Yogurt: The Original Health Food
No one knows for sure when yogurt first appeared on the culinary scene, but estimations date its arrival back to the beginning of agriculture, many centuries ago. The first record of possible health benefits from yogurt was in the 1500s. The Sultan of the Ottoman Empire sent his doctor with a satchel of yogurt to Francois I, the King of France, to cure his intestinal disorder. It worked and yogurt's reputation as a health food was born.
Yogurt is made from milk—whole, low-fat, or skim milk can be used. Live bacteria (also known as cultures) are added to the milk. Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus are the two cultures required for a product to meet the legal definition of yogurt. Some manufacturers add other bacteria as well. The mixture is then incubated—time and temperature will determine the flavor, consistency, and acidity.
The bacteria in yogurt are commonly known as probiotics or "friendly bacteria." Studies suggest that these probiotics can provide a variety of benefits, including preventing traveler's diarrhea, antibiotic-associated diarrhea, and other forms of digestive infection, and possibly strengthening the immune system against respiratory infections.
Last reviewedMay 2012by Peter J. Lucas, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.