Is your yoghurt good or bad for you?
Q. My colleagues and I were discussing which yoghurts are healthy, as there is so much confusing advertising. Surely low-fat fruit versions are best? A. This topic is a ‘bee in the bonnet’ of nutritionists. Women’s health expert Marilyn Glenville (www.marilynglenville.com) says, ‘Many clients say they are eating healthily, including low-fat fruit yoghurts. I have to explain this is not so, even with low-fat organic versions.’
Yoghurt is basically milk fermented with bacteria.
It can be a true health food with good levels of protein, calcium and magnesium, plus some B vitamins, vitamin D and omega-3 essential fatty acids. Because yoghurt is cultured, it improves the absorption of nutrients such as calcium and makes them easier to digest. Some lactose-intolerant people can take yoghurt because the lactose has been broken down.
Bio-yoghurt contains good bacteria. Look for ‘bio’ (rather than ‘live’) products with lactobacillus acidophilus and/or bifidobacteria, which naturally inhabit our digestive systems and help immune function.
Choose full-fat organic yoghurts. ‘Fat is not the culprit in obesity, diabetes or heart disease [except for trans fats],’ says Marilyn. ‘Good fats, which we can only get through diet or supplements, are vital for our bodies and brains.’ Organic milk contains more omega-3 essential fatty acids. Plus full-fat yoghurt leaves you more satisfied and less likely to snack. Greek yoghurt has more fat than regular.
Low-fat fruit yoghurts can contain up to eight teaspoons of added refined sugar. Sugar is often the highest ingredient after milk. So this type of yoghurt is a high GI food, causing blood sugar (glucose) levels to rise quickly so your body releases more insulin. Over time this can cause insulin resistance and then type 2 diabetes, also increasing the risk of heart disease and cancer.
Other ingredients are often added to make low-fat versions more palatable, such as starch, another refined carb.
Avoid ‘diet’ yoghurts. They can contain fructose syrup, considered worse than sugar in terms of leading to obesity, diabetes and fatty liver, and/or artificial sweeteners, which are linked to increased appetite and weight gain. Also, soya yoghurts contain less calcium than milk ones (read the label to see if there is added sugar as some fruit versions contain lots).
In general, look for yoghurts with the shortest list of ingredients. Or to make a healthy fruit yoghurt, add your own (organic if possible) fruit to full-fat, organic natural yoghurt.
HOW TO TREAT ECZEMA NATURALLY
Having suffered eczema for decades, I feel passionately that other sufferers should know to avoid the harsh detergent and foaming agent sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS), which is found in many cosmetic and cleaning products, also baby wipes and bubble baths.
My eczema disappeared when I switched to SLS-free products. For washing and cleaning the house I use Method natural products (methodproducts.co.uk) and I always avoid cosmetic products with SLS or other sulphates.
Sadly, GP s routinely prescribe aqueous cream, which contains SLS , as a leave-on emollient, according to the National Eczema Society (www.eczema.org), despite research showing that more than half of children who used it suffered an immediate reaction such as stinging.
Alternatives include Allergenics Emollient Cream, £5.79 for 50ml, from Victoria Health - buy here; oat-based Aveeno Skin Relief Lotion, £7.65 for 300 ml, from boots.com - buy here - and Dexeryl Cream by Pierre Fabre Dermo-Cosmetique, which is available on prescription.
WORTH THE WHEAT
We love the All Over Body Pillow by the Natural Wheatbag Company, £10. Heat this sausage-shaped wheat bag in the microwave and use for period pain, aching muscles or instead of a hottie (much safer for arthritic hands). Use it chilled from the fridge or freezer for headaches or hot flushes. At Victoria Health - buy here