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The Yogurt Exception      

Why Fermented Milk Products are different. . .

Livin' Large and Losing Weight: Stella Style For many of us, starting on the low-carb path has meant being a label reader and always, always looking to the carb counts. If you were a person that enjoyed a dish of yogurt or a glass of buttermilk, you might have assumed you can no longer have them — at least in any real quantity — since their labels show them to be high in carbs. But as you'll see when you read on, you can't always trust the label to give you the entire story. Doctors Jack Goldberg, and Karen O'Mara explain in their book The GO-Diet, there's an exception here that works to your advantage. With proper credit to them, here's the skinny:

There has been a lot of press in the recent years about yeast overgrowth and its effects on your health and well being. There is some reason to believe that high carbohydrate diets and the overuse of some drugs, like antibiotics, may promote abnormal yeast overgrowth in and on the body. One natural way to combat this problem is to use an ancient remedy that is natural and well tolerated by anyone. This remedy is to restore healthy bacteria to your body in the form of cultured milk products such as kefir, yogurt, and buttermilk.

A bacterium called "lactobacillus" is a very important conditioner of the human gastrointestinal tract. You can take pills, but again, we feel it is better to use natural sources. It is much more delicious to take your bacteria in live culture kefir, yogurt, or buttermilk. Any of these three products can, and SHOULD, be used as part of your daily diet. Of the three choices, kefir may have even additional benefits because of the other "good" microorganisms it contains. Kefir is made from cultures containing a specific mixture of bacteria and "friendly" yeasts that are obtained from the kefir grain. There are currently research projects being undertaken in the United States to assess whether there are additional benefits to kefir. There are patents on anticancer substances extracted from kefir grains. This product has been widely used in western Europe, having originated several centuries ago.

Buttermilk Recent research has shown that among its many good qualities, these bacteria also stimulate the body to produce important immune response chemicals called "cytokines." These molecules include interferons and tumor necrosis factor and therefore might improve our resistance to disease. They also form a great deal of bulk for the formation of well-formed, non-constipating stools. Even lactose-intolerant individuals can tolerate kefir, yogurt and buttermilk. That is because the lactose in the milk used to make these products has been digested by the "good" lactobacillus. For example, the actual lactose left in kefir made by a national manufacturer is 1% or less. IN THIS CASE ONLY, AND WITH THESE FOODS ONLY, don't count the carbohydrate on the package labels. Why not?

The problem with the stated carbohydrate content on the packages of fermented food products arises because the government makes manufacturers count the carbohydrates of food "by difference." That means they measure everything else including water and ash and fats and proteins. Then "by difference," they assume everything else is carbohydrate. This works quite well for most foods including milk. However, to make yogurt, buttermilk and kefir, the milk is inoculated with the lactic acid bacteria. These bacteria use up almost all the milk sugar called "lactose" and convert it into lactic acid. It is this lactic acid which curds the milk and gives the taste to the product. Since these bacteria have "eaten" most of the milk sugar by the time you buy it (or make it yourself.) At the time you eat it, how can there be much carbohydrate left? It is the lactic acid which is counted as carbohydrate. Therefore, you can eat up to a half cup of plain yogurt, buttermilk, or kefir and only count 2 grams of carbohydrates (Dr. Goldberg has measured this in his own laboratory.) One cup will contain about 4 grams of carbohydrates. Daily consumption colonizes the intestine with these bacteria to handle small amounts of lactose in yogurt (or even sugar-free ice cream later.)

Blue Bunny Yogurt When you go to buy ready-made kefir and yogurt, look for plain, unsweetened or artificially sweetened varieties. [Note: Blue Bunny now makes a Splenda-sweetened version of their yogurts that are delicious! See our review of them 3/6/2001.] Don't be afraid of plain, unsweetened varieties. This is how kefir and yogurt have traditionally been used. You may find that "plain" tastes best of all. Or, you can add your own no-calorie sweeteners and flavorings (or berries or nuts and seeds). It may be better if the product is "bovine growth hormone free" although this is still controversial.

Does it matter if it's "nonfat", "low fat" or "original, normal fat"? No. This will affect the texture a bit, but on this diet, you can eat any fat content product. Your preference rules here. We prefer the "mouth feel" of the whole milk varieties. Try them all and decide for yourself. You should also get a little gutsy now and try cheeses made from kefir and yogurt. These products are available ready made or you can make them yourself. Aim for at least 8 ounces of kefir, yogurt, or buttermilk daily.

Yogurt is a great health food and is enjoyed by just about everyone. The cultures found in yogurt such as Acidophilus are beneficial to the digestive system. For example, Acidophilus, which is primarily found in the small intestine, produces Lactase which is the enzyme that digests milk sugars. Bifidobacterium is another beneficial bacteria found primarily in the large intestine and these bacteria produce B-vitamins such as B1, B6 and B12 as well as folic acid and some amino acids. Eating yogurt will help maintain healthy levels of beneficial bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract.

Kefir is one of the oldest cultured milks. It has a bubbly effervescence and no bitter aftertaste. It is a fermented milk and contains a mixture of several species of lactic cultures. Kefir milk helps restore the intestinal flora and may help with digestive troubles because of its easy digestion. It is predigested due to the fermentation process and is tolerable for those people that are lactose intolerant.

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