Yogurt and Probiotic Wisdom

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I remember a couple of decades ago, when my grandfather’s physician recommended he “have some yogurt,” to restore intestinal flora that was lost in an intense round of antibiotics prescribed. With a bit of confusion, my grandfather showed the family the frozen yogurt he was eating. Apparently, the regular yogurt he’d tried had a taste too new or too sour for him to embrace. Still, he wanted to follow doctor’s orders. I tried to explain that the probiotic count of live bacteria was likely nonexistent in the highly processed, frozen yogurt my grandfather was dutifully ingesting each evening. I noticed the concept fell on deaf ears of every family member present.

I had found out about probiotics just a few years earlier, when a psychic healer recommended I take a probiotic supplement to battle a mild but persistent fungal skin condition that ran in the family. (Alternatively, my mother’s physician simply told her to stay out of the sun, which unfortunately only makes the condition less visible) Years later my rather brilliant holistic practitioner explained it further. The white spots on my skin were created by live organisms that ingested the melanin in my skin, leaving it paler in small round spots. The healthy bacteria that limited the existence of those invisible culprits would normally be all over my skin, but they were destroyed by my antibiotic use decades earlier. Thankfully, the spots were few and I had identified stress as a trigger to the condition flaring. By then, antibiotics were long out of my protocol as an acceptable route to maintaining health, but unless probiotics were reintroduced and multiplied both on and in my body, those healthy bacteria would be absent for the rest of my life.

Somewhere in between, my dearest, most valued heath practitioner, an acupuncturist par excellence, Dr. Wade suggested yogurt, as well, and gave specific brand advice for one with higher probiotic count and a number of probiotic strains. Acidophilus, which is often the only live probiotic strain in yogurt, has, for instance no effect, on small intestine health issues. For that one needs probiotics in the bifidus strain. There are many others worth researching, as are specific enzymes that allow digestion of particular food groups. (Research digestive factors such as amylase, protease, lactobacillus, bifidiobacterium.

Detractors think it’s all pseudo-science, when people claim one food allergy or another, probably because only decades ago, food allergies were rarely discussed. In actuality, according to my aforementioned holistic practitioner, what is really happening is not food allergies. They are food sensitivities, meaning that in medical terms, no allergic reaction is triggered, but the inability to digest a substance does exist due to the absence of the intestinal flora in the colon. Doubters and many of them MD’s, aren’t accounting for the common use of antibiotics in the livestock that supply our meat, poultry and dairy, as well as antibiotics all too commonly prescribed to people by physicians, both of which have destroyed our beneficial bacteria’s existence in our bodies.

Many of those same naysayers think humane treatment of animals doesn’t effect them, but it does. Crowded animals are often raised in their own fecal matter and stressed to the point of cruelty instead of being allowed to roam and graze as they were for millennia. Both conditions lead to disease and the inordinate amount of antibiotics they are fed over the full course of their lives. If they think those antibiotics’ effects are not absorbed by ingestion of those animals and their milk, they’re not being realistic. Add to that the highly questionable safety of animal feed from GMO crops, and it feels as if it’s an unfixable situation that’s spiraling to further diminish the health of people worldwide, but there is a way and some good people leading it.

So what can one do? Vote with your dollars! The fact is major corporations change their practices, when they have a monetary incentive to do so. Go ahead and give them one by buying products, whose manufacturer’s practices you believe in and hitting social media about which ones are good or bad. When a company sees they are losing a market share, they will research and accommodate the public outcry and implement the changes needed to regain those buyers. Dannon, for instance, has a new voluntary transparency pledge, to label GMO status on their products. In 2017, they have promised to work toward using exclusively only non-GMO ingredients and forming relationships with farmers who’s values are to raise cows more naturally and without GMO feed. Already 90% of the milk Dannon purchases is from Validus Certified compliant farms. Because Dannon is largest company in the yogurt business, others companies will follow their lead, so they don’t lose business. Which and how many probiotic strains they include in their 3 brands, Oikos, Daninals and Dannon, remains to be seen. With the “lite” food trend thankfully far behind us, Dannon is responding with a focus on whole milk yogurt, since it’s now common knowledge that it’s more carbohydrates than fat that leads to weight gain. Dannon’s widespread changes in company policies do appear to be a very promising step in the right direction, so let’s watch and see if they up the ante with the inclusion of several probiotic strains and a high count of them to truly support the backlash of antibiotic use. Remember, whatever probiotic source you use, be sure to uncover outside the refrigerator and let it sit in room temperature conditions for a while, so that probiotic count multiplies in the warmth before it reaches your stomach acid. Higher numbers in the millions or even billions of active probiotics are what you need to maintain your own level of healthy bacteria.

Disclosure: This post has been sponsored by Dannon Yogurt, part of the Danone company. Danone is the parent company of Stonyfield, Dannon, Evian & Nutricia North America. Danone is making changes such as this all over the world as part of their commitments to be more sustainable and healthier. The opinions expressed in my blog are my own.

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