By Priscila Perales

Since graduating from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition over a year ago I began listening more to my body. I tried all kinds of diets to see what my body responded better to. I went gluten-free for a while, then I decided to quit dairy. “No”, I thought “sugar must be the main culprit, I’ll just quit anything that has sugar in it, including fruit, and I’ll be fine”. I noticed that eliminating certain foods helped to ease occasional bloating, but to my frustration, eliminating some of these foods made me feel better in some aspects, yet made me developed intense cravings for carbs or fats.

You see, the body is very smart. It knows what it thrives on, what it wants to avoid and what it needs for balance, health and youth. The body’s natural tendency is to heal itself, and it will let you know when it is happy with the diet you provide it by having regular bowel movements, clear skin, strong hair and nails, fast recovery from bruising, good sleeping patterns, among other things.

Why do I say all of this? A while back I was drinking cow’s milk every day. It was the base of my uplifting morning cappuccinos every morning, and the base of my english teas in the afternoon. I drizzled it all over my oatmeal and used it as base for my fruit smoothies as well. I noticed no matter how “healthy” I ate with 90% of my diet consisting of unprocessed, whole foods, I still felt highly bloated and constipated. I felt fatigued in the afternoon and to make matters worst, I suffered severe acid reflux after meals. I figured it had to be dairy because everybody and their mother were talking about the damage that hormones, lactose and antibiotics in the white beverage can have on the body. Hell, I read about this myself while studying my holistic health course! But my attachment to frothy milk was too intense and decided to ignore all the craze. I couldn’t keep up with the negative symptoms I had, so I went ahead and finally quit dairy products one day. The only problem is I started craving fats and proteins more. Milk has a high protein content and for providing protein and calcium, milk is definitely king.

The problem with milk is it’s sugar content (lactose). Yes, lactose is the sugar in milk that spikes our insulin and gives us all of those erratic symptoms of dis-ease. And yes, if you go for the inorganic kinds, the effects are worst given the GMO’s and antibiotics in it that wreck havoc in our systems.

What I DIDN’T realize right away was that not all dairy products are created equal. Every time I saw a bowl of yogurt somewhere, my mouth watered. “If only I could sprinkle a bowl of plain yogurt with delicious nuts, seeds and berries and enjoy that without bloating, indigestion and heartburn…” Well, I could, I just didn’t know it yet. Finally, one day I decided to give into my craving after months following a dairy-free diet . I noticed no bloating, no acid reflux. I felt lucky and perhaps that was just a coincidence, but the feeling of fullness and satiety and my body feeling oh-so-good after having that bowl of yogurt made me go buy a whole bottle to have in the fridge. I started having it every morning, and to my surprise, no signs of stomach upset.

“I must be cured from this lactose intolerance of mine, maybe I’m not intolerant at all!” So guess what Priscila did? I went back to my frothy milk, TOO! Why not, right? “If I’m feeling this well already…” But when I went back to milk and developed the same symptoms once again, I couldn’t help but wonder: “Why am I getting this from milk but NOT from yogurt? They’re BOTH dairy!”

I won’t write a soap opera chapter out of this, but basically, it’s the fermentation process yogurt goes through that saved me and my tummy from malady. Yogurt, as opposed to milk, is abundant in good, healthy bacteria for your gut. It fights free-radicals and keeps your immune system strong. The fact that it is fermented means that bacteria was introduced to milk to break down its natural occurring sugars into simpler molecules such as acids and alcohols. Breaking down the food does two things: it introduces good bacteria into the food that increases nutritional value and a whole lot of flavor is released — just think of the difference between eating cabbage and sauerkraut (fermented cabbage)!

Like those probiotics you may consume in supplement form, your body benefits from increasing your fermented food intake, ESPECIALLY when taking antibiotics, which may disrupt the balance of the digestive tract. Sometimes fermented foods are labeled “cultured” or “pickled,” but they all fall under the fermentation umbrella.

I realized yogurt is a super food after all. It gives me a sense of fullness given its high protein content, it aids my digestion with all the good bacteria it packs, and must I mention it is very tasty, too? I suggest you experiment with your own body and see what works for you as well.


Bye now =)



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