Shards of Consciousness

Eat Yogurt for Better Health

Organisms in the Digestive Tract

Our bodies are marvelously complex machines, but they cannot survive without the help of the symbiotic bacteria that form a part of the communities we call our bodies.

One of the main homes for symbiotic bacteria in our body is our digestive tract. These aid in digesting our food, including lactose, the main sugar in milk products. Their existence crowds out destructive bacteria, such as the yeast that is the source of so many infections. They help manufacture required nutrients such a B vitamins, so necessary for proper nervous system function and the proper uptake of iron. They have anti-carcinogenic effects, in particular by binding to heavy metals and biles. It is to our benefit to ensure we have a healthy balance of bacteria in our systems.

How We Kill Symbiotic Bacteria

The Western lifestyle, unfortunately, seems almost designed to destroy the bacteria on which our lives depend. This is the case in particular with antibiotics. Antibiotics have been grossly overused in our society, both through direct human usage for treating infections, and in feeding them to animals. As a result, we've bred superbugs and developed even stronger antibiotics to combat them. These antibiotics are not selective and will kill every organism in your digestive tract. If you've ever developed diarrhea after a bout of antibiotics, you've seen the results.

How We Can Get Bacteria Back

Like eggs, yogurt is a near perfect food. It contains 20 - 25 percent of the protein we need in a day. It is easily digested. If you're lactose intolerant you won't suffer for eating it. It contains huge amounts of natural symbiotic bacteria. It has high levels of calcium that, thanks to the presence of the bacteria, can be taken up by the body.

As a preventive measure, even if you don't eat yogurt at other times (a practice I recommend for everyone at least two to three times a week), eat yogurt with live cultures during your course of antibiotics and for a week or two afterwards. The organisms in yogurt will help replenish the organisms being destroyed by the medication and help maintain digestive function. The more natural the yogurt, the better. At the very least, ensure the yogurt you eat has live cultures.

Homemade Yogurt

Yogurt is not difficult or messy to make at home. Evidence indicates that it has been in use by humans for at least 4500 years. All you need is a live culture, milk, and a way to keep the yogurt at 90 -100 degrees Fahrenheit while it is gestating. The live culture is easily obtained by buying a container of plain yogurt at the store. You can use milk with any kind of fat level or dry milk.

  1. If you are using liquid milk, bring one quart to a boil on the stove. Immediately turn it off and let it cool to body temperature. This kills any bacteria that already in it. If you are using dry milk, just mix it as you normally would with water at body temperature.

  2. Add three tablespoons to one half cup of plain yogurt to the milk. Stir until mixed.

  3. Pour the mixture in a thermos jug. You could buy a yogurt maker, or set the covered mixture in an unlit oven, but I've found the thermos to be most effective and convenient for maintaining temperature during incubation.

  4. Let it sit undisturbed for at least four hours. At the end of this time, the yogurt should have formed. If not, let it set for another hour. It will probably be less thick than what you bought at the store. Most commercial yogurts have thickeners and binders added.

  5. After incubation, put the yogurt into covered containers and store them in the refrigerator.

  6. After your yogurt has chilled, you can eat it with your favorite ingredients. Bananas, strawberry, vanilla and cinnamon, whatever your favorite flavor of yogurt, you can do it at home. Make sure you save at least half a cup for your next batch. With luck, you may never have to buy yogurt again, and with each batch you make, you are attaining a more natural yogurt as the additives from your original starter are diluted.

    Yogurt Cream Cheese

    Quite a good cream cheese can be made from yogurt. Simply line a colander with three or four layers of cheesecloth. Pour the yogurt into it. Let it drain for a minute. Tie the corners of the cheesecloth and let it hang from the faucet for 6 - 8 hours. Store in the refrigerator. If you're lactose intolerant, this lets you have cream cheese for your bagels or toast with suffering for it. :-)

    More information on the health benefits of yogurt can be found at Ask Dr. Sears. Enjoy!

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