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Yoghurt : Probiotic

1. Yogurt is easier to digest than milk. Many people who cannot tolerate milk, either because of a protein allergy or lactose intolerance, can enjoy yogurt. The culturing process makes yogurt more digestible than milk. The live active cultures create lactase, the enzyme lactose-intolerant people lack, and another enzyme contained in some yogurts (beta-galactosidase) also helps improve lactose absorption in lactase-deficient persons. Bacterial enzymes created by the culturing process, partially digest the milk protein casein, making it easier to absorb and less allergenic. In our pediatric practice, we have observed that children who cannot tolerate milk can often eat yogurt without any intestinal upset. While the amount varies among brands of yogurt, in general, yogurt has less lactose than milk. The culturing process has already broken down the milk sugar lactose into glucose and galactose, two sugars that are easily absorbed by lactose-intolerant persons.

2. Yogurt contributes to colon health. There’s a medical truism that states: “You’re only as healthy as your colon.” When eating yogurt, you care for your colon in two ways. First, yogurt contains lactobacteria, intestines-friendly bacterial cultures that foster a healthy colon, and even lower the risk of colon cancer. Lactobacteria, especially acidophilus, promotes the growth of healthy bacteria in the colon and reduces the conversion of bile into carcinogenic bile acids. The more of these intestines-friendly bacteria that are present in your colon, the lower the chance of colon diseases. Basically, the friendly bacteria in yogurt seems to deactivate harmful substances (such as nitrates and nitrites before they are converted to nitrosamines) before they can become carcinogenic.

Secondly, yogurt is a rich source of calcium – a mineral that contributes to colon health and decreases the risk of colon cancer. Calcium discourages excess growth of the cells lining the colon, which can place a person at high risk for colon cancer. Calcium also binds cancer-producing bile acids and keeps them from irritating the colon wall. People that have diets high in calcium (e.g. Scandinavian countries) have lower rates of colorectal cancer. One study showed that an average intake of 1,200 milligrams of calcium a day is associated with a 75 percent reduction of colorectal cancer. As a survivor of colon cancer, I have a critical interest in the care of my colon. My life depends on it.

3. Yogurt improves the bioavailability of other nutrients. Culturing of yogurt increases the absorption of calcium and B-vitamins. The lactic acid in the yogurt aids in the digestion of the milk calcium, making it easier to absorb.

4. Yogurt can boost immunity. Researchers who studied 68 people who ate two cups of live-culture yogurt daily for three months found that these persons produced higher levels of immunity boosting interferon. The bacterial cultures in yogurt have also been shown to stimulate infection-fighting white cells in the bloodstream. Some studies have shown yogurt cultures to contain a factor that has anti-tumor effects in experimental animals.

NUTRITIP: Yogurt – Good for Young and Old

Yogurt is a valuable health food for both infants and elderly persons. For children, it is a balanced source of protein, fats, carbohydrates, and minerals in a texture that kids love. For senior citizens, who usually have more sensitive colons or whose intestines have run out of lactase, yogurt is also a valuable food. Elderly intestines showed declining levels of bifidus bacteria, which allow the growth of toxin-producing and, perhaps, cancer-causing bacteria.

5. Yogurt aids healing after intestinal infections. Some viral and allergic gastrointestinal disorders injure the lining of the intestines, especially the cells that produce lactase. This results in temporary lactose malabsorption problems. This is why children often cannot tolerate milk for a month or two after an intestinal infection. Yogurt, however, because it contains less lactose and more lactase, is usually well-tolerated by healing intestines and is a popular “healing food” for diarrhea. Many pediatricians recommend yogurt for children suffering from various forms of indigestion. Research shows that children recover faster from diarrhea when eating yogurt. It’s good to eat yogurt while taking antibiotics. The yogurt will minimize the effects of the antibiotic on the friendly bacteria in the intestines.

NUTRITIP: A Chaser for Antibiotics

Antibiotics kill not only harmful bacteria; they also kill the healthy ones in the intestines. The live bacterial cultures in yogurt can help replenish the intestines with helpful bacteria before the harmful ones take over. I usually “prescribe” a daily dose of yogurt while a person is taking antibiotics and for two weeks thereafter.

A 1999 study reported in Pediatrics showed that lactobacillus organisms can reduce antibiotic-associated diarrhea.

6. Yogurt can decrease yeast infections. Research has shown that eating eight ounces of yogurt that contains live and active cultures daily reduces the amount of yeast colonies in the vagina and decreases the incidence of vaginal yeast infections.

7. Yogurt is a rich source of calcium. An 8-ounce serving of most yogurts provides 450 mg. ofcalcium, one-half of a child’s RDA and 30 to 40 percent of the adult RDA for calcium. Because the live-active cultures in yogurt increase the absorption of calcium, an 8-ounce serving of yogurt gets more calcium into the body than the same volume of milk can.

8. Yogurt is an excellent source of protein. Plain yogurt contains around ten to fourteen grams of protein per eight ounces, which amounts to twenty percent of the daily protein requirement for most persons. In fact, eight ounces of yogurt that contains live and active cultures, contains 20 percent more protein than the same volume of milk (10 grams versus 8 grams). Besides being a rich source of proteins, the culturing of the milk proteins during fermentation makes these proteins easier to digest. For this reason, the proteins in yogurt are often called “predigested.”

9. Yogurt can lower cholesterol. There are a few studies that have shown that yogurt canreduce the blood cholesterol. This may be because the live cultures in yogurt can assimilate the cholesterol or because yogurt binds bile acids, (which has also been shown to lower cholesterol), or both.

10. Yogurt is a “grow food.” Two nutritional properties of yogurt may help children with intestinal absorption problems grow: the easier digestibility of the proteins and the fact that the lactic acid in yogurt increases the absorption of minerals. And even most picky-eaters will eat yogurt in dips and smoothies and as a topping.

Perhaps we can take a health tip about yogurt cultures from cultures who consume a lot of yogurt, such as the Bulgarians who are noted for their longer lifespan and remain in good health well into old age.

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Benefits of exercise

Benefits of exercise

Regular exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. This article explains the health benefits that are linked to regularexercise, and offers advice about how you can be more physically active.

The health benefits of regular exercise

There is overwhelming scientific evidence that people who lead active lifestyles are less likely to suffer from illness and more likely tolive longer. Exercise not only makes you physically fitter, it alsoimproves your mental health and general sense of wellbeing. Some of thehealth benefits of exercise are described here.

  • Exercise can reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. Diseases affecting the heart and blood vessels (cardiovascular disease),including heart disease and stroke, are the biggest cause of illness anddeath in the UK. Inactive people have almost double the risk of dyingfrom heart disease compared with people who are active. So if you don'tdo any exercise at all, even doing a little more physical activity - forexample, walking each day - can help reduce your risk of heart disease.
  • Doing exercise can also help to reduce high blood pressure (hypertension). You are more likely to have a stroke or heart attack ifyou have high blood pressure. High blood pressure is common - about halfof all people aged between 65 and 74 have it - but it has no symptoms.Exercise can help to prevent high blood pressure, and reduce it if yoursis already too high.
  • If you need to improve your cholesterol levels, exercise can help. There are two types of cholesterol - low-density lipoprotein (LDL) andhigh-density lipoprotein (HDL). LDL cholesterol is sometimes called"bad" cholesterol; HDL cholesterol is sometimes called "good"cholesterol. High levels of LDL and low levels of HDL increase the riskof heart disease.

Studies show that regular exercise such as brisk walking or running is linked to higher levels of HDL ("good") cholesterol. Being activehelps to increase levels of "good" cholesterol.

  • Exercise can help to promote healthy blood sugar levels. Type 2 diabetes develops in at least one in 10 people, causing increased bloodsugar levels.
  • Poorly controlled blood sugar levels can eventually damage your eyes, nerves, kidneys and arteries.

The more exercise you do, the lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Exercise is especially important if you are at high risk ofdeveloping type 2 diabetes, for example if you are overweight, have highblood pressure or have close family members with the condition.

Exercise is also good for you if you already have type 2 diabetes - regular physical activity can help control your blood sugar levels.

  • You are more likely to have joint pain or lower back pain if you don't do any exercise. Osteoarthritis is the most common joint problemand affects nearly everyone over the age of 60. Regular, moderateactivity, especially walking, has been linked to a lower risk ofosteoarthritis.

Eight out of 10 people have lower back pain at some time in their lives, but people who exercise are less likely to suffer from it.

Osteoporosis (low bone density) is when your bones become brittle and prone to fracture. You can reduce your risk of developing osteoporosisby doing high-impact exercise such as running and skipping. This putsweight on your bones, increases bone density in younger people and slowsdown their degeneration later in life. But choose low-impact,weight-bearing exercise, such as gentle walking or swimming, if youalready have osteoporosis.

  • Exercise can reduce the risk of certain cancers. You are less likely to develop cancer if you are physically active. There is especiallyclear evidence that exercise protects against colon cancer and againstbreast cancer in women who have been through the menopause. Some studiessuggest that physical activity may also help prevent lung andendometrial cancers.
  • Doing exercise can help you to manage your weight. Excess calories are stored as fat, so you put on weight when you eat more calories thanyou use. Physical activity uses calories and so helps to create ahealthy energy balance. For many people, exercise is essential formaintaining a healthy weight.

You are obese if you have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or over. Obesity doubles your risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.It also increases the possibility that you will develop joint problemsand some cancers.

Obesity is caused by an imbalance between your energy intake from food and energy output through activity and metabolism (the chemicalreactions going on in your body). You are more likely to be obese if youare inactive. Physical activity alone can help you lose weight if youare overweight or obese - the more you do, the more you will lose.However, combining exercise with a healthy diet will mean you loseweight faster.

  • Exercise can both help prevent and treat mental illness. Leading an inactive lifestyle for long periods of time means you are more likely tosuffer from clinical depression. Some studies suggest that regularexercise is at least as effective for treating depression as talkingtreatments or medicines, with fewer side-effects than medicines.

You may also benefit from exercise if you have anxiety-related disorders, such as phobias, panic attacks or stress.

  • You are likely to feel happier, more satisfied with life and have an improved sense of wellbeing if you are physically active. Introduceregular exercise into your routine and you should sleep better, loweryour stress levels and boost your self-image. It's also possible that itmay improve brain function in children and older adults.

Get started!

The average adult needs to do at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day, on five or more days a week to gain the health benefitsdescribed here. However, many people should actually do more. Forexample, children should be active for a total of 60 minutes every day,including spontaneous play as well as organised sports activities. Manypeople need to aim for 45 to 60 minutes on at least five days a week toprevent obesity if they aren't making any dietary changes. If you usedto be obese and have already lost weight, maintaining the weight-lossmay need 60 to 90 minutes of activity on five days.

You don't need to spend hours at the gym or run marathons to be healthy. You can do three 10 minute or two 15 minute bouts to reach yourminimum of 30 minutes and this can be as effective as lengthiersessions. You might find this a more manageable target to begin with.

The easiest way to sustain an exercise habit is to incorporate it into your daily routine. One way to raise your level of physicalactivity is to cycle or walk to work instead of taking the bus ordriving. Use stairs instead of the lift, and spend more time gardeningor walking in the park - this will help to increase your energy output.

Sometimes it's hard to motivate yourself to be more physically active and it can feel like a chore. Start by changing the way you think aboutregular exercise. Remind yourself that it will make you feel better,and will probably improve the quality and length of your life. Mostimportantly, it can be fun!

Key points

  • Regular moderate exercise will benefit your health in many ways, both physically and mentally.
  • Exercise reduces your risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and cancer.
  • Exercise reduces your risk of bone and joint problems.
  • Exercise helps you manage your weight.
  • Exercise helps prevent and control diabetes.
  • Exercise helps you feel happier.
  • To see most of these benefits, you need to do at least 30 minutes of moderate activity on five days of the week.
(Extracted from
Published by Bupa's health information team,, April 2008
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