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Is Yogurt a Superfood for Gluten-Free Dieters?

High-wage earning food marketers have successfully convinced most people that eating yogurt is vital for good health. Several brands promote their yogurts as a probiotic-containing superfood. Yogurt is also loaded with calcium, vital for bone density. So is yogurt a superfood?

Yogurt is most often a gluten-free food. It would make sense to incorporate yogurt into a gluten-free diet for gut health (thanks to the probiotics).

Greek yogurt, barely a blip in total sales of yogurt a mere handful of years ago, now accounts for roughly 35% of all yogurt sales, and the number continues to rise.

Creamier and thicker, Greek-style yogurt is now produced by all major yogurt brands, not only by specialty-niche yogurt purveyors. Is Greek healthier than regular yogurt? If you’re sensitive to lactose (milk protein), Greek yogurt may be more amenable to your digestive tract because, at least in traditional Greek yogurt preparations, whey, one of the major milk proteins, is strained out through a cloth.

If you truly love yogurt, Greek-style or not, and have no trouble digesting it (yogurt causes bloating in some people, not merely the lactose-intolerant), continue to eat it. However, most yogurts’ nutritional profile do not reflect the superfood status bestowed by marketers.

Sugar Negates the Benefits of Probiotics

Most yogurts have lots of sugar. Single serving cups contain as much as 25 grams of sugar (that’s a lot). Any flavored yogurts (anything other than plain, even vanilla) contain lots of added sugar.

If you’re going to eat yogurt, eat the whole-fat variety and plain. Whole-fat will keep you full longer and contains the least amount of sugar. Add a handful of berries and raw stevia to naturally sweeten your yogurt. Throw in some raw sliced almonds. The natural fat from the nuts will also slow down the release of insulin caused by the milk sugars.

Pasteurization Kills the Natural Probiotics

The main selling point of yogurt is its probiotic profile. Yes, yogurt does have cultures (living microorganisms that help us digest our food and prevent bad bacteria from overpopulating the gut). But all commercial yogurt is made from pasteurized milk.

Pasteurization, once a God-send in the age of pre-refrigeration, preventing food-borne pathogens, is nonetheless the equivalent of a nuclear bomb exploding on dairy. The process does not distinguish between good bacteria and bad.

Though it’s difficult to tell if added cultures to yogurt are as effective for gut health as unpasteurized (‘raw’) dairy, in most cases natural foods are far superior than lab-produced varieties.

Formerly isolated traditional villages in the Swiss Alps (up to the early 20th century) produced their own raw yogurt and enjoyed lifetimes free of chronic disease. Truly healthy yogurt was handmade in small batches and from unpasteurized milk.

Because raw milk is illegal to buy in most states, it’s wise to eat other fermented foods for good health (read this Miracle Noodle blog to learn more about fermented foods).

For those with compromised immune systems or digestive tracts (the two are often linked), the probiotic count in conventional yogurt, whether Greek-style or not, may be insufficient. Ask your naturopathic care provider if a probiotic supplement would be recommended for your health.

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