Yogourt, Healthy Benefits

After writing my post about yogourt the other day, I happened to find this article at Ask Dr. Sears (yes, those well-known pediatricians that wrote all the books and that have been on TV).

10 Reasons Yogurt is a Top Health Food

There were some interesting points that caught my eye.

One thing I didn’t mention in my post yesterday, is that as much as I love yogourt, I also try to make sure I eat it to get calcium because I don’t drink milk.

When I was about 20 years old, I started having problems drinking milk. I would start feeling quite sick to my stomach after having a glass. I went to see my doctor, and he said I was most likely lactose intolerant. He didn’t do any tests. He also never really gave any explanation as to why I had developed it. He just suggested I try cutting it out of my diet for a while, then maybe try using Lactaid pills and/or a lactose free “milk” substitute. I tried the “milk” and decided it was not to my liking. I recall it being thick, almost syrupy, and kind of sweet. I bought the pills too, and I kept forgetting them in the medicine cabinet. I think you had to take them 30 minutes before you consumed dairy, and I was just never that organized to plan ahead when I was going to eat or drink dairy. To be completely honest, I don’t know if I ever ended up trying them at all.

I think lactose intolerance is a lot more common now, or at least people are familiar with it. At the time though, I had never heard of it, and did not know anyone else with the problem. Seeing as this was about 25 years ago, there was very little information available, and of course there certainly was no internet.

Through trial and error, I was able to determine what I could tolerate. I started buying skim milk, which I could eat in cereal and cooked dishes. I could eat yogourt and ice cream, if I also drank a nice big glass of water along with it (I guess it helped dilute it). Over the years, it bothered me less and less. I had a few bad side-effects from eating yogourt and ice cream in Chicago and Vermont (I used to travel all over for work). I never really figured that out, but chalked it up to perhaps different processing or pasteurization methods. That’s a total guess, so I’m not sure if that’s even a possibility. I just made sure to avoid eating/drinking the same thing again while there.

Now, I can eat yogourt and ice cream, and have no problems with either 1% or 2% milk in my cereal. To this day though, I still can’t stomach the thought of actually drinking a glass of milk. Chances are though, it would probably be okay.

Back to the article I mentioned above… The items that most caught my interest was the topic about intestinal infections and antibiotics. Apparently, intestinal infections can injure the lining of the intestines (especially the cells that produce lactase ), which can lead to temporary problems with lactose malabsorption. Hmmm… I remember having a nasty intestinal flu when I was in college (not too long before I started having symptoms).

The next thing that is mentioned, is antibiotics. Not only do they kill harmful bacteria, but they also kill the healthy ones in your intestines.

During my late teens, I worked in a nursery school for two years. As much fun as working with the kids was, I sadly became a human germ sponge. I seemed to catch everything the kids brought to us; eye infections, stomach bugs, flus, colds and most often strep throat. I was in to see my doctor at least once a month, and it got to the point where as soon as he’d see me, he’d ask “Strep again?”. I took so much penicillin, that I guess I eventually built up a tolerance for it, and they had to keep giving me stronger doses. At one point, I ended up with bronchitis. My regular doctor was away, so the doctor I saw prescribed a lower dosage than I usually took, and after about a week, it was not clearing up. I actually ended up with pneumonia. Thankfully I went back to the doctor quickly enough and did not have to go to the hospital or anything, but I was quite sick and had to stay in bed for over a week.

My “lovely” (not) boss chose this time to lay me off – because I was sick too often. In the end, she did me a favour because I ended up going back to school not long after. For years after, I was prone to strep but I am glad to say it’s been a very long time since I’ve had it again. In fact, I haven’t taken any antibiotics in at least 10 years.

In any case, I found it quite interesting that the article recommends eating a daily dose of yogourt while taking antibitioics, as well as for two weeks following. It says: “The live bacterial cultures in yogurt can help replenish the intestines with helpful bacteria before the harmful ones take over.”.

I know my doctor never made that suggestion to me, and in all honesty I doubt I was eating that much yogourt back then. I really can’t help but wonder if all those antibiotics were part of the reason I became lactose intolerant. I like to think that not taking any all these years has helped – even if I don’t always get my daily dose of yogourt….

Do you try to eat yogourt every day? Have you noticed any health benefits?

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