and multiplication of bacteria such as Lactobacillus. Studies have found that whey protein and the amino acid cysteine also improve the viability of bacteria. When selecting a probiotic, it is necessary to consider the intended use of the probiotic, its source, its site of isolation and characteristics of the strain. It is wise to consult a health care provider such as a qualified nutritionist or a naturopathic doctor who can evaluate the options and recommend the most appropriate probiotic supplement.