I’ve been inspired. My friend sent me a text the other day asking if I eat yogurt, and if so, which kind. She has been changing some things in her diet and was shocked to find out how much sugar is in yogurt. I have several half-written posts about yogurt and am finally going to put them all together into a couple of posts (so that I don’t overwhelm everyone). There will probably be more information than anyone cares to sift through, but bare with me, this is important! Yogurt and all other cultured/fermented dairy products are SO good for your body. For a review, let’s just take this straight from Nourishing Traditions, shall we? Sally Fallon says it better than I ever could:
“Fermentation breaks down casein, or milk protein, one of the most difficult proteins to digest. Culturing restores many of the enzymes destroyed during pasteurization including lactase, which helps digest latose or milk sugar, and numerous enzymes, which help the body absorb calcium and other minerals. Lactase produced during the culturing process allows many people who are sensitive to fresh milk to tolerate fermented milk products. Both vitamin B and vitamin C content of milk increase during fermentation.
“Research has shown that regular consumption of cultured dairy products lowers cholesterol and protects against bone loss. In addition, cultured dairy products provide beneficial bacteria and lactic acid to the digestive tract. These friendly creatures and their by-products keep pathogens at bay, guard against infectious illness and aid in the fullest possible digestion of all food we consume. Perhaps this is why so many traditional societies value fermented milk products for their healthy-promoting properties and insist on giving them to the sick, the aged, and nursing mothers.” (p. 81)
I have to admit, I haven’t always been a fan of yogurt – I had a taste aversion to it for a while after my first pregnancy (it’s not fun to throw it up). I can’t consume kefir unless it’s blended into my morning smoothie. I still can’t eat greek yogurt (unless replacing it for sour cream or blended into a smoothie). There is something about the texture of greek yogurt that I just can’t handle. It’s TOO thick. Ugh. However, I now LOVE yogurt and am getting my kefir every single day. From first hand experience I can tell you what consuming cultured dairy products has done for me.
I used to have yeast “issues.” It was probably deeper than I even realized, but it could get really bad. From the time I was a little girl I’ve had sporadic yeast infections. Not all the time, but randomly and enough to bug the heck out of a person. When I was pregnant with my first baby things got out of control. I couldn’t even believe that yeast infections could be that bad! It was horrendous. Anyone who has had a yeast infection is probably squirming in their seat just reading this. I am cringing a little just remembering. Anyway, I was given some medication toward the end of my pregnancy because the yeast was so bad and they didn’t want me to deliver with it like that for fear of passing it right to my baby girl. Things got cleared up, I had a beautiful baby, and all was right with the world (besides the fact that I had to have a catheter in place for a week after she was born and carry my pee around in a bag, but that’s another story). I didn’t have any more problems after that until I got pregnant with my second daughter. The yeast returned off and on through the pregnancy, getting worse the more sugar I ate (which was probably a lot, given that I was pregnant). It wasn’t as bad as the first time, but it wasn’t great. I also got thrush with my second baby and passed it on to her. That was not fun.
A few months before I got pregnant for the third time, I was introduced to kefir. I read about it in Nourishing Traditions, and did some more intensive reading about the benefits. It sounded like something my body needed, so I started taking it regularly. During our Juice Fast last spring I introduced a lot of probiotics to replace everything that was being “cleansed.” When we completed our fast I continued to have my kefir every day. I got pregnant 10 days after we ended our fast (coincidence? I think not). I have not had one tiny hint of a yeast infection since I have been consuming kefir every day. That may not seem like a big deal, but for someone plagued by them while pregnant, it was amazing to go through an entire pregnancy without ONE. I kept half-expecting them to pop up, especially at the end of this pregnancy, but they didn’t. I didn’t complain, and kept drinking that kefir religiously!
I only go into detail because I have seen such a significant change in my own life from cultured dairy products. The good bacteria that we introduce to our bodies by eating them are powerful. They really can turn things around “in there.” I am a firm believer in fermented foods and how they can completely change the way your body functions. These foods are ALIVE and we live in a symbiotic relationship with them as we consume them. If the word “fermented” gives you the squirms, STOP IT. One of the best things you could do for your body is introduce some fermented foods. I am only talking about dairy in this post, but there are a lot of other options for getting the extra vitamins and minerals, good bacteria, and other benefits of fermented foods in your diet.
In my next post I will talk more about yogurt: what to know, which kind to buy, etc. Most “yogurt” you buy in the store is what I would consider a “fake food” (especially Yoplait, if you’re buying it, don’t even tell me and stop right now).
If you missed my post on kefir, you can find it HERE.