Yogurt, a fermented dairy food, has been around for thousands of years and is an important part of the diet in the Middle East, Asia, Russia and Eastern European countries, such as Bulgaria. The beneficial bacteria in yogurt, also known as probiotics, improve your body’s ability to absorb essential nutrients, particularly calcium. Yogurt is also a potent inflammation-fighter, with well-documented curative effects for the pain and stiffness of arthritis, making it an important part of The Arthritis Healing Diet.
1. Yogurt blocks inflammation. People with arthritis should eat yogurt often because it blocks inflammation. A study in the World Journal of Gastroenterology found that the probiotics in yogurt trigger a decrease in C-reactive protein (CRP), a blood marker for inflammation that can go sky high in people with arthritis. Even more compelling, researchers noted that the bacteria strains Lactobacillus and Propionibacterium exert an especially strong effect on CRP. This means that certain beneficial bacteria have “strain-specific” anti-inflammatory abilities, so look for yogurt that contains these two when shopping. The same study found that yogurt’s beneficial bacteria caused a reduction in the body’s production of cytokines, body chemicals that turn on the inflammation response in joints.
For more scientific studies on probiotics go to: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.go/pubmed
2. Calcium is critical for joint health. Ounce for ounce, yogurt contains more assimilable calcium than an equal amount of milk. Calcium is an essential mineral for bone and cartilage health. Just 1 cup of plain nonyogurt provides 414 mg of calcium — 25% more than the same amount of nonfat milk. On top of that, the milk sugar (lactose) in yogurt has been predigested by beneficial bacteria, which greatly improves calcium absorption. Bottom line? Eating yogurt regularly is vital for everyone with arthritis.
More calcium also makes weight loss easier, giving relief to over-stressed joints. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that eating a diet high in calcium boosts fat burning in the body. Women aged 18-30 whose weight was normal were put on either a high-calcium or a low-calcium meal plan for a full year. The high-calcium women took in 1000-1400 mg of calcium daily from food sources, while the low-calcium group got less than 800 mg calcium daily. Results? The high-calcium group burned fat at 20 times the rate of the low-calcium group! This is a testament to calcium’s fat-burning power and its importance for people with arthritis.
3. Not all yogurts are arthritis-friendly. Steer clear of any yogurt containing sugar, artificial sweeteners, artificial coloring, candy and cookie pieces. These bear little resemblance to real yogurt. Most also have been pasteurized, which kills the live bacteria, rendering the yogurt ineffective in treating arthritis. When shopping, read yogurt labels carefully. Look for organic yogurt with labels marked “living active cultures” or “live active cultures.” Some of the most beneficial bacteria to look for include L. bulgaricus, B. bifidus, L. casei, L. rhamnosus and L. reuteria. If you find plain yogurt to be too sour for your taste, just add a little fresh fruit, cinnamon and ground flaxseed for a sweet, healthful and delicious meal or snack any time of day.
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