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What you need to know about yoghurt right now

by , 23 February 2016

Flip through any health magazine or scroll any wellness blog and you're bound to be advised to eat lots of yoghurt. Often touted as one of the top foods to eat, especially for women, yoghurt contains probiotics, calcium and protein, which have been correlated with better gastrointestinal health, improved bone density and even weight loss.

However, if you read vegan blogs, such as the magnetic KrisCarr.com, you'll read that dairy is the devil of all foods, contributing to mucus, bone loss and potentially cancer.

So what's the truth? Should you be eating it or ditching it? Here's everything you need to know about yoghurt.

The truth about yoghurt

The pros:
Yoghurt is loaded with probiotics
Yoghurt does contain probiotics, but if the yoghurt is homogenised (almost all dairy in South Africa is), most of the beneficial bacteria are killed off by the heat treatment. Those that survive need to make it past the stomach acid to take up residence in the large intestine. Even Mr. Jason Bourne is unlikely to survive heat and acid! If your primary reason for eating yoghurt is for its probiotic content, take a good quality five-strain probiotic instead. Select one that has been encapsulated to resist stomach acid.
Yoghurt contains calcium
Yoghurt does contain calcium, but calcium alone will not improve bone density. Vitamin D and magnesium are both essential for the utilisation of calcium by the bone matrix. Yoghurt contains scant amounts of both. If you're worried about bone health, eat a kale salad with almonds;  it contains the ideal ratio of calcium to magnesium for optimal bone density.
Yoghurt is packed with protein
A one-cup serving of Greek yoghurt contains 12 g of protein. This is equivalent to two eggs and roughly half a one-cup serving of fish. Yoghurt trumps on the protein front, but it's a bit of a taker; it gives nothing more. Two eggs provide the same protein content, but also choline for enhanced brain function and conjugated linoleic acid for abdominal fat burning. I prefer the flat abs and smarter brain option.
The cons:
Yoghurt is mucus-forming
Yoghurt (and dairy) can be mucus-forming, particularly in individuals who have a sensitivity to dairy or are lactose intolerant. Approximately 60% of the people on whom I run food sensitivity tests have a dairy sensitivity, which means they are reacting to a protein molecule in milk. Take them off yoghurt and milk and their chronic sinusitis and congestion (i.e. mucus) goes away (as does their IBS, headaches and bloating).
Yoghurt causes bone loss
Dairy produces an acidic residue in the body when digested. If the acidity is not buffered with magnesium, calcium, potassium and other bicarbonates, it can strip these nutrients from the bone so that the blood pH remains consistent. One container of yoghurt on a daily basis is unlikely to cause bone loss. However, combine the yoghurt with granola, cereal, or jam and you'll magnify its acidic effect. Sugar and grains are very acid-forming.

Forgo your greens and you'll exponentially increase the risk of bonecatabolism as your green vegetables supply the buffering nutrient, magnesium. If you must have yoghurt (for example, you're at the airport and nothing else is available), avoid the parfait with granola and make sure your next meal contains green vegetables.
Yoghurt is cancer-forming
Dairy contains a hormone called insulin-like growth factor (IGF-I). High levels of IGF-1 have been linked to cancer cell proliferation. Dr Colin Campbell, Ph.D, in his book The China Study eloquently demonstrates this connection. However, he also says that a small amount of dairy does not show a cancer correlation. So fear not, dipping your turmeric cauliflower in a yoghurt sauce is unlikely to result in cancer promotion.

The bottom line about eating yoghurt

Eating organic yoghurt once per week won't induce adverse health reactions, unless you have a dairy sensitivity or are lactose intolerant. Skip the daily consumption or better still, skip it altogether. There are far superior food choices that provide more nutritional punch. While yoghurt is a convenient snack, so too is an apple, and where there's a yoghurt for sale, there's an apple!

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