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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Healthy 100 Article: Live, Active and Strong

Yogurt has received a lot of attention lately because it contains two nutrients that are important for overall health: probiotics, a class of healthy bacteria that live in the bowel; and calcium, necessary for strong bones and teeth.

Probiotics such as Lactobacillus can help digestion and boost immunity. They can help people cope with the diarrhea associated with antibiotic treatments, prevent yeast infections, treat irritable bowel syndrome and fight eczema in children. A limited Swedish study in 2005 found that people given L. reuteri missed fewer days at work from gastrointestinal or respiratory illnesses than people in a control group.

Calcium’s benefits extend beyond building healthy teeth and bones, and reducing the risk of osteoporisis. It helps the nervous system and muscles work properly, and helps blood clot effectively. It also protects against certain cancers (including those of the colon and breast), acts to reduce blood pressure and, according to a 2003 University of Tennessee study, may even help you lose weight.

It’s easy to include probiotic- and calcium-rich yogurt in your diet. Make sure the yogurt has probiotics by checking the label for “live cultures.” And if you favor flavored yogurts, read labels carefully to find brands that limit added sugar.

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