Yoghurt is a very nutritious food and essential throughout lifespan. It is known as a food of high biological value, given its high content in numerous essential nutrients. In addition, when combined with fruits, yoghurt can be a balanced and tasteful snack of high nutritional value but also of low calorie content.
Dairy products’ consumption is of great importance for children's growth, since they contain a variety of essential nutrients, including vitamins (such as vitamin A, D and B-complex vitamins) and minerals, such as calcium and phosphorus (which are necessary for skeletal growth), as well as potassium.
Dietary patterns adopted all around the world incorporate the consumption of dairy products on a daily basis. This applies not only to adults but also to children and adolescents, since dairy products are rich in high biological value proteins and constitute the most important dietary source of calcium. Calcium is a nutrient that helps strengthen and maintain healthy bones and teeth throughout lifespan. It is involved in skeletal growth and protects from fractures due to osteoporosis, a disease characterized by fragile bones in adults. Milk and yogurt are the richest sources of calcium and provide about 55% of a child’s daily calcium needs. Thus, parents need to ensure that these foods are included in their children’s daily diet.
Maternal diet during pregnancy is of special importance both for the proper growth of the fetus and for the health status of the pregnant woman. Among other dietary practices, habitual consumption of dairy products constitutes a significant part of a balanced diet during pregnancy.
Specifically, a pregnant woman should consume 4-6 servings of dairy products on a daily basis. One serving of dairy products provides 300 mg of calcium and is equivalent to one of the following:
- 1 cup of milk (250 ml)
- 200 grams of yogurt
- 30 grams of cheese
Calcium is a very important nutrient throughout lifespan, with particular emphasis on the period of adolescence, when bones grow very quickly, but also in adulthood, when calcium absorption is reduced and, as a result, a greater intake is required in order to cover the body’s needs.
How much calcium do we need daily?
The daily requirements of calcium vary by age and sex and are altered during pregnancy or lactation. The recommended daily needs in calcium and the amount of dairy products’ servings required to cover these needs are presented below.
Increased working hours can affect our dietary habits in a negative way, since we rarely devote time to cook and supply our refrigerator with food. Thus, most working individuals tend to be in a fasting state (abstain from food) for many hours during the day, eat once a day usually late at night, and consume ready-to-eat meals (fast food). These meals are usually high in fat, calories and salt, and at the same time low in essential nutrients. If you also take into consideration the reduced physical activity level due to lack of time, then the weakening of your immune system and weight gain come as no surprise.
Yoghurt, is a dairy product produced through the fermentation process of milk’s lactic acid from Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophiles, which presents strong anticancer properties among its numerous health benefits. These qualities are mostly attributed to its nutrients, to the beneficial bacteria it contains, as well as to specific substances produced during the process of fermentation. Specifically, yoghurt’s natural constituents, such as proteins, calcium and specific vitamins or minerals, as well as peptides and free fatty acids produced during the fermentation process, can greatly boost the body’s immune system. In addition, yoghurt contains conjugated linoleic acid, a fatty acid produced by bacteria that has strong anticancer properties. Yoghurt’s consumption has also been found to boost the activity of macrophages and increase the number of B lymphocytes in comparison to cow’s milk. So far, numerous studies have demonstrated that yoghurt’s consumption has cancer-suppressing effects, supporting that this is most probably due to the enhancement of the immune system. Indeed, clinical studies exploring the effects of yogurt intake on the immune function, have shown promising results, including the reduced production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, the enhanced phagocytic activity and the proper functioning of T lymphocytes. An increased production of interferon-γ by T lymphocytes has also been observed in adults (aged 20-40 years) who consumed 450 g / day of yogurt for a period of 4 months.