The fermentation process is a beautiful thing: think hard cider, wine … and yogurt. That’s right, yogurt – the delicious miracle that nature creates when beneficial bacteria ferments milk. The result is a protein-rich, creamy treat that benefits both our body and our skin.

ANCIENT ENZYMES

It’s rumored that yogurt was discovered by accident around 6,000 B.C. Historians assert herdsmen, who were known to drink the milk of their horses, cattle, and camels, would store the milk in sacks made from the intestine of their animals. The enzymes of these organic containers caused the milk to ferment. The herdsmen liked the taste and texture so much they began to create intentionally what we see now as the earliest form of yogurt. Today, we have seemingly endless options for taste, texture, fat content, and vitamin-enriched yogurt. And now we can all appreciate the benefits of this tart source of nutrition.

BACTERIAL BENEFITS

Externally, yogurt benefits the body’s largest organ: our skin. The lactic acid present in the fermented milk heals and restores the skin’s cells. It gently exfoliates the top layer, reducing blemishes and leaving a fresh, vibrant glow. Internally, yogurt offers multiple benefits. First, it’s a natural source of protein, which provides amino acids to help muscles repair themselves, and of carbs, which restock the body’s energy. Yogurt also delivers calcium, potassium, and vitamin B12. Beyond these nutrients, yogurt gives an added bonus: live cultures.

Let’s pause here. “Live cultures” is sort of a buzz phrase, along the lines of bacteria, probiotics, and living microorganisms. They are tossed around so often, we may feel pressured to nod as though we know what they mean. The concise answer is: live cultures, microorganisms, probiotics, and bacteria – all of these refer to the same thing in yogurt.

FOR GROWTH, FOR LIFE

Probiotics aid the body by stimulating the growth of helpful bacteria. They are live organisms that live in your digestive tract and help keep harmful microorganisms, which can cause intestinal problems, in check. Your digestion is improved because the probiotics help keep things healthy and clean. Probiotics in yogurt not only aid digestion, they also help reduce belly fat! When excess fat is present in the mid-section, the body releases a hormone called cortisol, which produces even more fat around our middle. However, calcium in yogurt tells the body to stop producing excess amounts of cortisol, helping reduce stubborn (and dangerous) visceral fat.

IT DOES THE BODY GOOD

After learning the benefits of yogurt, you may be tempted to rush out and buy some. However, caution is in order. With the rise in popularity, there has been an increase in deceptive marketing, making us question the “truth in labeling.” Many commercial yogurts are packed with sugar, artificial sweeteners, thickeners, and stabilizers. Marketed mainly to children or to women who are trying to lose weight, these super sweet snacks no longer fall into the “health food” category.

Better yet, make yogurt at home! It’s amazingly easy to do and tastes more delicious than anything you can find in the grocers’ cooler.