YOGHURT, which dates its origin to thousands of years ago, is a food we have long been told is healthy. In fact, some people who cannot stand milk because of its smell, taste or protein allergy, take yoghurt for health reasons.
The bacterial enzymes that are introduced during the culturing process make yoghurt more digestible than milk, the reason it is recommended for people who have difficulty digesting lactose (sugar) in milk. Yoghurt contains lactase, an enzyme which breaks down lactose for proper digestion.
â€œIn paediatrics we have observed that children who cannot take milk often eat yoghurt and do not experience intestinal upset.â€ Phillip Kabagye, a nutritionist at Mulago Hospital, says. Though the amount of lactose varies among brands, generally yoghurt has less lactose than milk, he adds.
The synthetic folic acid in yoghurt is extremely beneficial to pregnant and nursing women since it is absorbed at twice the rate of the other acids added in foods.
According to Dr. Innocent Mugume of Bushenyi Medical Centre, yoghurt is good for nursing mothers because it helps in the production of breast milk, increasing the levels of folic acid.
And that is not all; yoghurt is rich in calcium which fosters colon health, lowering risks of colon cancer. The bacteria in yoghurt is intestinal friendly and helps neutralise harmful substances like the salts in nitric acid, before they turn into carcinogens (substances that produce cancer).
The excess cells that line the lower part of the large intestines place a person at high risk of developing colon cancer, but with a diet high in calcium, the risks are reduced.
According to Kabagye, yoghurt acts as a remedy for stomach ulcers because it prevents the digestion of colon wall acids. The calcium content also makes yoghurt a good option in the prevention of osteoporosis (brittle bones).
Mugume further explains that the live and active cultures in yoghurt highly intercept vaginal yeast infections. â€œNormally, the vaginal wall is supposed to be acidic, so yoghurt enhances acidic levels that keep bacteria on the walls alive, preventing yeast infectionsâ€.
However, Kabagye says some brands of yoghurt are heat-treated to increase their shelf life but this only kills the healthy bacteria. Some preservatives also have adverse effects on the consumer.
Lactose intolerant, stomach ulcers? Yoghurt will do the trick