by Adrienne Snavely
Most commercial yogurts are full of artificial colors, flavors, and sugar, which stimulate disease-causing bacteria, yeast, and fungi in the gut. This overpowers your good bacteria, increasing the chance you’ll get sick. Healthier yogurts are pasteurized at low temperatures and are made from raw milk rather than previously pasteurized milk at high temperatures.
A healthy gut is important in digestion and nutrient absorption, production of vitamins and minerals, the elimination of toxins, and for protecting your immune system and mental health. Gut bacteria are sensitive to diet and environmental factors including sugar, grains, processed foods, fluoridated water, and pesticides. What you eat quickly affects your gut flora. Eating lots of vegetables and fiber-rich foods is much better than a diet high in carbohydrates and processed fats. The most important step in building good gut bacteria is to avoid sugar. Yogurt containing probiotics benefit intestinal health and brain function. The least expensive way to get healthy gut bacteria is to buy raw milk and use it to make yogurt or kefir. A quart of kefir has more active bacteria than a probiotic supplement. This will keep your digestive tract full of enough good bacteria for daily gut health maintenance.
The Cornucopia Institute has filed a complaint with the FDA to examine whether yogurts on the market violate the legal definition of yogurt. They claim that major marketers of yogurts are misleading consumers. These yogurts are loaded with artificial sweeteners, colors, and emulsifiers – “junk food masquerading as health food”, states Mark Kastel, Codirector of Cornucopia Institute. The amount of total sugars in these yogurts are equivalent to that of candy bars. High fructose corn syrup promotes obesity and diabetes. The alternate sweetener, aspartame, has been linked by some to brain tumors and other neurological diseases in lab animals. The amount of added sugar from a single serving of yogurt can total the recommended daily limit. Another controversial ingredient, carrageenan (made from seaweed), can cause serious gastrointestinal inflammation and disease. People with inflammatory bowel disease can have their symptoms worsen from carrageenan. Artificial coloring has been linked to ADHD in children. Greek yogurt, which is gaining popularity, has added milk protein concentrate to increase the protein level and improve texture.
Many organic yogurts are less expensive than heavily-processed yogurts. They have been found to contain higher levels of beneficial bacteria than the most popular brands. Also, organic yogurt has better ratios of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids and higher levels of beneficial fats than regular yogurt. The healthiest choices of Cornucopia’s study – including Traders Point Creamery, Butterworks, and Cedar Summit Farm – have a short list of ingredients. It is cost-effective to purchase large containers of plain organic yogurt and mix in fresh fruit or granola for a healthy snack.
“New Report Criticizes Yogurt Industry: Major Brands Accused of Turning Health Food into Junk Food.” The Cornucopia Institute, Nov 2014. Web. 7 Dec 2014.
Mercola MD, Joseph. “New Report Will Reveal Which Yogurts Are Healthy, and Which Are Best Avoided.” Health. Mercola.com, 20 Nov 2014. Web. 7 Dec 2014.