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How to select live culture yogurt

Updated April 17, 2017

It's easy to be confused when shopping for yoghurt in the dairy case, as there are dozens of varieties. Some yoghurts are made with cow’s milk, goat’s milk or soy milk. What’s the difference? Some are made with live cultures such as Lactobacillius acidophilus and bifidus that helps the body manufacture more so-called friendly bacteria in the gut. If you have ever taken a prescription for oral antibiotics and later felt your digestion was off or you even had a yeast infection, this is a common side affect. Prescription antibiotics are designed to kill off all bacteria in the gut, including the ones that make you feel ill and the ones that maintain a homeostasis so you can digest foods. Yoghurt has been made for centuries in kitchens around the world from starter bacterias, much the way sourdough bread is made. Today, it is safest and easier to simply purchase live culture yoghurts as the supermarket or health food store.

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  1. Begin by reading labels. You may be surprised to discover that your favourite yoghurt contains no live cultures. This is common among many well-known brands of yoghurts.

  2. Know what to look for on the labels. Specifically, you are interested in yoghurts that contain the live cultures Lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidus. There may be two or three other types of live cultures, but these are the most common and easiest to assimilate for most people.

  3. Don’t be fooled. Even labels that read “live cultures” on the front of the yoghurt container may, upon closer inspection of the food label, contain only milk, added milk powder, gelatin, sugars, fruits and colours.

  4. Remember that even nonfat, organic, live culture yoghurt has natural sugar. A one-cup serving of this kind of yoghurt provides live cultures, 14 grams of protein, 0 grams of fat and 10 grams of sugar. That is not added sugar, but simply sugar from the milk from which it is made. This is to say all things in moderation.

  5. Consuming ½ to 1 cup of live culture yoghurt a day is appropriate for most adults. Consult your physician or nutritionist for specific guidance.

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About the Author

Sava Tang Alcantara has been a writer and editor since 1988, working as a writer and editor for health publications such as "Let's Live Magazine" and "Whole Life Times." Alcantara specializes in health and fitness and is a certified yoga teacher and personal trainer. She does volunteer work regularly and has taught free public yoga classes in Santa Monica, Calif. since 2002.

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