Yogurt is a popular food in different cultures in spite of vegan controversies raised about it.
Fortunately, though, this controversy only pertains to commercially produced cow milk and milk products. As one of the oldest foods known to man, yogurt is a product of pure milk.
Indeed, “We give you to drink of what is in their bellies … pure milk, easy and agreeable to swallow for those who drink” (Surat An-Nahl: 16:66).
Moreover, some sources say that Prophet Mohammad (saw) fed his followers with yogurt when they became ill (Eltean, p.2.). For centuries, yogurt has been popular for traditional reasons. Yet, science is finding out that this tradition has many health benefits as well.
The benefits of it are in the digestive tract, where friendly bacteria can aid digestion and clean the intestines.
In the Balkans, they testify as to the medicinal effects of yogurt, believing it to have therapeutic qualities as well as providing a strong constitution (Roden, p.21).
During the early 1900s, Dr. Ilya Metchnikoff proposed using fermented milk and asked manufacturers to use the beneficial bacteria in producing it.
Furthermore, she stated that yogurt’s bacteria prevents other bacteria in the intestines from forming harmful toxins.
Further investigation revealed that undigested and unabsorbed carbohydrates in the small intestines produced three effects:
- Carbon dioxide, hydrogen, and methane gas as well as alcohol.
- Microbial by-products like lactic acid.
- Energy for microbial growth damages the small intestines. As a result, carbohydrate malabsorption occurs and bacteria overgrow. Moreover, water drawn into the intestines increase metabolic by-products and cause chronic diarrhea (Gotschall, p.15 -18).
One of the first digestive enzymes to suffer damage is lactase. Most African-Americans, Latinos, Asians and Southern Europeans lack the ability to digest lactose, a milk sugar (Rangwani, p.1).
Deficiencies in the enzyme lactase include celiac disease, malnutrition, cholera, gastroenteritis, infant diarrhea, irritable colon, soy protein, and cow’s milk intolerance, a parasitic infection of the intestines, cystic fibrosis, Crohn’s Disease, and ulcerative colitis.
Former Chairman of Pediatrics at John Hopkins University Frank Osko blames a multitude of other health problems on hormone-riddled commercial milk containing lactase (Rangwani, p.1).
Unfortunately, most milk products contain lactase. This includes both liquid and dried milk, in addition to commercial yogurt, fermented homemade yogurt, processed cheese, cream cheese, ice cream, some sour creams, whey and even in some vitamins (Gotschall, p.25). However, fully fermented live yogurt doesn’t contain Lactase.
The standards set by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) for yogurt state that it must have undergone lactic acid fermentation through the action of the friendly bacterias lactobacillus bulgaris, and streptococcus thermophilus, which comes from milk.
The real yogurt culture, lactobacillus, and streptococcus, should ferment the real ‘live’ yogurt, which must be alive at the time of consumption (Eltean, p.1).
Researchers at the Pediatric and Adolescent Gastroenterology of the Women’s and Children Hospital in Adelaide, Australia have found that yogurts and other fermented drinks contain more than one type of bacteria from the lactobacillus family, which promote digestion.
This is very important in breakfast. Additionally, researchers have found that fermented milk plays a large role in the prevention and management of serious gastrointestinal conditions including inflammatory bowel disease.
A urine test was used to check the permeability of the intestines and a breath test to measure the metabolic activity of bacteria in the intestines.
Healthy adults were given yogurt for two days using the urine test. They found that the intestines had become less permeable. Diarrhea is a result of excess permeability (Reuters p.1, 2).
Microbiologists at the University of Ontario found that a strain of lactobacillus not identical to that in live yogurt and checked the spread of the dangerous bacterium, staphylococcus aureus.
The laboratory research involved rats. All were given Staphylococcus aureus through implantation under the skin. Half were given lactobacillus. Also, those that didn’t receive lactobacillus developed sores filled with pus whilst those that did had clean healthy wounds.
It is still unknown as to why this occurs, but it has shown that friendly bacteria in yogurt can slow down staphylococcus instead of destroying it with antibiotics, which causes the strain to become resistant to treatment like those found in British general hospitals.
This would benefit patients with weakened immune systems due to illness or surgery whereby antibiotic treatment would endanger their lives (BBC, 1,2).
These friendly bacteria become an intrinsic part of real live yogurt, when homemade and fermented for no less than 24 hours. The bacteria contain a non-complex single-sugar (monosaccharides), which requires no further splitting to be transported from the intestines to the bloodstream (Gotschall, p.3, 27, 44).
As a custom, many Muslim countries have enjoyed homemade live yogurt as a condiment, often adding salt, mint, and garlic. It’s enjoyed with a variety of vegetables and meat.
Naturally, sweet yogurt (curd) is more nutritious than ghee or milk, so the wisest decision if one has a limited choice of alternatives to commercially produced yogurts is to cherish the benefits of making yogurt at home.
This article is from our archive, originally published on an earlier date, and now republished for its importance.
- BBC. “Yogurt Bacteria ‘Fights’ Superbugs.” Health: BBC. 12/08/01.
- Eltean.com. “Yogurt.” Eltean.com. 12/06/01.
- Gottschall, Elaine. “Breaking the Vicious Cycle.” Canada: Kirkton Press. 1998.
- Rangwani, Shanti. “White Poison: The Horrors of Milk.” AlterNet.org. 12/08/01.
- Reuters. “Yogurt, Fermented Drinks Good for Bowel Disease.” Oxygen.com. 10/04/01.
- Roden, Claudia. “Middle Eastern Food.” Britain: Penguin Books. 1985.