Our body needs to have a healthy amount of ''good'' bacteria in the digestive tract, and many yogurts are made using active, good bacteria. Probiotic bacteria are living organisms often found in fermented cultures such as yoghurt: they provide health benefits beyond basic nutrition, help us digest our food, kill harmful microorganisms and keep us functioning properly in a number of ways when eaten in adequate amounts. They're often referred to as "friendly," or good, bacteria. Check the label to make sure your yoghurt has Probiotics and active cultures. Most brands will have a graphic that says ''live and active cultures.''
There are many health benefits of Yoghurt, some of which are;
Yoghurt may help treat depression:
Research into the links between diet and depression is ongoing. As yet, there is not enough evidence to say for certain that some foods help relieve symptoms of depression, however a study was carried out on mice by researchers from St Joseph’s Healthcare and McMaster University, Canada and University College Cork, Ireland.
This study looked at the effects of feeding mice a type of “probiotic” bacteria called Lactobacillus rhamnosus.
This study showed that the mice that were fed the probiotic bacteria had lower levels of a stress-related hormone called corticosterone and less anxiety and depression-like behaviour compared to the mice that weren’t.
In the case of humans, further testing is needed before yoghurts could be considered as a potential treatment for anxiety or depression. Please see your GP for advice if you think you may be suffering from depression.
Yogurt may Reduce Vaginal Infections
In a small study, seven diabetic women with chronic Candidal vaginitis (Candida or "yeast" vaginal infections are a common problem for women with diabetes.) consumed 6 ounces of frozen aspartame-sweetened yoghurt per day.
The result showed that, even though most of the women had poor blood sugar control throughout the study, the vaginal pH (measure of acidity or basicity) of the group eating yoghurt with active cultures dropped from 6.0 to 4.0 (normal pH is 4.0-4.5).
These women also reported a decrease in Candida infections. The women eating the yoghurt without active cultures remained at pH 6.0.
Yogurt May Reduce the Risk of High Blood Pressure
A study involving 5,000 Spanish university graduates, found a link between dairy intake and the risk of high blood pressure.
Alvaro Alonso, MD, PhD, a researcher in the department of epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, said in an email interview that, ''We observed a 50% reduction in the risk of developing high blood pressure among people eating 2-3 servings of low-fat dairy a day (or more), compared with those without any intake,''
Milk was consumed mostly by the study subjects, but Alvaro believes low-fat yogurt would likely have the same effect.
Yogurt May Help Prevent Osteoporosis
Many yoghurts are made with added Vitamin D which helps with the absorption of calcium from the intestines. A lack of vitamin D causes calcium-depleted bone (osteomalacia), which further weakens the bones and increases the risk of fractures.
Also, Vitamin D, along with adequate calcium (1200 mg of elemental calcium), has been shown in some studies to increase bone density and decrease fractures in older postmenopausal, but not in premenopausal or perimenopausal women.
Jeri Nieves, PhD, MS, director of bone density testing at New York’s Helen Hayes Hospital, says that ''The combination of calcium and vitamin D has a clear skeletal benefit, provided the dose of vitamin D is sufficiently high, (400 IU per day is considered an adequate intake of vitamin D for people ages 51-70, Nieves says. (Look for the Daily Value amount listed on food labels.) But more may be better.)''
Yoghurt may help the Gut
Researchers from the Jean Mayer U.S. Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University concluded in a recent review article that, Yogurt with active cultures may help certain gastrointestinal conditions, including: Lactose intolerance, Constipation, Diarrhea, Colon cancer, Inflammatory bowel disease, and H. pylori infection.
In conclusion, probiotic yoghurts has good bacteria that helps the stomach & digestion, helps the gut, may prevent osteoporosis, may help to reduce the risk of high blood pressure, vaginal infection and depression. R
Researched and Written By Elizabeth O. Animashaun
Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, The Benefits of Yogurt, ‘What's tasty, easy, and has lots of health benefits? Yogurt!’, Http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/benefits-of-yogurt
Links to the science
Bravo JA, Forsythe P, Chew MV et al. Ingestion of Lactobacillus strain regulates emotional behavior and central GABA receptor expression in a mouse via the vagus nerve. PNAS, 2011; published ahead of print August 29, 2011
NHS CHOICES, ‘Healthy Eating and Depression’, Http://www.nhs.uk/livewell/depression/Pages/Depressionhealthyeating.aspx