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DR MEGAN ROSSI: DIY yoghurt is both nutritious and cheap

Everywhere you go these days, it seems you can’t avoid fermented foods – these are very much in vogue in the food and diet world, and for good reason.

They contain live microbes that have a range of benefits, from making vitamins to training our immune system and deactivating toxins.

The microbes also improve the taste, texture and digestibility of the food (including lowering the lactose – milk sugar – in dairy products, for example). And they can increase vitamin concentrations.

Although fermented foods are now a regular part of my diet, I know that for some people products like kefir, kimchi or sauerkraut can be an acquired taste.

And to reap the full range of benefits, eat the things that need to be kept in the fridge, which can be strong in flavor (the jars on the shelves are usually pasteurized, which kills the things you want to: the microbes). .

You may be surprised to learn that food or drink that relies on microbes to produce it is technically considered “fermented.” This includes chocolate, cheese, coffee, olives, soy sauce, vinegar and even alcohol.

Everywhere you go these days, it seems you can't avoid fermented foods — these are very much in vogue in the nutrition and diet world, and for good reason, writes Dr.  Megan Rossi (photo)

Everywhere you go these days, it seems you can’t avoid fermented foods — these are very much in vogue in the nutrition and diet world, and for good reason, writes Dr. Megan Rossi (photo)

But just because it’s fermented doesn’t mean it’s good for you.

Take yogurt. Not only is yogurt a tasty snack on its own, but studies have linked it to a range of health benefits, including weight management and a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.

A study by Wageningen University in the Netherlands, involving more than 110,000 people, showed that yogurt eaters were more likely to have a healthy weight. Another study, in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2016, found that those who consumed 80 g of yogurt per day had a 14 percent lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to those who did not eat yogurt.

These benefits are due to the combined action of the protein, calcium and bacteria in yogurt.

The bacteria help break down the lactose into lactic acid (more on that later), converting various milk proteins and fats into compounds with anti-inflammatory properties, for example.

Some of these compounds act as blood pressure medications known as ACE inhibitors.

Other compounds in yogurt are thought to have an effect on appetite. For example, this could explain the findings of a 2014 study from the University of Missouri in the US, where people consumed about 100 fewer calories at dinner, while their afternoon snack was yogurt instead of a chocolate bar with the same calories.

Plus, the lactic acid in yogurt — which naturally helps keep bad microbes from spoiling it — can boost nutrient absorption and possess antioxidant properties itself.

And because the bacteria in it help “digest” some of the lactose, people with sensitive guts or lactose intolerance can tolerate yogurt better than unfermented dairy products, such as milk.

However, not all yogurt is created equal. Two types of bacteria are needed to make yogurt, Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. Still, some manufacturers heat-treat yogurt to extend its shelf life, which kills the bacteria.

For maximum health benefits, look for yogurts that not only certify they are “alive,” but also the number (you want at least 100 million) and the names of bacteria. This way you know for sure that it contains enough bacteria to survive your sour stomach.

Many products in supermarket chillers contain a variety of additives, including thickeners and sweeteners. As I explained before, sweeteners can affect our gut microbes, leading to an increased blood sugar response to food, liver inflammation and weight gain.

If you make it yourself, you can let it ferment longer for a more sour taste.  It also provides a greater amount of lactic acid and less lactose, unlike regular yogurt

If you make it yourself, you can let it ferment longer for a more sour taste.  It also provides a greater amount of lactic acid and less lactose, unlike regular yogurt

If you make it yourself, you can let it ferment longer for a more sour taste. It also provides a greater amount of lactic acid and less lactose, unlike regular yogurt

While this research has largely been done in animals, it has recently been backed up in human studies, including one published this month in the journal Cell.

This found that taking saccharin or sucralose every day for two weeks affected the balance of people’s gut microbiome and their blood sugar responses (in other words, how well their bodies processed sugar, which can lead to weight gain and type 2 diabetes).

I’m surprised that some yogurt brands that claim “gut health” and list the bacteria on the label also contain such sweeteners.

It’s worth checking your usual brand – or making your own! My recipe (top right) shows that nothing is wrong.

Fermenting food reminds me of a slow cooker: once you prepare it, you just leave it there while the mixture (especially the microbes) do the hard work.

Yogurt is cheap to make and only takes two minutes to prepare. You leave it overnight, and voila! – it will be ready by morning.

If you make it yourself, you can let it ferment longer for a more sour taste. It also provides a higher amount of lactic acid and less lactose, unlike regular yogurt.

And you can add extras like powdered milk to make it thicker and creamier; or strain it through a muslin cloth for Greek-style yogurt, which will increase the protein and lower the lactose content. (Use the strained liquid, the whey, for an extra dose of calcium and microbes. I add it to smoothies.)

If you stir in your own fruit flavors as you make it, the microbes can also ferment some of the fruit sugar, improving the final flavor and supporting the growth of beneficial microbes commonly added to yogurt, such as strains of Lactobacillus.

I use yogurt in sauces, dips, and baking – replacing cream in baked cheesecake; Also in other cake and cookie recipes I replace half the butter or oil with equal amounts of thick yogurt.

Can you make yogurt with plant-based milk? The microbes used to make traditional yogurt eat lactose, which is found in animal milk. If you try to add these microbes to lactose-free milk, they starve and leave behind a watery mess. But yes, it is also possible with vegetable yogurt starters together with thickeners such as cornstarch. You can find recipes on the internet.

But one thing is for sure, once you’ve started making your own yogurt, you won’t look back!

Note: If you are on antibiotics, I recommend taking some live yogurt every day for a month after finishing the course. It helps nourish your gut lining, which is often more sensitive afterwards.

Did you know?

If you get your 30 grams of fiber every day, you let wind through ten to twenty times a day. Don’t worry – this is a sign of well-nourished and functioning gut microbes.

Try This: Live Yogurt With Blueberry Jam

This yogurt will keep in the fridge for up to two weeks, or even longer, depending on how fresh the milk is.

  • 2 tbsp yogurt (check the label for ‘live cultures’)

Topper: 140 g blueberries or other berries; 1 Medjool date, finely chopped; 1 tbsp chia seeds

Place the milk and milk powder in a saucepan over a low to medium heat and simmer until it reaches a temperature of about 45c. Place the yogurt in an ovenproof pot and slowly stir in the warmed milk mixture so that the yogurt is evenly distributed.

Preheat the oven to 50c and then turn it off. Turn on the oven light. Leave the opened jar in the oven for eight to 12 hours – the longer you leave it, the thicker and sharper the yogurt will be.

For the jam topper, place the berries, sliced ​​dates and half a cup of water in a pan: bring to a gentle boil, then flatten the fruit with the back of a spatula and simmer for another ten minutes.

Stir in the chia seeds and simmer for two minutes, or until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat and let cool. Stir a spoonful of jam into each yogurt portion and refrigerate to set.

AskMegan

I’ve been on acid reflux medications for several years and generally have a good, albeit bland, diet to avoid ‘episodes’. But it’s pretty limiting and I’d like some advice to make it more interesting.

Selina Moore

Enjoying food is an important part of my approach, and I agree, we need to make you enjoy a wide variety of food again.

The first step is to talk to your primary care physician about the underlying cause of your reflux. Is H.pylori ruled out (this common bacterial infection can cause reflux)? Are you at your happy weight (being overweight can put pressure on the valve between the stomach and esophagus)? Medications such as aspirin and ibuprofen can irritate the gut lining and may also be a factor.

Once these questions have been considered, it may be worth reviewing your current reflux medication and whether the type and dose are right for you.

In a previous column, I delved into the nutritional strategies for managing reflux, including smaller, more frequent meals – in many cases, this simple step is enough to provide adequate relief so that you can once again enjoy a more diverse and delicious range of foods. .

It’s also worth experimenting with herbs and spices, such as smoked paprika and rosemary, which provide incredible flavor without causing reflux.

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