The Culture of Yogurt

Yogurt is nothing new on our radar—but recently, more and more buzz is happening around Greek yogurt. What’s the difference between regular yogurt and Greek yogurt—and how do they stack up in the longevity department? Read on to find out how this creamy snack supports healthy digestion, beautiful skin, a stronger immune system, and a longer life.

Why “Culture” Matters

Yogurt is a fermented dairy product that is created when milk and live active cultures—AKA probiotics—are combined. What’s in a name? The word probiotics literally means “for life.” These probiotics are “good bacteria,” meaning that when we ingest and cultivate these life-supportive bacteria in our gut, we’re using them to create a harmonious balance in our intestinal microflora, which facilitates digestion and promotes overall health.

It’s All Greek to Me

Both regular yogurt and Greek yogurt have beneficial qualities. Recently, Greek yogurt has been moving its way up in consumer popularity as a result of its delicious taste, thick and creamy texture, and nutrient-rich nature. So what makes Greek yogurt different? Greek yogurt is a regular yogurt that has been strained and condensed to separate it from most of its water and whey, a protein and lactose-rich liquid. By eating a more condensed yogurt, you’re actually ingesting more essential nutrients with the probiotic helpers because more milk is needed to make it. One cup of Greek yogurt will have more than twice as much protein than one cup of regular yogurt, and is generally lower in its natural sugar content, too.

Get Proactive About Probiotics

As mentioned before, yogurt is packed with probiotics, the good bacteria that helps promote healthy digestion. More good news: probiotic elements like lactobacillus and acidophilus-a (which can also be found in supplement form) help fight off fungal infections and vaginal yeast infections. Probiotics are also very helpful to take immediately following a course of doctor-prescribed antibiotics. Why? Antibiotics—literally meaning “against life”—will attack all of the bacteria in your system without differentiating between the beneficial ones and the harmful invaders that make us sick.

Learn more about probiotics and acidophilus in the Natural Health Dictionary!

Longevity Secrets Revealed

1. Immune Support: Studies have confirmed that a daily serving of yogurt rich in probiotics increases your body’s ability to protect you from infection. Probiotics are so helpful because they stimulate cellular immunity, your immune system’s first line of defense, which protects you from viruses, yeasts, parasites, and also helps prevent the development of cancer so you can live a long and healthy life.

2. Protection from Ulcers: The lactobacillus in yogurt hinders the growth and development of H. pylori, the microbe that causes up to 90% of stomach ulcers.

3. Super Skin: You might be surprised to find that yogurt can also help smooth out skin texture and tone, thanks to its lactic acid (alpha-hydroxy) content. If you have sensitive skin and cannot use commercial alpha-hydroxy acid preps, give yogurt a try. When applied externally, yogurt will gently exfoliate dead skin, while rejuvenating the layers of skin beneath. You can also lighten spots and perhaps even out your skin tone over time. Simply apply organic plain yogurt as you would a cream to your freshly washed face. Let this sit for 15 minutes before washing off with cold water. Apply a moisturizer to follow.

Yogurt Do’s and Don’ts

• Do eat yogurt regularly as a snack. It has been shown to fill you up and provide more sustained energy than liquid snacks with the same calorie value.

Do choose plain. Most yogurts that you can buy pre-blended with fruit are packed with sugar.

Do mix it up. If you’re bored with eating just plain yogurt, liven it up by adding fresh fruits, granola, and ground flax seed. Try yogurt in your salad dressings. Replace sour cream with yogurt. How about bringing some culture to your yogurt’s culture? Try this tasty, cooling dish that is regularly enjoyed throughout Asia and the Middle East: mix plain Greek yogurt with fresh dill weed and chopped cucumbers.

Do make your own. If you’re really ambitious, you can even try making your own yogurt! It’s a simple process and requires only basic kitchen tools.

• Don’t purchase yogurt that has added sugars or cornstarches, or that has been pasteurized. The pasteurization process kills the probiotics and reduces the health benefits of yogurt drastically. 

I hope that you will enjoy the multitude of cultural benefits from yogurt! Many of the terms that were defined in this article come from The Natural Health Dictionary. It is a comprehensive guide that answers all your questions about natural remedies, healing herbs, longevity foods, vitamins, and supplements. Also, you can find more ways to live a long and healthy life in Secrets of Longevity: Hundreds of Ways to Live to Be 100, which is now available on Kindle.

Follow me on Twitter to get insider tips and to ask your health questions.

May you live long, live strong, and live happy all year long!

—Dr. Mao

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