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Yogurt the Immune Booster
A new study provides strong evidence that yogurt can enhance immunity, particularly among seniors.

Investigators in New Zealand and St. Johns, Canada, compared two groups of volunteers age 60 and older. For six weeks participants drank either plain milk or milk laced with yogurt cultures.

By the end of the study and for several weeks after, blood tests revealed that the yogurt group had stronger immunity (European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 3/00)

An earlier trial from the University of California at Davis also confirmed the immune-boosting benefits of yogurt. In that study, researchers found that eating yogurt daily results in a four-fold increase in the body's production of gamma-interferon, a substance believed to enhance immune function.

Culture Club

Yogurt, which is simply milk that has been curdled by the addition of "friendly" bacteria, has long been advocated as a health food, primarily for its digestive benefits. It contains "good" bacteria, called probiotics, that help keep disease-causing organisms in the bowel in check. What's more, the friendly bacteria help the body break down foods, synthesize vitamins, and process hormones such as estrogen. They may possibly even prevent or treat a number of illnesses, including ulcers, colon cancer, and vaginal yeast infections.

For the greatest punch, be sure to buy yogurts that contain live, active cultures. In addition, the fresher the better: As yogurt ages, the probiotic ocunt declines. To get the biggest bacteria boost, choose nonfat or low-fat yogurt with an expiration date far in the future.

Date Published: 04/28/2002
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